In the spirit of sharing my own experiences as a seasoned filmmaker and distributor, below are 10 key suggestions that I’ve learned first hand will put you ahead of the competition:
1. Produce Your Own Content
Don’t wait for others to offer you opportunities. Create your own!
We are fortunate to live in a time where technology and the internet has leveled the playing field for filmmakers. Whether you have deep pockets or empty pockets, you have at your disposal the tools to create, shoot and exhibit your content.
When you apply for a job, having a longer, more detailed resume that shows motivation and productivity will always give you an advantage. The same is true in filmmaking. There is no excuse to have no resume given the tools available to you at little or no cost. Take the initiative and produce your own content.
2. Learn the Business End of Your Art
You know what you want to do but learn what you have to do. Educate yourself about how the finance and distribution side of the business works so you are savvier than most of your competition.
Entertainment is no different than opening a restaurant, retail store or launching a startup. Treat your art and brand like a business. Having a viable business plan to validate your creative output will always give you a better chance of success and longevity.
3. Set Tangible Goals
Set goals for yourself and your career that are realistic and within your reach. Once you reach those goals, set new ones accordingly.
If you start at A and expect to get to Z quickly, you’re not managing your own expectations properly. Treat every project, gig and opportunity as a stepping stone rather than a catapult.
Additionally, always focus on taking steps forward, not sideways or backwards.
4. Surround Yourself With People Who Escalate You
Hollywood has a lot of yes people.
As much as you can you want to surround yourself with creative people who are more seasoned than yourself so you can learn from them, up your game, and be associated with legitimacy. Having a team that compliments you and escalates you will ultimately give you a more superior product.
Actors will always give more enlightened performances working opposite more accomplished actors. Filmmakers will only execute their creative vision based on the capabilities of the support team.
Don’t limit your creative output by surrounding yourself with friends or colleagues who cannot escalate you and deliver to your expectation.
5. Be Selective
Don’t say yes to jobs that you don’t believe in or won’t escalate your career.
In the beginning we all make choices to make money and build our resume, but as you build a track record, be selective about what you say yes to.
Value is driven by demand and rarity. You want to make yourself in demand first by building a reputation as a talented, hard-working team player. But once you establish that, don’t oversaturate yourself by saying yes to everything.
Once you’ve built a demand for yourself, hold out to the best of your ability to say yes to projects that offer you a stepping stone forward.
6. Be Self Aware
Especially in the age of social media, be aware of the persona and attitude you put out to the world. Don’t be that person that makes other people roll their eyes or not take seriously.
Be conscious of your persona, both online and in person. You never know who is watching and in an age where people have the ability to look at your past very easily, always put forth the energy and messaging that will entice people to work with you.
7. Invest in Yourself
Talent is simply not enough. Even if you have raw talent, you still need to arm yourself with the knowledge to navigate the business effectively.
Invest in education, be it school, one-off courses, or attending events that will escalate you as an entity and a talent. Even if you cannot afford to attend film school or prestigious acting classes, you should seek out groups, networking forums and online opportunities that will further your learning about the business you’re in.
In any business there is never a point where you know it all. Find out what you don’t know and educate yourself constantly.
8. Listen More Than You Speak
People who talk more than they listen usually have a lot to prove or are not what they claim.
The more you listen and sharpen your perception skills, the better you will become at sizing people up and deciphering who is worthwhile to engage with and who is not. This also ties back into being self aware.
9. Be a Networking Machine
It doesn’t matter if you’re working or not; You need to always be networking.
Hollywood is a numbers game. The more people you meet and network with, the more opportunities will present themselves. I personally go into every social situation with the mindset of who are good people to meet and get to know.
This doesn’t mean be opportunistic everywhere you go. It’s not about always targeting whoever the biggest person in the room is. It’s also important to develop relationships with like-minded people who you can potentially work well with. Working relationships work best if they are mutually beneficial.
10. Show Up On Time and Do What You Say
Believe it or not, 99% of people in Hollywood cannot do one or both of these things. If you make a habit of doing both, you are way ahead of most of the competition!
If you’re getting ready to start your next film, consider joining me in my free training, The Ultimate Film Financing Plan. In this training, I’ll share my Proven 9-Step strategy for building a compelling pitch deck that gets films funded. Click here to join.