As independent filmmakers, there are a lot of rabbit holes we have to be careful of going down. There are false investors, incompetent or dishonest producers, bad distributors – a million pathways that can either set up our dream project, or kill our dream project.
One pathway that I’ve seen ruin filmmakers or their dream projects is going down the pathway of project fixation – getting so fixated on one particular project that they disregard all other opportunities and abandon logic.
I’ve seen colleagues get so wrapped up with one project that they ultimately paralyze their effort because their approach becomes desperate and illogical.
Remember Every Project is a Stepping Stone
In reality every project – even your dream project – is a stepping stone to something else – not your end game. As soon as you treat one project as the end game, you start to make poor decisions and make unwise investments both personally and professionally.
Ultimately it leads to being creatively self-destructive because the filmmaker is acting from desperation and obsession. Both of these traits are huge red flags to investors and other creatives.
Now, I’m not saying that it’s bad to have a dream project. I definitely have mine. But have other projects, and prioritize those projects based on what accumulates the best momentum.
Momentum is Key
Momentum on one project can lead to momentum on others that have otherwise been stagnant.
Producing and chasing greenlights is based on synergy. It takes creative and business synergy to get a project off the ground. The networking effect on one project may very likely lead to life being breathed into another – and maybe that other is your dream project.
I have a particular film project that has taken nearly a decade to get made. There were several false starts over the years and I was close to a green light several times. Ultimately it fell apart each time for an array of reasons – bad timing, wrong producer partnerships, the budget was too ambitious, etc.
The biggest problem was I didn’t have the right team in place.
Over the course of making other, small projects in the meantime, I have accumulated the right relationships that are now helping me realize this bigger more ambitious film. Had I not made those other films, I would have never formed the relationships with the people who I now believe are the right people to get the dream project produced.
It’s Also About Timing
There are projects I’ve passed on not because the project wasn’t great, but rather because the timing wasn’t right.
Demand in global distribution very often moves in trends, both with types of films, certain actors, etc.
Your dream project may be the right project at the wrong time, and maybe one or two or three or ten other projects need to happen first as stepping stones down the pathway toward that dream project becoming reality.
Forcing a project forward when the timing and the elements are not right means cutting corners. On one hand you might find a way to get your project made, on the other hand, however, you may be forced to do it in a way that doesn’t do justice to your original vision.
The final point worth mentioning is that projects are never a one size fits all.
By diversifying yourself as a content creator across a portfolio of projects, you greatly increase your chance for success because no matter what investor, distributor or producer that you come across you are more likely to have a project that fits their sensibility.
If you only have one project, it’s like owning one stock and waiting for a squeeze rather than spreading your risk and opportunity across many stocks.
Diversify yourself as a content creator. It opens you up to a much wider array of opportunities and keeps your mentality and determination fresh.
If one of my projects isn’t gaining the right momentum, but another one is, then I am a steadily working filmmaker. I can take the momentum from whatever is working and try to parlay that momentum back into the others.
One project always leads to another, but if you’re monogamous to one dream project, and it’s not moving the right way, you’ll find your career in creative quicksand.
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