Do you know the answer to this question? If asked by ten people on ten different occasions, would your answer be the same?
Why do you want to be a filmmaker?
Is it because you love making movies? Is it because you want to see your name up in lights like so many famous filmmakers that came before you? Is it because you're really good at it?
Whatever the reason, it's important to know the answer without a doubt and without hesitation.
Have you ever heard the saying "begin with the end in mind"? This is sage advice when planning for anything and everything. If you want to be a filmmaker, you have to know what the end looks like so you'll be able to identify the steps to get you there.
When working with filmmakers for the first time, we often ask "Why you, why now, and why this film?" What we are trying to tease out are the filmmakers' goals and objectives. Sometimes their answers are about their art: "I want people to see what I can do. I want them to know that I can write, direct, and act." Sometimes their answers are about the money: "I need to pay back my investors." Sometimes their goals are more socially conscious: "I really want to generate awareness about [insert topic here]."
If the goal is to make your art visible to the world, there are plenty of ways to do that. You may not make a penny in the process, but your film will be available for all to see (if they can find it). If the goal is to make money (or even turn a profit), this road is much longer and much more uncertain in the world of the indie filmmaker. You have to understand branding, marketing, PR, contracts, distribution payouts, quarterly reporting, and much more. If you want to be socially conscious, you have to understand your market and know exactly where to engage people who are sympathetic to your cause. After all, the popularity or social relevance of the topic is never enough; there's just way too much competing content out there.
The primary reason you need to ask yourself this question is so that you can begin to chart your unique path to success. This path determines what you need to know, who you need to know, and what tools and techniques you'll need to employ along the way. For every filmmaker that is seeking to reach an audience and make some money in doing so (sorry, purists), here are some areas you'll need to understand:
How to build a brand for yourself.
How to leverage your personal brand to sell your film.
How to identify and engage your target audience.
How to leverage social marketing.
How to leverage digital marketing.
How to find the right distributor.
How to leverage film festivals.
How to build a budget for the lifecycle of your film (not just the production lifecycle).
How to create cover art that sells.
How to create a trailer that sells.
How to build your media library to support your marketing campaign.
How to negotiate a distribution contract.
As you can see, becoming the filmmaker you want to be is likely to require much more than screenwriting or directorial prowess. It requires a skillset that allows you to thrive in the space between the art and the business of film. So, now that you've answered the question "Why do you want to be a filmmaker?" I'll ask you one more:
Do you have what it takes to realize your dreams?
Take a look at yourself and your team. Do you have all of the skills to make, promote, and sell your art? If not, it's time to expand your thinking, your budgets, and your teams.
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!