Updated: May 21
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 I: D is for Definition" with a focus on "Cautions and Comparisons".
When meeting with filmmakers, we always begin our discussions with the end in mind. We want to know what their goals and aspirations are so that we know how best to guide them. The most common response we get is something along the lines of "to get my film funded, produced, and into distribution". The challenge with this type of thinking is that it's too short-term in nature. Though the lifecycle of a film from funding to distribution can be three to five years, setting your goals around a single film doesn't help build a career as a filmmaker.
Unfortunately for many indie filmmakers, there is still a pervasive belief that a single film will be the springboard to a fulfilling and sustainable filmmaking career. This belief that their next project, if only funded and completed, will be the best thing that film-going audiences have seen since [insert comp list here], is characteristic of the Unicorn Dreamer (UD) mindset.
In this day and age, this type of thinking is what creates an endless sea of movie shelf-ware and shattered dreams. After all, unicorns are far from the norm. By definition, unicorns are rare and exceptional. Additionally, the business of film today isn't built on single projects; it's built on franchises, brands, and slates, none of which are sustainable on the back of a single film.
In this new wave of filmmaking, where content creation and consumption are distributed across a wide variety of digital media, filmmakers need to shift from the UD mindset to a Content Creator (CC) mindset. As a Content Creator, a filmmaker's brand is built and sustained on the development of a portfolio of consistent, curated content that serves an identifiable market.
Here’s the difference between the mindset of Unicorn Dreamer vera us a Content Creator:
UD: Build and finance a budget for my next film.
CC: Build and finance a budget for my content portfolio. This include generating a continuous flow of financing for a slate of content, marketing, branding, and audience engagement.
UD: Identify cast and crew for my next film.
CC: Identify a team of cast and crew who will work with me on building my portfolio and who will stick around for the long haul.
UD: Get a distribution deal.
CC: Identify the best distribution method(s) for my content by evaluating self-distribution and traditional distribution options.
UD: Leverage my distributor's brand and industry influence to market my film.
CC: Own my personal branding and marketing to include every piece of content in my portfolio. Continuously engage my audience from day one to build an appetite for my work. Leverage my distributor's brand, my personal brand, and the brand of all of my content contributors to market my portfolio.
As you can see, the main difference between the UD mindset and the CC mindset is in the level of control you take in crafting your future. In this highly-competitive and saturated industry, indie filmmakers have to change their thinking to ensure their survival. When competing for viewership against big box studios and social media content creators, indie filmmakers have to get on board with building their own personal brands and creating opportunities for consistent audience engagement.
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!