So you have an idea for a project you’d like to kick off in 2015 – it could be a short film, feature film, documentary, animation, anything in which you will need time, money and resources. But there is this seemingly invisible wall that stands in your way of starting. No matter which way sideways you move, there doesn’t seem to be a break in the wall to move forward. I too face that wall many times when I’m beginning a project. It’s stifling and can be a project killer if we do not find a way to get around it and begin.
However my friends, I’m here to help! Before you start that pre-production meeting, before you finalize your script, before you yell “action!” use these 5 simple methods to help you start your film project in 2015!
1. Set Goals
You may have heard me talking about setting goals, in an iPhone video post or other articles. But goal setting can not be stressed enough as being a part of your overall planning strategy. Setting and writing down goals, large and small, gives you a primer to work from and make decisions throughout the year and for your projects. Whenever faced with a large decision to make, you can reference back to your goals you wrote down and ask “does this help me get closer to my goal(s)?”.
Every year, either near the end of the year or as soon as the new year begins, I create a new file in my Evernote App and begin writing down my goals for that year. You can categorize them however you like. I personally set goals for my work, for my family, for my reading, my education, etc. But no matter how you categorize your goals, always remember these four things:
- Make Goals, not resolutions
- Make your goals obtainable
- Create mini-goals, small tasks that help you achieve your large goals
- Write out your goals
I say “make goals, not resolutions” because by definition a “resolution” in it’s basic form is just deciding to do something. Where as goals force you to work for something. A decision without some kind of physical effort remains just an idea. And if you make your goals too lofty, it sets you up for failure. Of course you want to stretch yourself and grow, but be realistic. Understand your circumstances and realistically set goals that are a stretch but also obtainable.
Mini goals are just that, a list of sub-tasks that allow you to achieve the larger goal. For instance, let’s say I want to create a pilot for a new series. That’s a main goal. Now I list the mini-goals that I need to achieve in order to obtain the main goal. So some of those may be: Create the script – Determine my setting and place of production – Find the crew – Raise the funds – etc. You get the idea.
And last, you must write out your goals, on paper or digitally. Do not just leave them in your head. You need a place for you to reference back as you progress during the year. As I said before, these items written down are your gauge to work from throughout the year so you need to have them in place, digitally or physically to reference back.
2. Write It Down
Whenever you are working on a project, its important to keep track of everything, not just your script and synopses but everything that has to do with your preparation. Like with with goals, I also use Evernote to keep track of my stories as well as production notes. As I begin developing a story or a project further, I use Evernote to help me keep track of every idea, every thought, every note that pertains tot hat project. This helps me stay on track and make better use of the tools I have.
There have been many times I discuss story ideas with someone and they happen to mention a possible actor or actress in which they say would be good for a part. However, I’m not in casting yet, I’m only in the writing phase. But instead of dismissing the suggestion or relying on that person to email me more information, I just open up Evernote and jot the information at the moment and save it for when I am ready for casting.
There are many more examples of this but that could be another article on it’s own to list out ally he ways Evernote is helpful. But you get the point. Use whatever tool you feel comfortable with as long as you write it down!
3. Get Out of Debt
Ok, I know, money is very personal subject to discuss but I feel not talking about it can only lead to more uncomfortableness (is that a word?). I only say this because I’ve spoken to many filmmakers about pursuing their stories and ideas for their projects and probably the number one stumbling block that comes up is debt. Usually they say something like they have to work so many jobs to pay for their debt they have no time to work on their own ideas. Or because of debt, they cannot afford to put money into their own projects. I understand debt is very hard to avoid but it’s not impossible.
I’m very blessed to have been debt free since my wife and I have been married, almost 9 years ago. And because the only thing we have to pay for is our house and living expenses, it means I can pursue some of the ideas and goals I have had. Now, this doesn’t mean I can pass on any job that comes my way. It just means I have a little more freedom with time and resources to pursue those goals I set for myself. Debt is a leash that can hold you back. Think of the monthly payments you have to pay that could be going towards your project. Or the time you have to work to pay those monthly expenses that could be going towards working for your goals.
There are many ideas about how to go about getting out of debt and maybe that can be another blog post but whatever method you choose, getting out of debt will never pull you further away from your goals. However, the opposite is for sure to be true.
I’ll close this segment with a great quote from an unknown author: “The only man who sticks closer to you in adversity than a friend is a creditor.” And we all know creating anything will face adversity!
4. Network and Develop Relationships
As you begin putting your idea into motion and developing tasks, one thing to always keep in mind is that you cannot go at it alone. Sure, it’s possible to direct, shoot, produce, edit, even market your film, all by yourself but even if you choose to go at it alone (and I encourage you not to for the sake of your film) at some point you will still need help. It’s for this reason you need to network and build relationships.
First, think about the areas in which you’d need help. If you will have equipment needs I’d begin looking around your city to see if there are rental houses in your area. Go and meet them personally. Discuss some of your ideas and thoughts about your production. Remember, most people who work at these rental houses are working in the industry so they can help you figure out what you need and do not need.
Or maybe you will need help with editing your production once it has been shot. Look around for some post production houses or filmmaking groups who meet regularly in your area. Post houses, like rental houses, will often help you figure out the best plan for the post process of your project. Film and video groups often have working professional editors who, likewise, will help you in your post production efforts.
Whatever the area you will need help, begin looking for people, companies and groups to network and develop relationships. They will become the key people that will get you closer to completing your project.
Production Crew for the film Fruitcake (2014)
5. Surround Yourself with Trusted People.
The one thing I’ve learned in the last few years is that you must surround yourself with trusted people who can collaborate with you and/or be accountable to. These people in your life as you work can help you stay on task and help improve the quality of your project. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts you know I’m an advocate for creating and developing strong collaboration teams. And these people who make up your team need to have qualities that offset each other. This way you have high caliber talent covering all spectrums of the filmmaking process and no one stepping on each other’s foot.
Another reason for surrounding yourself with a good team is accountability to stay on task. With each person having a job to do, this makes going through the list of to-do’s not only have a quicker turn around but as tasks are being completed, it forces you, as the creator, to keep moving forward with the next task, then the next task and so on. This, in of itself, creates momentum that is easily more achieved with a great team behind you.
There you have it my friends, I hope these methods will help you get closer to reaching your goals in 2015. I wish you all a joyous and prosperous new year!
Bobby Marko is an award winning filmmaker based in Nashville, TN. A retired professional musician turned filmmaker, Bobby has covered the world of film and video, from live production and chroma key capture to short films and feature length documentaries. He’s had published articles at Cannes Film Festival and has been a featured presenter at IBC in Amsterdam. Bobby’s passion is to capture the heart of a story through moving imagery and share his experience along the way. You can catch his podcast show on iTunes and Soundcloud, the Authentic Filmmaking Podcast.