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May 30 at 8:30am

10 Ways To Turn That Script Into A Movie ASAP

By Ted Hope

We often wait and wait, strategizing and hoping, but for what?  Most scripts never get made. Even if they “finish” a script, many people stop less half way before they get it done.

I would argue that most scripts don’t become films because the people behind them aren’t willing to face reality and do what is necessary to get them made. The dream of the knight sweeping down and rescuing them for their beauty/wisdom/talent/genius is a toxic poison.  Wishing for privilege, wishing for good fortune, these dreams get in the way of recognizing the hard work that can often get things done.  

Okay, money, connections, talent — they all have a great deal to do with success, but it is also a state of mind that is needed to make things real. Much of that mindset is preparation.  Some of it is process.  And some is that heady cocktail where action and philosophy mix.  You want to get your movie made? Change how you are thinking, and then change your actions.

WARNING: The myth of hard work earning just rewards is equally false and debilitating, but if you want to change your outcomes, preparation is probably the key influencer.

Here’s my list for today of ten short cuts to production.

  1. The best way to raise a budget is to cut it in half. Know how low you can go, and stop hesitating.  It will be easier next time when you have this one to show.
  2. Build a body of work.  Make it clear you are a generative person.  If you consistently create, everyone will believe you will get it done.  Even better of course is to make work consistently of quality.  You create atmosphere where the industry will actually fear your next work will be even better and you will compel them to join up with you.
  3. A movie comes together in one way and one way only; it may be more bumpy ride than perfect storm, but you have to recognize it when it is in front of you.  If you have 50% of the budget and you know how to make it for that, make it for that.  If you have an actor who helps get it funded and they want to do it and you don’t think it is a compromise, then what are you waiting for. I have had several movies die because I thought I could do better than I could.
  4. Put yourself in the investors’ shoes.  Think of what they would want to hear or see.  Don’t let them look foolish to their friends or the world.  Treat investors as your partners.  Give them what they need to close the deal — and to look smart in doing so.  If you think they may want something, you better have that ready to give.
  5. Make the film seem as inevitable as possible.  Do EVERYTHING possible to help them visualize your movie happening (which is very different from visualizing your movie). Create realistic business plans.  Create image books.  Create extensive cast lists.  Select locations.  Run budget alternatives. Build a website. Aggregate your audience.  Demonstrate a proof of principal. Do anything that helps people visualize the film.  And of course the easiest time to raise money is when you are in production (but this is very very dangerous).
  6. Build a coalition of support around your project before introducing it to heavy hitters.  You want a “yes” from as many people as you can regardless of whether they can get the movie made or not.  Set the table for the meal you want to serve.  The truth will bubble up.
  7. People want most what they can’t have.  Manufacture desire for your project before you go out with it.  Once the package is complete, spend a good month speaking about it before sending it out, just telling people you are almost done with it. Denial feeds desire.  A road block makes you want to journey to the other side.
  8. Build an environment of authentic urgency around your project.  People act when they need to act.  Why do they have to make a decision on yours now?
  9. Be more than a filmmaker.  Start with being a member of a community.  What do you provide people?  Why will they want to help you?  Your good acts will inspire others and lead them to action.
  10. Make it easy for people to know who you are.  Movies are stressful situation but they aren’t surgery.  Your team needs to know you won’t crack under pressure.  They need to know you can be depended on for a good long time.  They need to know that it will be enjoyable or at least rewarding to be around you for such an extended period.  Help them understand that.

Any other suggestions you’d like to add to the list?

 


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18 Comments

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  1. Chrissy McDermott / May 30 at 8:30am

    This is my favorite article on Hope For Film since I started reading! It’s exactly what I needed to read being just at that point in developing an indie feature.

    It might be a little repetitive but maybe in addition – Just as you perpetuate the notion that your film is inevitable, believe that you and your wonderful film will be a big success. Imagine yourself in each stage of pre-production – through releasing the film. If you don’t completely believe that and exude it when speaking to people regarding your film, no one else will either.

    And don’t be afraid of rejection or getting a “no thank you.” In my experience, and I believe most indie filmmakers’ you’ll always get more no’s than yes’s in the process of developing and raising funds. The upside is each time it happens you know how to handle your approach and communications better next time.

