In this series, we consider how the four major steps outlined in The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss relate to indie filmmakers. In this post, we discuss "Step III: A is for Automation" with a twist for the filmmaking community.
In this section of his book, Tim Ferriss doubles down on his belief that you are at your best when your time is spent doing the most important work: the 20% of the input that provides 80% of your output. To achieve this, he discusses the importance of automation and outsourcing as a means of divesting yourself of tedious, time-consuming tasks that take you away from providing the true, unique value that you alone bring to your business endeavors.
Since filmmaking is as much a creative endeavor as it is a business one, we'd like to replace "Automation" in this context with "Augmentation". As a filmmaker, you can't (and shouldn't) do everything yourself. A "Jack of all trades but master of none" does many things well, but will often fall short of the greatness needed to compete in any industry.
Filmmakers often understand this when it comes to film production, hiring Assistants to handle production tasks that, though necessary, would otherwise detract from the Producer's and Director's ability to steer the ship. But filmmakers often fall short of augmenting their creative abilities with the skills needed to operate the business of film. The result is that many (if not most) films don't make it into formal distribution and lack the assets needed to effectively promote themselves to their target markets.
As a filmmaker, you are a creative who is seeking opportunities to promote your work, demonstrate your skills, and build a network that will expand your reach into and across the film industry. As an indie filmmaker, you do this on shoestring budgets, on borrowed time, and with limited resources at your disposal. This is why it is important to focus your time and effort on what you are good at, while augmenting your skills with the support of others who can fill in the gaps.
In the business of film, there should be a production team and a distribution team. The production team brings the project to life; the distribution team helps bring the project to light. When building your next film budget, consider building in the cost of a few key resources (described below) to address what we believe to be critical gaps for indie filmmakers.
Branding and Marketing Strategy
The brand of your film is the persona it has in the marketplace. It is what differentiates your film from other content, facilitates a connection with your target audience, and sets expectations for the value and quality of your work. This is something that should be built from day one in parallel with the production of your film.
Having resources dedicated to the definition, growth, and proliferation of your brand is what will ensure that there is an audience waiting for you when your film is done. Without a brand, you have no identity. Without an identity, you don't exist.
Film Asset Management