Bad business advice

http://blog.vincentlaforet.com/2013/08/01/how-to-succeed-as-a-creative-long-term-know-your-c-o-d-b/

The above link to the article about knowing your cost of doing business is informative in that it outlines exactly what any business person should NOT do. 

Good in theory but misleading in reality. The purpose of business is to serve others by supplying a need and to create abundance by sharing profit.

 

Yes, price determined by cost should be used as a platform to create profit margins. But price is based on what the market will pay, which is dependent upon good salesmanship and perceived need, not expenses.

 

You will never grow a business if you have fixed rates based on your personal bubble of needs. You need to be able to negotiate rates and find cheaper ways of doing the same job. Plus, the best business is one that leverages its resources.

 

When you have 5 guys working for you (whether employees or producers or agents), your cost of doing business changes as conpared with doing it all on your own. Maybe you pay a referral rate by giving them a discount for hiring you. So you now spend 20% of your original day rate on sales, but it cost you 0 working days and none of that cost is up front.

 

You may get less than your original rate because of negotiation, but you have more work, which leads to even more job opportunities with less lead development time.

 

It is better to have a smaller piece of a bigger pie when that pie represents a chart of profit share percentage. More sales means less impact on your business per sale. It means more security/accuracy in long-term planning and trend assessment.  It means you will have a greater sense of the market and what rates should be.

Self reliance

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At the end of meditation practice I sat in the silence. The silence slipped away as one of my life challenges presented itself.

“I only have three jobs in my cue; what happens when I finish them?  How will I make more money?”

Money isn’t everything, but a Silverchair lyric reminds me to try to live without it and see how long I live.

“What is there to rely on for a sense of security? Money is fleeting and I need to feel secure.”

The Self is all that is constant.

“How can I rely on Self?  How do I get there?  It seems like an ideal looking down on me from the moon.”

There is only one way: to boldly choose, for no reason, to rely on Self. Cast your anchor of reliance and do not question what is constant and stable.

Once you conquer a fear, the challenge you faced becomes unimportant.  Once I place my faith in God for security, what do I need money for?  It will come or it will not; God has me covered. If I need it, I will have it. If I do not need it, what is the point of having it anyway?

With that mentality, I still may become rich or poor, but it no longer rules my sense of stability.

I believe we come to this world to learn things, and our worldly experience manifests according to those desires. Observing your life from the outside, it makes absolutely no sense.  Random events and catastrophes plague the human condition, and that is multiplied by six billion lives all happening simultaneously.

But through introspection I can make some sense of how I can use my life events as a way to uncover and let go of fears, jealousies, angers, and so on.
But I believe there is a second reason we come here ontop of learning for ourselves. And I believe the second reason is bigger than the first.

The Old Testament says God created each soul with a unique gift. Paramahansa Yogananda says life should be chiefly service. Is not a gift to be given? What better form of service than in the giving of our gift?

I believe we must use our gifts in service (singers, orators, story tellers, child bearers,  teachers, business people, firemen, etc.) primarily and learn lessons and introspect secondarily.

Ultimately,  though, our gifts and introspections will only be as clear as our consciences and our minds. Through loving God in the language of our hearts and through our various religious practices I believe we can more effectively accomplish our earthly missions.

Art & Audience, which holds priority?

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The other day I received an e-mail from an associate in the movie industry (I will not name drop), telling me how terrible The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey was. He thought the story was weak and the character arcs mostly non-existant. I responded, “Ah, you have inspired an interesting philosophical question: Which is more important: the movie or the audience?”

I ask this question, which I’m sure does not have one answer but two, because I think my associate is entitled to his opinion but not entitled to condemning the movie as “terrible” overall. For instance, I doubt he considered the fact that The Hobbit has grossed over $1 billion worldwide (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=hobbit.htm). Could this movie really be terrible if it has warranted such financial success, and therefor such a huge number of viewers?

A lot of people will argue that there is a bias among Tolkien fans and that’s the majority of the viewers. I argue that it is impossible to believe one billion dollars’ worth of theater audiences has read and is a fan of the LoTR series.

So was The Hobbit really terrible? I saw it at an Arclight Theater. It was pretty boring. I almost walked out several times. But I cannot say the movie was terrible when so many people apparently love it.

What is the purpose of a movie anyway? I believe it has not changed since the inception of movie making. I believe the purpose of a movie is to hold the attention of the viewer for the duration of the show, whatever it is. It’s like an advanced version of a play, or a speech, or any other method of communication. But communication is not effective without the participation of the listener and that’s how I come to my belief around the purpose of movies.

Box office success does not indicate artistic value or aesthetic, but it seems to be relevant to efficacy of audience engagement. Sure, we could make movies purely to hold the audience’s attention by appealing to the lower instincts, and I believe Hollywood would if it were not for the rating system being a limiting factor for profit making. But there is also an opportunity to serve an audience. I believe it is the obligation of the entertainer to somehow serve his or her audience in an uplifting way. I am optimistic that some of Hollywood agrees with me on this idea.

Please share your thoughts… what is more important to you and why?

Hard Knox Film School: Good things pass by those who wait

When preparing for a project which involves moving parts like your first feature film, you need to strike a balance between planning and executing. This is true in any worthwhile undertaking. But most people fail to recognize that waiting for the right opportunity doesn’t work.

Imagine in this case that your opportunity is to shoot your movie and you want to begin shooting “when the time is right.”

