So, you have a great idea for a film or video project, congratulations!
I suspect you’re looking into film and video consulting services because you want to make sure your project is a success. And, you’re thinking that if “this-project” can provide you with enough income and boost your reputation enough, it might also help you launch future projects. – You’re looking for a strategy.
If that’s not what you’re thinking, you should be. Shooting any important project without a well thought out strategy is a huge mistake.
Every important film & video project should be seen as a “Stepping Stone Project.”
It should be designed to help you step up to the next level and arrive at the door to new opportunity.
When you approach a new project strategically and get clear about what skill level you’re presently operating at, what resources you presently have and what strategic purpose this project is designed to accomplish, everything other subsequent decision becomes easier because every move you make has a specific purpose.
When every project is designed as a stepping stone your efforts will have leverage and will help you move closer to your ultimate goals. That’s why it called a Stepping Stone Project.
This strategy works for both new and veteran filmmakers.
The fact that you’re here, looking at this page makes you unique. It separates you from the “passive-dreamer” and moves you into the “active-doer” club. And, as long as you stay an active-doer, you’re going to reap rewards of some kind. If just half of your moves work out positively, you’ll be moving in the right direction.
People who keep moving along a structured path will eventually arrive at their destination. Which is why my first objective is to get you to work from a proven plan. My second objective is to get you to stretch and take measured risks beyond your comfort / knowledge zone.
I’m going to encourage you to stretch by twenty percent.
I’ll also show you how when this is a calculated, well planned project-stretch it can have amazing results.
If we want to grow, and we must if we’re going to reach our goals, our projects must be designed to make us stretch into the “sweet-spot.” The sweet-spot is located approximately twenty percent beyond what you presently have the skills and resources to do.
Stretch beyond that, say by fifty percent and a major portion of our decisions will result in mistakes. You and your team will be spending to much time in uncharted territory. The stretch is to far.
Most projects can absorb a small number of mistakes, but as a collective, numerous mistakes will negatively influence the quality and future growth of your career.
On the other hand, if you’re operating one hundred percent within your comfort / knowledge zone, you’re likely making very few mistakes. While that might be comfortable, it’s deadly!
People who’ve become competent at a job or a way of doing things fall into this area.
It’s deadly because you’re not stretching, you’re not growing.
Studies have been done that show that both project success and maximum personal growth happens when we stretch out of your own personal comfort / knowledge zone by twenty percent.
Real growth happens when strategize early, do the proper preparation and surround yourself with people who have skills and knowledge you don’t. It only makes sense – right?
The effect is exponential because now “the stretch”is outside of “the groups” collective comfort/ knowledge zone, not just your own.
It makes a big difference!
A project set up properly can achieve truly amazing results. When this is done consistently, even small projects become stepping-stone projects that form important bridges along the road to the bigger rewards.
WARNING – The Project Must Come Before The Ego!
The needs of a stepping stone project must always come before the needs of any other individual including the director. All decisions must be based on what’s best for the project.
This is one of the common places unseasoned directors fail. They think they’re putting the project first, but when they are in too far over their head they become protective and rigid. This is the sign of an insecure director that’s letting the ego take control.
* Note – This page deals with project consulting, if you’d like information about career coaching please check out this page. Film and Video Production Career Coaching
The Question to Ask Before Every Project.
“How can I leverage my efforts, financing and existing resources in a way that reduces risk, maximizes my energy and fulfills the project’s goal objectives?”
This is the question every seasoned filmmaker and successful entrepreneur asks before starting any new endeavor. I mention entrepreneur because it’s important to think of your project as a “start-up” and yourself as an entrepreneur with limited resources and financing to work with.
When you see your film from this perspective it becomes clear that your responsibility is to deliver a product that satisfies your audience large or small. This is key to your film’s success and your long term survival.
Make no mistake. You’re in the movie making business.
A smart entrepreneur realizes that bringing a product to market is a process with many steps and each of these steps involves some level of risk. It goes with the territory.
So, the smart entrepreneur does every thing possible to eliminate as much risk as he can. He knows that the more he can learn about each step of his manufacturing, marketing and distribution process the less likely he will be caught off guard. He knows that knowledge affords him the opportunity to leverage a good product into a sale or an opportunity.
Like manufacturing, filmmaking is also a process with multiple steps. Like the entrepreneur, filmmakers must use knowledge to reduce production risks in or before pre-production stage of the process. This can only be done once each and every step, as well as the tasks within the steps have been identified.
Unseen steps, left unattended will later return as production problems – guaranteed!
When a novice filmmaker attempts a project above his present skill level or outside his knowledge zone, the risk of failure is extremely high. The risk is high because the novice has multiple gaps in his knowledge of the process – risk resides within the gaps.
The biggest source of risk for every start-up is hidden in the unknown, unseen steps that live within the process.
How Consultants Eliminate Risk
The role of the consultant is to bridge the gaps:
- Make the unseen steps seen.
- Define all tasks associated with the previously unseen steps.
- Empower the filmmaker with “best practices” to be used in pre-production, production and post production.
- Highlight value and strategize opportunities to leverage the resources that already exist.
- Point out the resource gaps and strategize a recruitment plan for needed resources.
- Eliminate as much risk as possible – before it becomes a problem.
The tricky part is, some gaps are known to the filmmaker and some are not.
To better appreciate this, let’s look at the three boxes of knowledge. Here’s an illustration.
Box 1 = What you know.
– I know what I need to do and I’m confident in my execution approach. If I have a problem along the way I know how to go about analyzing and fixing it.
Box 2 = What you know you don’t know.
– I don’t know with certainty what I’m going to do, but I know enough about the process that I can find the knowledge and discern helpful from bogus information.
Box 3 = What you don’t know.
– I’m not even aware that there is more information I need, much less what that information is. I typically learn about this only after I am confronted by it as a problem that needs to be fixed.
The obvious risks reside in the “What I don’t know, I don’t know” box.
So, the first job of the consultant is to transform material from Box 2 into Box 1. That’s the empowering part of the process I was talking about earlier.
Once the filmmaker becomes aware of something that must be addressed they’re empowered. The “unknown” becomes a task that needs to be “cared for,” before it becomes a problem.
The bigger the project, the bigger the “what you don’t know you don’t know box is. Helping a filmmaker see the steps that exist in Box 3 can be a very rewarding process.
Box 4 = What you thought you knew.
– I thought I knew with how this part of the process works, but later found out I was wrong.
Some of the most deadly risks reside here.
They’re deadly because these mistakes often find their way into the final process or even the product. The over confident filmmaker learns about this so late in the process that it’s ignored or fixed at an extremely high cost.
Transforming Box 4 into Box 1 can be the most important and most difficult part of the consultants job.
I’ve probably produced, directed and shot over a thousand projects, so I’ve got a ton of experience with project breakdown.
Most of what’s in the “What you don’t know you don’t know” box, I’ve encountered numerous times. Some, I’ve overcome with the advice of mentors. Other’s, I’ve learned about in books and still others, I unfortunately learned about only after they became a problem. Those I usually addressed early in the next project.
This stuff isn’t rocket science, but it does take study. And if you want faster results it takes guidance.
I offer guidance. I offer guidance in numerous forms and at affordable rates. If you’d like to find out what these are please click one the “Work with Me” page.
A little advice in the early stages can go a long way to ensure a project’s success.
Good luck with whatever path you decide pursue.