How to Make Bigger Films with Better Crews

– Posted in: Directing Films and Videos Growing Professionally and Staying Creatively Inspired


If you’re not getting the kind of filmmaking opportunities you want,  you’re probably not building and leveraging what you have. Make bigger films!

In this post I’m going to explain why leverage is the one of the most important tools a filmmaker can learn to use. We’ll also explore what can be accomplished with exponential leverage. Seriously, think about it. This is as more powerful then compound interest. In this blog post I’ll show you clear steps to leveraging your way into bigger and better opportunities. But first, I need to ask you a question. What do you have to offer –  yes, you? Answering this question is a key first step. If you can’t clearly point to a well defined “value collection”, your project is crippled. Value ” – is how you hire people you can’t afford. Your first and ongoing job as a filmmaker is to create value. If you can do that you will eventually succeed. No question. One of the most basic forms of increasing power is to use leverage, but  leverage needs a force. That force is you. At stage one you are the only force your project has. You are the entire value collection, the entire package. Once you add a script, the package becomes you and the script and the force you need is increasing. If you do a script breakdown, a vision board and a production schedule your force increases. Once you start recruiting crew and actors;  it’s you, your script, your reputation, and your network. As you can see you are now a “part” of the value package and not the entire package. Each of these new assets individually add value to the package but, together their sum is worth more then their parts. If this is your first or second short film, your value package doesn’t need to be overly impressive. It’s enough that your are helpful, friendly and that you have a reputation for treating people well. Regardless of how good your script is, or how little you know, you’ll find people to help because they like you or because they’re also interested in filmmaking. You’re job as a beginning filmmaker is to learn, provide opportunities for others, build a network and become the best leader you can be. In the beginning it’s fairly simple, the people you’re recruiting want to:

    • have fun


  • help a friend



  • meet people



  • learn filmmaking from what you do right and by your mistakes



If  this is your first film, make sure everyone has fun, eats well and is treated with respect.  Remember, we don’t know what we don’t know and that’s ok. Your making this and the next film to learn.  Eventually your artistic expectations will grow along with the list of equipment, locations, cast and crew. Unfortunately budgets don’t grow as fast as expectations.  So what can you do?  Hire people you can’t afford. Yes, that’s what I said. Think about that for a second, it makes sense – right? It’s actually a no brainer. If you want your work to be better,  you need to surround your self with great people. This is true in every business, and especially true if you want to grow as a filmmaker. The big questions are:

    • Do you want to grow?


  • Do you want to grow at an accelerated rate?



  • Are you willing to stretch out of your comfort zones?



If you want to make good and great films the answer must be – YES! Working with people who are also on the path of growth is the only way to make great films with little to no money. This is where leverage enters the scene. When you don’t have big dollars and you want something from someone, you need to find out what they want first. In the film industry, cinematographers, crew members and actors need to accept opportunities to work. In the beginning their standards are usually low, but eventually they get better at their craft and even better at evaluating a value-package. This “value-package” is you and your collection of pre-production goods. This is what they want and your leverage.

    • An opportunity to practice their craft


  • A chance to work with and network with other respected artists



  • A job that is fun



  • An opportunity to be apart of something bigger then they are



  • A chance to grow faster then they can alone



These are motivating factors for people who care about filmmaking. Not just the product of filmmaking, but the craft and the process of filmmaking. I’m calling this “leverage” because  they represent value to the motivated individual. Here’s how how to create value.

    • Impress the hell out of them by being incredibly organized.


  • Have location photos



  • Create directors vision board



  • Have a reputation of finishing your projects (even simple, unremarkable projects)



  • Create a few story boards



  • Do a script breakdown



Some of the things I’m listing here are done by the department heads, but you can do them yourself. This is especially doable if you’re making a short film. Yes – It’s hard work , but that’s why it’s valuable. I promise, if you get even a few of these pre-production things done, you’ll find cinematographers, art directors, actors and even experienced producers wanting to climb aboard your train.

    • Your attitude and hard work got the train moving.


  • A moving train has momentum and opportunity.



Key people recognize the power of a moving train and they will want to bring others be on board. That’s how this industry works. That’s where the saying “Best Boy” comes from. Everyone wants their best boy or best girl by there side. Do you see what’s happening here? When you bring in the right people they make things happen, they’re plugged into a community of others looking for opportunities. You are the source of opportunity and leverage is at work. It’s not rocket science. Remember  – Hire people you can’t afford and pay them with value. It works every time.

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