10 Tips to a Killer Sales Presentation
Years ago, my film partner and I decided to launch Windchill Films. A low budget genre division of Snowfall Films where we had done bigger budget films. Thriller/horror movies were doing fantastic box office back then so we chose our first project, “Candy Stripers.” It was early fall at the time, and we did the paperwork, opened the LLC, created a great business plan, set the production date for May 12th, and even opened a bank account. We were thrilled to get started.
Christmas came and went and the next thing I remember is looking at the calendar and screaming, “Oh my God! It’s March 1st!” Two months had gone by and we’d sold two units (shares in the film) and that was to each other! I called Kate and together we realized that the fear of getting out there and selling the units… raising the money and approaching potential investors was overwhelming. We had completely shut down and disappeared. In the past our projects had for the most part been co-productions where you work with a representative from an investment group, get government funding, tax incentives and do gap financing. <--read more-->
10 Tips to Help Attract Investors
When I was deciding on which article to write this time all I had to do was think back to the first question everyone asks anytime I’m on a panel or doing a speaking engagement in front of producers. “How do we fund our films?”
And the question doesn’t usually end there. It continued with “How do I raise money for my film in this economy?” Or “in the face of having to deal with unions on my ultra- low budget film?” Or “When I don’t have enough producing experience?” Or “What if the script I’ve optioned isn’t commercial enough?” My answer is always the same. The economy and the rest of those issues have nothing to do with it. If you buy into the doom and gloom of whatever conversation your telling yourself, you might as well go watch a movie, because you sure as heck aren’t going to make one. My business coach always said, “You take actions correlated to the way the world occurs for you”. So, if you think it’s impossible to raise money for your film… guess what actions you’re going to take. <--read more-->
Enhancing Your Communication Skills
I am super excited about this topic…. Communication. It doesn’t get any more important than this. Some of you reading this blog are in the entertainment industry so you are in the center of communication. It’s what we do. We bring our voice to the screen, the stage, the networks. We get to express ourselves publicly, globally. There are few people on the planet who get to do that. It’s a gift and it’s a big responsibility. My question to you is, how conscious are you of your own communication. It starts here, and it starts with you.
Are you aware of the fact that everything we do is a communication of sorts? Language is a small part of it. If you cross your arms during a conversation, you’re communicating. If you are sloppy in your written correspondence, you’re communicating. If you do a mediocre job, you’re communicating. If you hand your script in late, you’re communicating. It’s all communication. Be conscious. