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The Lottery Myth

There is a myth every filmmaker was told to believe at the start of our career:

That is we just make the right film. Then Hollywood would come find it. And they would give us the resources in order to make whatever we imagined. Now for some, this might be true. There are people who do indeed make a great film and the door is swung wide open for them. However, that is almost like winning the lottery.

And you can’t build a career on buying bingo tickets.

There is a version of success for every filmmaker who commits themselves to building a body of work. Once you realize that the cavalry isn’t coming. You start to find ways to create your own version of success. For some of us, that might lead to working on big budget films on studio lots and flying all over the world. For others, it might mean having a small but sustainable following that allows us to make the work we find impactful.

The insidious part about the myth is that it makes us waste our most valuable resource – our time. It makes us create with the goal of wishing and waiting. Instead of the goal of creating and connecting. It takes the power away from us. And gives it to someone else who’s in charge of making our dreams come true.

While making a film is an expensive and time-consuming endeavor. It doesn’t have to be a soul-burning one. And I’ve found the best way to make films for the right reasons – to tell great stories and create an impact for your audience.

Always A Solution

When I began working as a Production Manager. I was forced to realize something:

There is a solution to every problem. But sometimes its not the one you want.

When we encounter issues in life, we can get stuck in Problem Mode. And that’s because we have a particular solution in mind. We have one way that we want to solve the issue. And we’re stuck trying to force a particular outcome. But once you start looking at other options. Then you realize that you can actually solve the issue that you’re having.

My mother and grandmother used to tell me “There’s no such thing as can’t.” And the smart-ass in me would say things like “well, you can’t fly.” But they were both actually right. There is no such thing as can’t. It’s just a matter of finding the right approach. A lot of times, we already know what the answer is. It’s just something that we don’t want to do. Most of the time out of fear. But sometimes also out of ego – which can also come from fear.

A simple first step is to replace the phrase “I can’t” with the question “How can I?” That shift have you thinking about the different possibilities. Which leads you to solving the problem.

The Next Step

Every year I think about what I want to accomplish. For the longest time, I’ve written one thing at the top of the list:

Make a feature film.

I’ve made a lot of short form content – narrative shorts and documentaries. But the creation of something long form has always eluded me.

Some of that comes from my own fear. Some of it from trying to go too big – like a film that needs 1 million to “do it right”. But this year, I’m going to put my money where my mouth is. I tell people often to start where they’re at and then scale up. So I’m going to take my own medicine.

I have some equipment and the whole city of Los Angeles to build a narrative around. I’m working on the script right now which should be done by the end of February.

But by the end of the year, I will have a feature film made. No excuses this time.

Is it frightening to do? Yes. But part of bravery is knowing that you’re afraid – and doing it anyway.

What’s the worse that could happen – it sucks and I make another one that’s better?