This week, after 12 years of trying (and failing) to produce a feature film, we started official pre-production on a movie!
It's a dream that I wanted - in a very specific way - for so long, so I wanted to talk about it.
Some people have asked me over the years why I hadn't produced a micro-budget movie, something in the $100-250k range.
- you can't pay people living wages
- you usually only have around 12 days to shoot the movie
- not enough budget for proper food, locations, stunts, equipment, etc. so you're working super scrappy
- you're sacrificing quality
Now, none of these things are absolutely true, but my desire was to make a movie that I could hire all of my professional, working film friends on; that had enough time to tell the story properly, that could afford SAG (Screen Actors Guild) actors and DGA (Directors Guild) people on the production crew; that could have a proper timeline for post production (editing, sound, color), and could look and feel like a real movie.
That meant something in the upper six-figures, budget wise, at minimum.
The reason it took so long for me to produce a film at that budget, my first film at that budget, is because I hadn't shown the marketplace that I could deliver yet.
From 2009 to 2017, I co-wrote half a dozen screenplays, a few TV pilots, and a bunch of short films.
None of those justified someone with money to part with that money in order to invest in those projects. It's possible I just wasn't good at pitching/marketing them, but I think the clearer disconnect was that the "offer" wasn't right.
We didn't have a name director, or a-list cast, or anything to justify hundreds of thousands - let alone millions - of dollars it would have taken to produce those projects.
Skip forward to 2018. I start working as a senior producer on Relative Race for BYUTV. That's a show that costs millions of dollars to produce. Someone was trusting me with chunk of that to bring the show to life. (I produced the Green Team for seasons 4-7).
That stint on the show increased my value as a producer. I had some experience and results that I could point to.
During that same period I started working with BetRed Stories here in Utah. They needed someone to help produce their projects, but weren't ready for a full-time, in-house producer yet.
I was a perfect fit.
I helped produce a few smaller documentary and commercial projects, read feature scripts and gave notes, and created budgets and schedules for them to take out with their project pitches.
Again, I was able to show value in a new way, and my personal value and experience as a producer increased again.
In February, BetRed called me to ask me to help produce this movie.
Not be a production assistant, or a sound guy (which I had done on other film projects 8+ years ago), but a full-fledged producer.
Because the "offer" changed.
I had changed.
Sometimes it's not about hustle. It's more about patience and resilience and grit. About having a goal and not giving up until it is attained.
I think it's the exception rather than the norm that someone would work towards something for more than a decade without many signs that it would ever work out. (Maybe I'm not counting some of the signs that were there all along - that's certainly possible).
My lesson for this week is that if you want something badly enough, keep working toward it consistently over time, get better every day at your craft, and find ways to provide value to others in your industry, that day can - and, dare I say, will come.
Don't give up. Keep going. Some dreams just take longer than others.
PS - What are you dreaming of doing/becoming/accomplishing someday? What are you working towards? I'd love to know. Hit reply and send me an email, I read every one!