10 Tips for Creating Content
Wow. Its been a MINUTE since I posted a blog. When I first started back in March of 2015, I was posting two blogs a week. I kept this up for over 2 years, but for some inexplicable reason, just stopped!
I guess I could blame it on being busy, but who isn’t busy? We often blame things on business, but in reality, we always make time for the things that matter to us at that time. I guess this blog took a backseat to my other business for a while, but I’m happy to be back at it and see what happens.
Things really have been busy lately. I am a firm believer in the importance of creating your own content. It gives you something to control, to hold on to, while you’re waiting for the world to give you what you want. Sometimes, that just doesn’t happen. Sometimes you just don’t get the roles or even the auditions you want. That being said, nothing can stop you from creating your own content. It’s something you can control, and it’s also something you can use to showcase who you are. Sharpening your brand, your target, for others in the industry like casting directors, producers, and agents, is a very important part of our job.
Over a year ago, I wrote and produced a short film called OFF BOOK that showcases me in a very clear way. I have learned a lot! Here are ten major lessons:
Start somewhere. Start a project that excites you. If you come up with an idea and think, “this could make a great short film,” you are probably right. Don’t ignore that Voice. Instead, start getting the idea down on paper. I knew my idea for OFF BOOK was a good one. Unfortunately, I had no idea where to start, but I put the pen to the paper anyway. I found that this wasn’t the best solution as I was constantly changing my ideas. I made a trip to purchase a board and various washable markers which I had found gave the best results and I was able to be more creative with my ideas. The first draft was pretty terrible. After sharing it with my creative partner, Mindy, it got a little better. Mindy and I bounced the script back and forth several times until we were happy. And we have our director and line producer to thank for the final draft, as well! Our final script was the 13th revision. It took time, but it never would have happened if I didn’t just start somewhere.
Establish a team. Pick people who you trust and who share in your excitement. Most importantly, find people who pick up where you leave off. This is the second film I ever produced. I have never made a budget for a short film before, and so I made sure I hired people who have done this in the past. Yes, these are people you will be spending many hours with, but you also have a job to do. This is why it’s imperative to establish a well rounded team of enjoyable people.
Know your priorities. This is a big one, especially in creating a budget. Sure, we can hire this director you really want, but his bottom line is $200 more than this director. If you still want to go with the first option, that’s okay, but do know that the extra $$$ is going to have to come out of somewhere. This happened with us when hiring one of our actors. He lives in Los Angeles, and we shot our movie in Chicago. This meant we needed to pay for his airfare. Mindy and I knew this, and we knew this extra expense was worth it for us. Once you know your priorities, be very clear about them with your team.
Stay positive. Everyone gets stressed, especially when money and time are involved. Negativity tends to have a top-down affect. If you, the leader, have negative energy, it will catch on. Always stay positive and continue to praise your team. Let them know how appreciated they are. This project would not be possible without all of them. Is it ok to vent from time to time? Of course, but chose the people you vent to wisely.
Hold others accountable. You are not here to make friends. You are here to make a movie. You are running a business here, and you are employing several people, even if it’s for a short amount of time, and even if its with other people’s money. This does not mean be an ass. Remember rule #4! And hey, if friendships blossom out of this experience, that’s great! But you are not here for that purpose. That is not why you have established this team of people.
Stay gracious. Similar to #4, but deserving of its own category. You have people coming out of nowhere to give you their money because they believe in your project, and they believe in YOU. Stay gracious. You have people calling you to see what else they can do for you. Stay gracious. You have people thinking about your project, talking it up, finding locations, renting equipment, preparing and auditioning, editing, and the list goes on. All for the project. Stay. Gracious. Moreover, continue to recognize others’ efforts over and over and over.
Keep the big picture in mind. So the food you bought for your cast and crew cost $50 more than expected. That sucks. But is it really that big of a deal? Pretend your time is currency. How much time are you willing to spend stressing about that additional $50? It will work out. It really will. Or, let’s say your first choice actor backed out a week before filming. Shit. That really sucks. But you know what? It will be okay. You will fill the role with someone else, and once you see your final project, you won’t be able to imagine anyone else in that role. Keep your eyes on the prize, baby.
Trust that your team has the best intentions. You’ve already done your biggest job at this point. You’ve hired your cast and crew to the best of your ability. It’s important you communicate your expectations and delegations from the start. If you do so, your next job is to trust your team. We are in a very passionate profession, and we work with very expressive people. There will be times of high stress when we disagree with the way some things are handled. That’s okay. Before any sort of confrontation, remind yourself that your teammates all want what’s best for your project. And on that note, recognize the project doesn’t belong to you anymore. It belongs to the team. As our cinematographer likes to say, “it’s a trust fall.”
Know how to communicate. This is so important. There’s a lot that can be said via text. (When are we meeting again tomorrow? Did you see how much money we made on IndieGoGo today?! Just got your email; I will respond later tonight.), but texting isn’t always the best answer. Sometimes an issue requires a phone call or a face to face. It’s amazing at how much gets lost in text versus with voice inflection. Biggest rule: Keep any sort of confrontation and 99% of debating and/or decisions away from texts.
Have fun! Why else would we be doing this to ourselves? Continue to remind yourself why you’re in this profession. Yes, we want to entertain, and yes we want to change the world, and that’s fantastic! But we also want to enjoy life. Life is too short and projects like this take up too much time for it to be any other way.
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