I love Indie Mogul. It is a shame that these guys no longer make videos. Here’s some hacks for the low-budget filmmaker.
The wording in the title is a little deceptive; “post-production” doesn’t mean the problems one is faced with when they put too much faith in that old adage “we can fix it in post”, I mean the time you have to wait from wrapping on production and finally getting the film out to the masses. It can be a real roller coaster: you’re going to face some extremely high highs and sometime some devastating lows and if you lose energy for your film you could be heading for a really dark tunnel; however, if you power through you’ll get off your ride feeling exhilarated and queuing up to do it all again!
Let’s examine what happens to filmmakers after they wrap. See if the following sounds familiar… You had a stroke of genius when you first conceived your story, spent days, weeks, months maybe years on a script. Then, chomping at the bit to make…
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An well-rounded actor should have many skills and abilities. The strongest ability, in my opinion, isn’t something that you learn in an acting class or even on set. For some people, it’s the scariest of all things to do, but eventually becomes the most liberating. This weapon adds value and a sense of confidence and self-worth. This weapon is the ability to say “no”.
Your time as a person and as an actor are valuable. Don’t give your time away to things that aren’t fulfilling. People often undervalue themselves when it comes to marketing their skills. As a person adds value to themselves, they bring added value to projects. If you stick to improving your craft, special skills and circle of influence, you will come to a point that you need to turn certain work down. Not all projects elevate you. Not all projects pay well enough. Not all projects are compelling. Not all projects are “opportunities”. Turn these things down. When you do it once and nothing bad happens, it’ll become way easier.
I recently met an actor that was super stressed out. He told me that he was “just taking everything for a few years”. This guy is going broke working on project after project that doesn’t pay and lots of projects that don’t see the light of day. Is that what you want? Is that part of your plan? Do you have a plan? Can you imagine what it will feel like to actually turn down a role, because you can?
Why are precious gems and metals expensive? They are rare. The rarity creates value. Be rare, my friend. Be rare.
What have you done for your acting career, this week? Are you getting by or are you going beyond? If you do what most actors do, you’ll get their results. You’ll have a mediocre career and you’ll eventually walk away from. I can’t imagine that’s what you want. We hear all these stats about people not making it. All these stats mean is that most people are quitters. How many people did you know were talking about pre-law or pre-med their freshman year of college? I’d be willing to wager that most of them are doing something different, today. Many people quit when they hit an obstacle. Obstacles are only placed in the direction of the finish line. Run past, over or through your obstacles. There are no monuments commemorating quitters.
Whether you realize it or not, your life is full of mentors. Day in and day out, you are being influenced by many people. Below are 5 networking fears that affect an actor’s progress. Don’t subconsciously allow these fears to create inadequate or negative mentors in your life.
1. The fear of saying “no”.
Don’t be afraid to turn down projects that have an environment or outcome that don’t push your career forward.
2. The fear of lost connections.
Don’t be afraid to cut loose a negative influence. This could be anything from a bad coach to a bad personal relationship.
3. The fear of being perceived as a “know-it-all” by people that aren’t qualified to give you advice on your career
Let’s face it, not everyone you know is an expert on the business. You’re going to get crappy advice from people that don’t know a thing and if you don’t take it, they’ll treat you like you’re being a jerk. So? I don’t take stock advice from my chiropractor and I don’t take medical advice from my barista. Sometimes you just have to tell someone “I don’t want to hear it”. Do this tactfully, of course.
4. Fear of changing acting schools
I always tell my students that they can learn a lot from going to different instructors. Any coach that truly wants you to succeed will encourage you to diversify your sources of education. This is your career, not theirs. We may hate to see you go, but we want to see you on the screen. A strong coach will always continue to bring in new clients, so the money shouldn’t be the issue. Not only do you get a fresh perspective from a new school, you network with a new group of peers. Seek out groups that want the best for you.
Now here’s the scariest one.
5. Fear of leaving a bad “real job” environment
What’s your ultimate goal? Is it to keep the job you have now or to make a living in film and TV? We all have to make a living, I get that. If your job is keeping you from getting closer to your real goal, its time to come up with an exit strategy. I’ve been in the position of having a job that paid well, that cut into my career. What did I do? I quit. I now act more, make more money, help more people and drive a nicer car. Most importantly, I’m happier. I didn’t do this without a strategy, though. I’ll go into detail about “real job” exit strategies and income creation in a later post. Don’t get chained to a “stress anchor”, just because it provides a paycheck.
Remember to keep operating from inspiration, not desperation. If your peer group, doesn’t inspire you, its time to restructure. You are a business & struggling businesses restructure to improve results.
@mentoractor on Twitter
Photo credit: Griffspix
Networking is a major component of success in the film (or any) industry. We often hear people say “it’s not what you know, but who you know”. There is a bit of truth in this. In order to gain traction an actor must develop and expand their network. The Internet provides us with opportunities to network in a way that wasn’t possible a few years ago.
I recommend setting a goal of a minimum of 2 new connections per month. The goal is to have ongoing dialogue with your new business contact. This is a small goal, but results in 24 new contacts a year at even the lowest effort.
Use search engines to find content and contact info of people in the industry. Don’t limit your search, but try to find people that are actually involved in the types of projects you’d like to involve yourself in. Search for things you’re passionate about. That makes this whole process fun.
Do not bother people about matters that are inappropriate to contact them about. (read that sentence again) Do bring value. Do bring a willingness to learn. Show gratitude for even the smallest of gestures.
Some of the types of content you’ll search for:
After you find content you enjoy, look for the email addresses of the people involved.
For a moment let’s just pretend you’re a huge science fiction fan. There’s lots of indie science fiction shorts, webseries and features on the internet. Let’s say you stumble across a great sci fi short film on YouTube and it just so happens that the filmmakers have left an email address. Reach out to them. I’d start the email off something like….
I really enjoyed your (work/film/portrayal) in the short film (film title). I admire what you were able to accomplish. I know that you place tremendous value on your time, so I’ll be brief.
During the process of making (movie title) did you find that (thing you’re curious about)? I’ve been asking this to a small handful of filmmakers/actors that I truly admire in order to gain a stronger understanding of (curiosity you have). I understand you’re probably busy and don’t have time to answer this question with too much detail, but any tidbits of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks in advance
When they reply-
“Thank you so much. I will apply (info/action) at the first opportunity. I’m in your debt. Would you mind if, sometime down the line, I emailed you other questions that I may have? I’ll be sure to limit them to only the most important. Your expertise on (filmmaking subject) is invaluable. Thanks in advance.”
Naturally, you’ll want to use your own words, but the point of this is to strike up a conversation. Keep them talking about themselves over time. Find out what you have in common. Eventually you’ll have a person that’s willing to help you along and perhaps you may even be able to help them. This also makes your name more familiar in the industry. You will gain pertinent information that you can take action on. Some will contact you back, some won’t. Some reply fast, some reply slow. Just hit “send” and don’t worry about it.
One of my students, that used this strategy, was able to start a conversation with someone at a major studio.
A former talent agent turned manager/producer. This person knows their stuff. Great advice in very few words.
A casting director. She’s on your side, folks. She wants to see you succeed. I’d recommend taking her advice. She also has a killer YouTube channel.
You name the topic, they cover it. There’s lots of variety. You’ll never get bored or run out of things to learn.
Actors of the Month
@SlickSchultz & @MelSaysWhat
Two talented folks with plenty of upside.
Director of the Month
An actor’s director. Fun to work with.
This webseries gives out great information to those that want to make a living acting. It is also highly entertaining. Enjoy.