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Last week, I greatly enjoyed my first three days on the job at Fandor– and anticipating all the ones still to come. It’s funny how timing works sometimes… It couldn’t be a better time for me to learn and engage in something new. And it’s remarkable how sometimes somethings end, just as something new begins. Such changes and coordination need so much support, it is a marvel that so much still gets done.
Ten years ago, [...]
I was doing my mission check the other morning. I think you know that I find it useful to look at where you are and collect your thoughts on how you want to live your life, both personally and professionally, creatively and practically.
It is hard to determine your path if you don’t know your goals, right? Granted it is also hard to live your life if you are focused only on your goals, but that is for another post (as is how to pursue your goals when you aren’t paid enough to both survive and pursue them).
This is my professional assessment of my work at this distinct moment in time. The numbers are relatively arbitrary and not fully prioritized. I hope I haven’t aimed too high…
1. I want to help create ambitious and diverse works of cinema, help them get seen, and make sure the creators & their supporters directly financially benefit from that work.
2. I want to use my labor, passion, determination, and intellect in [...]
Part of producing is engineering serendipity. At least part of good producing is. How do we elevate work to the higher levels? How can we bring the mediocre into magnificence? Good producing comes from both the practical side and what many seem to think is the magical side. You have to know how to make basic shit happen on a consistent basis and then you have to learn how to make the rare occur as much as it ever could. It is not magic, but it goes far beyond being practical.
To make the positive aspects of the rare occur more frequently, I have [...]
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Two weeks ago at The San Francisco Film Society we launched A2E (Artist To Entrepreneur), a specific line of programming designed to provide filmmakers with the necessary entrepreneurial skills and best practices needed to have a sustainable creative life. We launched with A2E OnRamp, a workshop to allow filmmakers to budget, schedule, and predict possible revenues for their film throughout the direct distribution process.
Before we rolled up our sleeves to start the practical, I warmed up the crowd with a series of short lectures focusing on what all filmmakers should know about the film biz, the current culture, and recommended best practices for themselves. Last week I shared with you what we discussed about culture in general. Prior to that, I shared with you what I felt we had to recognize and accept, at least for now, about the film business.
Today, I offer you my recommendations on best practices in times like these if you want to have a hope of a sustainable creative life as a filmmaker. Don’t worry if it looks like there is more than you can currently achieve. It is a process and you are not alone. It gets better. We can build it better together.
- Focus on developing Entrepreneurial Skills as well as the creative. The corporate distributors don’t need your work to the extent that they will ever value it as much as you will. If you want your work to last, engage, and be profitable, it is up to you to be prepared to use it to ignite all opportunities. Armed with a good story and good storytelling skills, you should be able to profit if you know how to take responsibility for your creation. [...]
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If we want to move forward, we need to recognize where we are currently standing, and adapt our behavior to the reality we encounter.
Warning: Such recognition, often makes people think everything is getting worse. That simply is not true; that is just nostalgia playing havoc with your perception. There never were good old days because back then people still needed to find best practices too. They did not know then what you know now, just as those coming down the pike will have full benefit of all your excavation tomorrow. So be it.
- This is an Era of Grand Abundance. There are more things to do than ever before. Everything is competing for increasingly limited available leisure time. As many of 50,000 feature film titles are generated on a worldwide basis annually. Good movies don’t get seen.
- Movies are not the dominant option for leisure time activities for most people. [...]
I write today in honor of the Sundance Film Festival (which kicks off today) and if it wasn’t for, I probably would have not been able to do what I love for so long. Here’s to new models that are designed with large heart and a complete commitment to the welfare & progress of the artist and their community. Thank you, Mr. Redford, and may you continue to give rise to so many diverse creatures.
I trust that by now all of you who read this blog understand that the Film Biz still functions on an antiquated model that has no applicability to today. That is, the film industry was constructed around the concept of scarcity of content and control of that content — and our life is nothing like that now. Yes, there is still money to be made via the antiquated model, but it only benefits a very few beyond those that control it. It survives because all industries are essentially designed to keep the jobs of those that have them. So it goes. But eventually, we all confront reality, and it often is not pretty.
I also trust that if you are reading this you also recognize that we live in the time of Grand Abundance of produced stories, total access to that content, and a general tendency to be thoroughly distracted from that content. Looking at the state of film from this perspective can be pretty discouraging, but it is only a partial picture. I state all of this again, in the hopes that we can soon walk together into the future I know can be before us.
I took to blogging & public speaking because I was frustrated that the film business leaders were only talking about the business aspects of our situation and were neglecting that this is a wonderful time to be a generative, creative person committed to the passion industries. [...]
I was invited to contribute to the “Wish For The Future” series on Good.is. This is mine:
When do we stop just thinking about ourselves and instead start working together? I am not talking about saving the world; I am writing about preserving and advancing ambitious film and media culture. It’s threatened, and no one individual will ever rescue it. My wish for the future is for the creative community, locally, nationally and globally, to work together to build the better indie infrastructure that is now possible.