Reflecting a bit today on my Dad. He passed over a decade ago. He consciously threw in the towel after struggling for over thirty years with a long and debilitating illness. He was a self-taught, self-made man with a 10 grade education who wound up being one of the most successful single-family home builders in the Cook and DuPage county areas of Chicagoland. Above all, he wasn’t afraid of working hard and pushing his limits.
I was the rebellious son, the middle child who would have nothing to do with my father’s rigid ways and pragmatic thinking. My and my reprobate buddies had some get-rich-quick schemes that never seemed to work out.
The odd thing I found was the older I got the smarter I found Dad to be. So, for the past ten years I’ve devoted all my energy and waking hours to learning all I could about the film business, building professional relationships, enhancing my brand and applying it all to the process of making films. I estimate I’ve got about 12,000 hours into this new career.
I have a cousin who ate up my father’s wisdom chapter and verse. He recalls a time when, as a teenager, he told my Dad at a back yard barbecue that he wanted to be a millionaire. My Dad told him, “Nah, you really don’t wan’t it.” My cousin replied, “yes, unc…I really do!” Dad cut him off, “no…you don’t because millionaires and driven people don’t have time for barbecues, goofing around, wasting time…or much else. You have to have drive.”
Today my cousin is a multi-millionaire. He’s a self-taught, avid reader with an academic pedigree of a high-school diploma. And, he’s one of the most brilliant, intelligent and generous people I’ve ever met.
In a business where the competition is so high that some people would eat their own children, I find it odd that many indie filmmakers I encounter have other important interests. Most of these interests are in no way related to the struggle to get their project into production.
I read an essay by a young woman () this morning. She was celebrating her 27th birthday and she was opining about the twenty-seven lessons she’s learned in her current time through the life cycle. One of those, #10, jumped out at me in relation to independent filmmakers…Work Hard. Work Very Hard. Work Really Freakin Hard.
My conclusion is this: if you need to play golf, go cycling, visit the Ozarks, support causes, etc. figure out a way to integrate some part of your filmmaking efforts into that interest. Invite a potential investor for a round on the links, do some research (FB, Insta,etc.) and see if the talent you’re seeking shares an interest with you, plan around a film festival at your vacation spot, make a documentary. Every time you find yourself doing something unrelated to your goal if making films, feel guilty.
Because there are guys and gals working Really Freakin Hard and they will succeed. Will you?
I’ve made an observation regarding many of my fellow independent #filmmakers living outside of LA. It seems there is a keen awareness that the business is predicated on relationships. However, the relationships I see being nurtured are those that do not facilitate the next step in the process – getting the funding and #financing to make one’s #film. The default is hanging out with other broke-ass filmmakers, perhaps getting some crumbs of insight from a panel of “experts” as to how they found their pathway to getting their film made. But mostly these events, whatever the may be, seem to me as group circle-jerks. Filmmakers commiserating how hard it is to find money.
Therefore, I offer up this suggestion, GO WHERE THE MONEY IS!
Hang out. Become a weekly regular. Bring business cards, your A-game and your pitch deck on your smart phone or tablet. Introduce yourself and talk about your project(s) to people with money, aka investors.
I am amazed at people who attend Mass or go to church…the house of God, in less than appropriate apparel. I feel if you’re going to give the Big Guy an hour of your time, at least you could dress up a bit. Would you go see any other important person in ripped jeans, t-shirt and flip-flops? Just sayin’.
Nice to see the uplifting story of our short film, In My Brother’s Shoes, get recognized. We are very pleased.
In an attempt to rid himself of the self-inflicted distinction of being a 25 year-old man-child, Zach Hutton, junior menswear buyer for a large legacy department store, makes an unauthorized purchase of a container load of neckties. In doing so he loses his job, his girl and his bank account.
In a last ditch effort for redemption and to stay solvent, Zach tries to sell the ties on his own. As tie sales sputter and his luck runs out, Zach employs the talents of a lovable pole dancer to redirect the focus of potential buyers of his ties. Add devious family members, corrupt politicians, mobsters, new found love and hot-buttered popcorn to the mix, Zach finds more than a kernel of truth in the saying, “one climbs the ladder of success one rung at a time”.