7 Habits and Indie Filmmaking - 2. Begin with the End in Mind

Updated: May 21

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 "Begin with the End in Mind" habit.


This habit is all about your goals and how you define success for yourself, not just the project you're working on today. The "End" is a combination of a number of factors that will serve as guideposts to your decisions and markers for your success. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself to define what the "End" goal truly is:


1. What do you want to be known as?


This question gets to the heart of the value that you as an individual bring to the community and the role you choose to take on to provide it. Are you a Director who injects comedy and whimsy into your work to evoke positive responses from your audiences in the delivery of timely social messaging? Are you a Documentarian who dares to tell untold stories to highlight the realities of the human experience? Are you a Writer who infuses unmistakably identifiable characters into uniquely fantastical worlds that rethink our childhood fairytales?


To answer this question, simply frame your response like this:


"I want to be known as [adjective] [role] with a unique talent for [area of specialty]."


The action should be an expression of what differentiates you in the role that you choose.


A response would like something like this:


"I want to be known as an [award-winning] [Director] with a unique talent for [whimsical infusions of fantasy, comedy, and sci-fi]."


2. What do you want to be known for?


This question is about the work that you do and its value to a community.


The work is defined by the projects you work on like short films, feature films, documentaries, music videos, and episodic content. It is also informed by the genre you select (e.g., Comedy, Drama, Horror, Action, etc). Being specific in these two areas allows you to focus your efforts, education, and expertise thereby enabling you to continuously build and maximize your potential. Spreading yourself too thin, however, will make it difficult to pinpoint the things that you are especially good at. After all, being a "Jack of all trades and a master at none" will always make you second choice to someone who specializes in any given area.


The value part of the equation is all about the standout elements of your work that distinguish you within the communities you serve (we'll talk about defining those communities in a bit). As a filmmaker, your work will serve one or more of three purposes:


  • To entertain

  • To educate

  • To inspire


It's important to identify which of these means the most to you and how you intend on leveraging your art to make it happen.


To answer this question, simply frame your response like this:


"I want to be known for [genre] [film type] that [purpose]."


A response would like something like this:


I want to be known for [romance and fantasy] [feature films] that [inspire audiences to find their own unique paths to self-actualization].



3. By whom do you want to be known?


This is about the communities from whom you get your recognition. Being specific here enables you to make the subject matter, cinematography, and casting decisions needed to to get your community's attention. It also helps you to choose the projects that best align to your goals while turning down the ones that don't.


There are few types of communities for you to choose from each of which is defined by its purpose. These include:


  • Those who share the same interests

  • Those who are attempting to bring about change

  • Those brought together by geographic boundaries

  • Those who share the same profession

  • Those brought together by circumstance


To answer this question, simply frame your response like this:


"I want to be recognized by [community]."


A response would look something like this:


I want to be recognized by [the filmmaking community and those who seek inspirational content].


Putting it All Together


Now that you've answered each of these questions, it's time to clearly define what the "End" looks like so that you can begin taking the right steps and making the right choices to achieve it. Let's see what it looks like when you put all of the pieces together. To do this, you'll put your answers together in this order:


Answer 3 + Answer 1 + Answer 2


Here is an example:


"I want to be recognized by the filmmaking community and those who seek inspirational content as an award-winning Director with a unique talent for whimsical infusions of fantasy, comedy, and sci-fi into romance and fantasy feature films that inspire audiences to find their own unique paths to self-actualization."


At this point, with a statement like that, you can feel free to drop the mic and begin with the end in mind.


[Insert mic drop here.]


As always,


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!



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