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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 have given a few interviews around my new mission as the San Francisco Film Society’s Executive Director. I recently spoke to Cinesource and we discussed a bit about where we are now and where we could hopefully go. It is always such a challenge because the existing businesses are invested in the status quo — even when that is predicated on propping up a world that is no longer here.
I said: “The business of film has been oriented around the concepts of scarcity and control—where 50,000 titles can come out every year,” Ted points out. “It would take nearly a century to [showcase] just a single year’s output of films.”
“The film industry has not been able to keep up with what the tech industry has brought to the forefront. The business has been stuck in ways of doing things that are not good for business. Transformations need to occur to create a sustainable investment class to continue to help filmmakers market to the new niches.”
Hope would like to see business practices [...]
Courtesy of Screen Australia, you can now have access to everything I know about producing. I gave two days of lectures in Sydney at the end of August, and the mic ran into a recording device. It’s just audio so you don’t get to see my colorful outfits or all the nifty slides I never prepared, but it is the next best thing to being there. [...]