In reading the following list of preproduction items, please decide what you think is absolutely essential to have before picking dates for principle photography. In other words, what assets from this list do you believe are a prerequisite to committing to shooting your first feature film?

- script
– talent
– locations
– budget
– shoot dates
– crew
– insurance
– toilet facilities

A very general list, indeed, and lacking detail, but it serves its purpose.

Here’s a list of what I had before planning Principle for Neshima:

- nothing

The point is, in my head, I would say you need all those things. But life is not linear and you cannot be successful by thinking linearly. If you wait to have something before you allow yourself to seize your opportunity, you will inevitably find another thing which you “need first” once you have the first prerequisite thing.

Get out of the habit of placing obstacles before your goals.

By the time we set foot on that forest location on day 1, we had half our crew, 10% of our budget, the 15th draft of the script, half our locations, and thank God the porta potty was on time delivering.

What if we had postponed shooting for six months in order to secure all these things?

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You see a photo above of a cleared-out backyard. Just nine months prior to this photo, we filmed a few dozen scenes next to trees, bushes, and plants that no longer exist. Our entire village location was surrounded by thick forest and is now cleared out. On one side you can easily see houses as well.

Do no wait for opportunity. You must create it.

In summation, I only got my beautiful, perfect location because I did not wait for my plans to be beautiful and perfect in my head before executing.

“You could have just found another location”

Thank you for your vote of confidence.

Please go find me a location. Please spend six months scouring for a forest on the coast of Southern California that is within driving distance of Los Angeles and San Diego, which does not require you to pay $60/hr for a fire marshall to be present during shooting hours alongside a $45/hr police officer and a $30/hr park ranger to ensure no damage is done to the location.

Oh, so you found it but then you waited for everything else on your preproduction list to be perfect before you began shooting in that location and now it’s been destroyed? Just go find another one.

Good things come once

I treat an opportunity as unique and rare. By doing so, I am validating all the effort I put into creating that opportunity. The chance to shoot at that particular location was so precious because of how much time and effort I placed into finding it. Once found, you must cherish it like it’s a fragile thing that will expire soon. In this case with Arteht, it really did expire! The trees will not grow back because they’re planting non-native trees and cutting it back even further.

First Tommy Friedman directed feature film

So the title is cheesy, especially by including Tommy Friedman in it. But unfortunately for the world of feature films and independent directors, I believe that shameless plugs are sometimes necessary.

This film (Neshima) is my first major feature. It’s my second independent film, but I believe it will be the first one people will recognize as a real movie. You can watch Time Flies on my Tommy Friedman Vimeo page if you’re interested in seeing how far $250 and a lot of friends can take you.

You’ll notice the picture in this blog is of me next to a Lamborghini Gallardo. I must admit, one of my less righteous desires is owning an exotic car. But considering how much good I could do with $350K, lately I’ve thought about just renting one from time to time.

Oh and now for the insight I promised myself I would share at least once per blog entry… Directing an independent feature film, and probably a studio-backed film to a lesser extent? Does not stop after the edit. The role ha changed though. Or maybe my definition of directing is maturing as I gain more experience on this movie.

I have to make sure I don’t get caught up in the feelings associated with an “important” position. Every time a frame is changed in a scene, by me or someone else, it makes a difference on the show. I need to keep the attitude of honoring the project ahead of my feelings of importance or stature. Those feelings are not helpful. In fact, they tend to distract me from having a good time and making good progress.

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Film Festivals and Post Production

Nobody will do your work for you. Yes you can delegate work, but you cannot delegate dharma. Nobody can do your dharma for you (maybe your dharma is delegation).

We are springing off another plateau of development with Neshima. It’s time to set up our Adobe After Effects workstation. Mike and I cleared out a space in his living room (my bedroom) an by the end of the day we should be able to get some footage onto the old Dell computer Cory gave me last year. We are using DnxHD (an Avid codec I believe) for our offline edit. It takes some getting-used-to to use because we shot at 5K using Red Epic and now we have to look at a 36 bit render. Oh well. We got used to it.

The photo I attached to this blog is a simple schedule I made up last night. It wasn’t the first time I made our schedule for post production. That simple schedule has come after months of reworking an hours of talking through it all. That’s why it looks so simple now, I believe.

Now with Berlin Film Festival and Sundance submission dates on the horizon, our goals and due dates have become more important. Now they hold more weight and are not just props to keep us motivated.

Often times I see due dates and goals as motivational tools to get me where I want to go, but they are flexible. But they are flexible only to a point because they need to hold enough weight to get you to perform.

More later…

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Still homeless Tommy Friedman

Still couch surfing. Late nights and odd work hours. Parts of me are falling apart… I guess the old parts of me that cannot survive my new conditions.

I plan to finish this movie (Neshima) and show it at colleges around California with a Q&A session attached. Sort of a road trip I guess.

The film is now 2hrs (started at 2.5). Looks like we will hit about 1hr 50min.

Final Cut Pro has its limitations. Mike and I are setting up a new work station tomorrow with Adobe After Effects on it. I’ve got some tutorial videos to help me and thank God, Mike knows how to use it well.

I’ve had a number of dreams about family and acquaintances lately. All of them have been about reliving emotional experiences but in new circumstances, except I’ve made new choices around the circumstances. I guess you could say I’m going through some form of change or transformation. I’m not scared but definitely contemplative or reflective.

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