Briefly tell us your background
10 years in the entertainment industry; primary roles – Producer, Director, “clutch player”, consultant. Started in radio producing live broadcasts and commercials, moved into television production, working on several shows for WE TV, opted for freelance for less-constricting work; moved into managing a small production company –marketing, social media, newletters, production, scheduling, delivery, customer service, etc.; in 2010, began producing and primarily working on feature films.
What current or recent project are you working on, and what is your role?
I just wrapped a two-day shoot for Jaguar/Land Rover as a producer of content for national and international news outlets and internal media. In the majority of the other time I have, I’m cultivating and creating content for DIYFilmSchool.net. I’m also wrapping up a feature that’s set to be released in 2013. I’m like Caine in “Kung Fu”, just wandering the country helping people.
What are some of the things you had to do to personally prepare for this role, especially as it relates to getting the project off the ground?
Pray. At first all I had was a book that God had given me to write, So You Want to Be a Production Assistant. I just wanted to put it on Amazon and be done with it, to get to the second and third books. The second one is going to be hugely valuable to people who want to make movies but have no theoretical or practical understanding of the process. Naturally, that one is called “GO MAKE MOVIES”, but it won’t be out for a little while.
Filmmaking is a malleable business, with technology constantly improving. I tend to specialize in fundamentals, but even with that, I have a wealth of knowledge and experience, so my biggest challenge so far has been determining how in-depth to go for my readers.
I’ve had to learn a slew of things I thought I’d have little use for — social media, marketing, SEO, PPC, etc. I have a voracious desire to learn and know the truth, but it’s been a strange transition picking up and learning how to traverse the various media outlets available to businesses. Each has their own rules, guidelines and principles.
What was the most difficult challenge you had in bringing this project to fruition?
Probably getting over the hump that I have information to share and people actually would want to hear what I have to say. As the months have passed, I have visible results, not only with the growth of the site and the brand’s web presence, but also in terms of my clients and their work.
What was the best part of the project for you personally?
Helping people. I really don’t care too much about what happens to me in the Industry because I feel as though I may have done enough at this point – radio, TV, film, commercials, all sorts of things. Plus, I’ve never put much stock in a “title.” I get a bigger charge out of helping people succeed and teaching others than I do pretending I care about Hollywood, so this kind of a thing seems to have been a natural progression for me.
What’s the biggest thing or things you learned from doing this project?
I’ve had to learn a slew of skills that I wouldn’t have cared to learn otherwise – social media, marketing, creating an infrastructure. There’s a lot of things to do in the background before I can actually do anything. A lot of people see a video and may think that it’s no big deal to put it out, but they totally miss everything that had to happen beforehand – topic creation, media collection, if it’s an interview, scheduling – plus editing takes time. I have spent several days assembling, rendering (there’s a time-suck!) and export, but people only take into consideration the product. But, that tends to be the same with people who cast off a bad film. Okay, you think it sucks, but could you pull something off that’s better than that?
I’ve also learned of some rigid, societal conformism regarding education and filmmaking, like it’s a big friggin’ myth or some set way that you have to do things. Get out there and do it; quit waiting for some “guru” to show you your path. People still think they need a degree to accomplish something. What you need is perseverance, determination and fundamentals. [DS - sounds like you need to be an entrepreneur to me!]
What’s one piece of advice would you give to someone considering a project like this and/or a career like yours?
If you’re going to work in the Industry you need to define for yourself why it is you want to be in it. It’s not glamorous. There are some cool perks sometimes, but it’s a job just like working in an office is a job or being a video game store clerk is a job. What sets apart the cream from the crop is the reason why a person is in it. Can you find a real reason why you’re in the Industry? Your driving force, Can you honestly say you could do something other than being a filmmaker (or whatever it is you want to do)?
Once you find that thing, that raison d’etre, just keep saying yes. Do a great job, be punctual, be kind, ask questions and ALWAYS be learning!
There are more details to this and more traits to have that I cover in So You Want to Be a Production Assistant, and I feel like this is a topic better suited for a discussion, teleconference or webinar. I do have one planned for the near future; maybe I can find a place for it there. Or make a video; one of the two.
Will we get a chance to see this project on screen? How and where?
You can see DIYFilmSchool online all day, every day on YouTube, Quora, Twitter and of course at DIYFilmSchool.net. You can still catch some of the TV shows I’ve worked on on WE TV, Biography, TLC, Speed Network and a few of the movies I’ve worked on or helped produce are on Netflix. The only thing I can tell you about the film that’s in post right now is that it’s going to be released in 2013. A theatrical release would be awesome; I think it’s going to play the festivals – Sundance, LA Film Fest, etc. It’s really up to the director and executive producer.
What’s next for you after this project?
Sleep. Just kidding…
While I haven’t confirmed it as of this writing, I’m slated to speak at the Victoria Texas Independent Film Festival next year, I have an interview (probably a series of discussions) slated soon with one of my clients who went from zero-to-expert in about three months, plus I’m putting together the 2012 Holiday Gear Guide with my friend Daniel Jacobs, which will be awesome. Aside from that, I’m constantly thinking up things to talk about, getting info out to the world and figuring out ways to help people. As we expand, we’re going to have a series of books and/or audio programs that cover various aspects and roles in the Industry; real-world advice and info that you can’t get in film school from people who are excellent at what they do for a fraction of the cost of what you’d pay for tuition.
If you have questions about how to make a film or how to break in to the Industry, you’re welcome to contact us at email@example.com, and on Quora. Twitter and YouTube, to me, don’t really afford the luxury of discussions. I’m planning on rolling out a consulting program in the near future, probably by the beginning of the New Year, so people can take advantage of unparalleled access to me as they get their projects off the ground. Basically, I’ll spill my guts in a way that you can’t necessarily get in a book or video (though those are quality) for a reasonable fee. Details will emerge when it’s ready. Sign up for the DIY Newsletter at www.DIYFilmSchool.net to be kept in the loop.