  2. Mike C / May 30 at 8:30am

    Thanks Ted, this list is perfectly timed! I’m also working on something I’d like to get financed and in the works. I was wondering what your thoughts are about inquiry letters to producers you don’t have a connection to, but who may have done similar work in the past? Or what about approaching a producer with smaller, more transmedia/viral video teaser films which you’re hoping will attract an audience (and some funding) to a larger feature project?

  3. Ted Hope / May 30 at 8:30am

    I think they are a great thing to do, but so much depends on the timing. Most successful producers are overwhelmed with submissions. The more you can show someone what you want to do, and in a concise & frictionless way, the more likely they can respond. This is also a good idea for a post. Thanks.

  4. Ted Hope / May 30 at 8:30am

    Thanks. Let me know if there are other suggestions for posts. I do think you are right as to what helps make something feel inevitable. Also it was once said to me that in terms of getting investment it was more important to work towards a quick NO than anything else, since that is always the most likely scenario and many investors are just trying to get an education and will string you along forever until you force the no.

  5. BK Garceau, III / May 30 at 8:30am

    Great stuff! Feeling inspired!

  6. Jason Wolos / May 30 at 8:30am

    Ted- what Chrissy M said earlier is also true for me- this is one of my favorite posts that you have written since I started reading.

    All of these points are spot on, I learned exactly these getting my script made into my first feature film. I took each one of these “short cuts”, or rather they happened with me… and my script got made. If you said to me- “Write down what you learned about getting your script produced into a feature movie”… this article is what I would have wrote. I learned a whole lot more, of course. But it’s as if you summarized the key points of what I learned from getting my script made into a movie I am proud of. Filmmakers- print this article and hang on your wall…

  7. Chrissy McDermott / May 30 at 8:30am

    Thank you. That’s really fantastic advice too. I’ll definitely keeping that in mind when speaking with potential investors. Much appreciated.

  8. Mohammad Gorjestani / May 30 at 8:30am

    awesome.

  9. Stephen Escudero / May 30 at 8:30am

    Beautiful gonna print this up and stick it on my wall. thank you.

  10. Miles Maker / May 30 at 8:30am

    Thanks for THIS. It’s so very confirming.

  11. Susan O'Connell / May 30 at 8:30am

    It always worked for me to believe that the film was actually completed – out there in the future somewhere – all I was doing was finding the people who were interested in walking with me down the path towards this reality. Urgency is great. Desperation is something unpleasant that people can smell.

  12. Dani / May 30 at 8:30am

    Thanks for this list. I would love to see an example of a successful business plan.

  13. Incognita / May 30 at 8:30am

    Really helpful post and applies to other areas in the arts…music, etc

  14. Ted Hope / May 30 at 8:30am

    Most business plans for film are total hogwash. Referencing any comparison to anything released prior to Sept 15, 2008 when Lehman Bros. almost destroyed the world has no relevance. A good plan would model out revenue from any potential stream as well as engagement plan to turn passive audience into active community.

  15. Ted Hope / May 30 at 8:30am

    Glad to be of help.

  16. Keith Romine / May 30 at 8:30am

    Great post! I would love to hear more about getting named talent to help you get funding. Another thing that would be great to hear more about would be fiscal sponsorships. My film Trapped received a fiscal sponsorship through IFP fall 2012 http://fiscal.ifp.org/project.cfm/560/Trapped and we are still trying to find our way.

  17. Dean / May 30 at 8:30am

    I am glad you acknowledge the devastation of the economic collapse in relation to film, I was making a film in 2008 ( Feature ) that fell apart despite great talent involved and commitment ( hoping to remake it someday as it should be seen ).

    There are benefits to the current economic climate, deals can be struck for locations and equipment and there is less protectionism when it comes to filmmaking and resources ( that might just be a UK centric thing ) .

    My business plan for my next feature which I am to shoot at the end of this year is “Just do it”, “try anything” ( when it comes to promotion ), that may sound very vague and I guess it is, but I feel now is a time for experimentation and the old adage “nobody knows anything” is more apt now than ever.

    I feel that building community as you often say, is incredibly important, however, I personally am not seeing the correlation between community and sales, at the very least though, it is good to talk about movies and experiences with others.

    Thanks for the post, helpful as always.

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