Updated: May 21, 2020
In this series, we consider how the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey relates to indie filmmakers. In this post, we discuss the "Be Proactive" habit.
Your success begins and ends with you and the collection of choices that define your journey. You can either make those choices yourself, leveraging your own intelligence, experience, wisdom, and intuition or you can let others make those choices for you. Being proactive is about taking responsibility for your actions, your choices, and ultimately your future. If you allow others to take the wheel, you'll go where they want you to go, not where you want to go.
As a creative, it can seem like a no-brainer that you must be proactive in order to create your art so that the world can see it. Artists are often the singular guides to bringing about their inner visions. But what happens when it's no longer just about the art? What happens when art turns to business?
In independent filmmaking, there are a few myths that are pervasive throughout the community. These myths lead filmmakers to believe that someone other than themselves is ultimately responsible for the success of their films. Here are two of those myths:
Myth #1. Winning a Film Festival is the Key to Selling My Film
Film Festivals are designed as opportunities to celebrate the art of filmmaking while providing networking and educational opportunities for the filmmaking community. Film Festivals are not markets and they do not guarantee interest from studios nor distributors.
Winning a film festival in any category is truly an accomplishment and will certainly help validate your claims regarding the quality of you work, but it is not a silver bullet. Placing your faith in a festival to be the springboard to your success is a passive approach because this means you've placed your future in the hands of those you hope will be interested in taking you to the next level. Unfortunately, those chances may be less than 1 in a million. Though we encourage you to enter film festivals (the right festivals for your film), it is important to use them as a tool along the way and not to rest your laurels on...laurels.
Myth #2: Distributors Will Brand and Market My Film
If you're fortunate enough to find a distributor for you film, it is important to know that most distributors of indie film content do not have the infrastructure to do branding and marketing. That's your job. The major studios pour millions of dollars into their tentpole films because they can guarantee a return on their investment. Smaller distributors do not have that luxury on either side of the coin. Not only do they not have the funds to pour into marketing for every film in their slate, they can't guarantee a return on investment.
If you are betting on a distributor to make your film a success by leveraging their name and their connections, we'd advise you to keep that bet and invest it in your own marketing campaign. This is yet another area where taking control of your future can mean the difference between the life and death of your film. You are ultimately responsible for building the brand of your film, just as the major studios are. They leverage recognizable talent and prolific brands to sell their films. It's up to you to build a brand for yourself and your film that fosters audience engagement so that your distributor will have someone to sell to.
For indie filmmakers, being proactive is all about taking care of your baby. You brought it into this world, you've nurtured it and you've helped it grow. Though you may partner with others along the way to give it the life it deserves, no one else will ever love it the way that you do. After all, it is your baby and it is your responsibility to help it reach its full potential.
Be Better. Be Creative. Be Engaged.
If you're looking for someone to help you on your creative journey, feel free to reach out to us. We'd love to work with you!