Don’t Lose Focus Over Christmas

It’s the Festive Season. It’s so EASY to lose your mojo re your career, your goals. Just because it’s a ‘holiday’ there is no reason to stop climbing that big plastic mountain we call ‘success’

The following advice is aimed mainly at the film students and newly-hatched filmmakers who are likely to be reading this. Others may choose to ignore this, or keep reading for nostalgia purposes.

I cannot begin to tell you how much you SHOULD be doing RIGHT NOW, film noob. However, three paragraphs into this, it appears that I have begun. “Begun what?” you may very well ask. You may go on to say, “Aren’t you pretty much stalled in your third paragraph, standing in a rhetorical hall of mirrors, busily asking yourself what you’re writing, not really getting on with it?” It may appear that way, Grasshopper, but that was an OBJECT LESSON that we will set aside for later.

So, if you would care to read the following guidelines and follow them to a T, you will begin next year refreshed in your purpose rather than bloated and blinking in the spotlight like a marmoset caught mid-shag by the BBC Natural History Unit.

For the object of this exercise, you are a director-producer-writer.


1. Form a film company. Technically it won’t be a company subject to company law – it’ll actually be you and some mates calling yourselves a company. But that in itself will give you a tremendous psychological advantage over someone else who is merely making a film.

2. Find a cool name for your company. Slightly obscure is good “Burning Merkin” for example will probably be understood by few but sounds kinda ambitious even though it really isn’t.

3. Or name your company after a favourite character from childhood not currently under the protection of international trademark laws, so Marine Boy pictures might fly, but The Little Mermaid Media will probably bring the down the full force of the Disney Company’s law firm on your neck.

4. Come up with a slate of projects. This should be 7 or 8 loglines that sound exciting and different and cover a gamut of genres. Contemporary Drama – “Guy discovers he’s a robot – then at the climax learns he’s bomb and has defuse himself in order to save family.” Comedy – a wisecracking robot discovers its humanity by sacrificing itself and saving a family from a terrorist bomb.” Science Fiction – World leaders gather in a European City and hammer out an agreement on Climate Change.

5. Come up with a kickass poster and title for your film or films. Sure, this sounds counter-intuitive, right? You haven’t done anything yet. Isn’t this a job for marketing and distribution types? What the…? Come on, you! It’s like the cornfield says in Kevin Costner’s FIELD OF DREAMS – if you build it, they will come.”

6. Talk to the suburban press about your film. Appear in a photograph either gesturing at your poster, peering through a small video camera or holding a large film reel borrowed from a local mom and pop cinema that’s about to shut down. If you can do all three, that’s even better. Remember although you only have a logline, speak as though you’re only hours away from the first day of your shoot.

7. Make a YouTube promo of your film. Use images from the ‘net. Rip off a version of ‘Mars’ from Holst’s The Planets. Tweet and Facebook to your fan base that you’ve made the promo.

8. Create a Facebook fan-page. You haven’t done this yet? Bloody hell – even Mr Trivia has a Facebook fan page!

9. Start talking with your cinematographer, ignore his or her requests for a storyboard – that’s a made up thing that DPs go on and on because they’re afraid of spontaneity on set. But you – you’re an artist; you’re all jazz and cubism and beat poetry. Don’t be caged in by this kind of structure. No storyboard.

10. Think about writing a treatment. This is kinda where the ‘story’ or ‘plot’ is written down so catering has something to read while the urn is boiling. Under no circumstances write a script. Dialogue is something that actors are trained to make up on the spot (see Oceans 12 and Oceans 13).

11. Get a job. Or if you have a job get a second job. The bills are mounting and you gotta start paying for all of this.

12. Find someone who made a powerpoint presentation once or even better, shot a friend’s wedding and edited in iMovie. This person is your editor, also known as ‘post’. This is the person you’re referring to when you say, “we’ll fix it in post,” a phrase you will utter every day for next 11-18 months.

And there you have it! You are well on you’re way my noobish, friend. Follow these guidelines and you will be in the process of making a film – the same film – for the next three glorious years! How cool is that?

Mr Trivia – out!

P.S. Who noticed that we didn’t swing back to the OBJECT LESSON? Well done, you – I owe you a Freddo Frog! Next time, huh?

0 thoughts on “Don’t Lose Focus Over Christmas

  1. laughed milo out of my nose. oh dignified i am, and hilarious you are 🙂 🙂 it’s funny ’cause it’s true.
    apologies for no capital letters, typing one handed, holding milo with other….

  2. If only I had these instructions when I first started out…I could have short cutted my first production by about a year 😉

    PS I care not that cutted is not a word any corrections will be noted but ignored

  3. another essential

    you won’t be able to afford to pay anyone, so devise a complicated scheme for giving crew a percentage out of the ‘back-end’. Don’t worry is your maths doesnt make any sense, or you only have a hazy idea at best about what ‘back-end’ means, as however it pans out

    $0 x X% = $0

  4. April – Milo out of nose – is great compliment!
    Aaron – I think they should teach this at TAFE and Uni.
    Cass – Nice addition. A pure “cheque is in the mail” style utterance.
    Evangeline – I am confident that you will.
    Tanya – So pleased to know it’s working already!

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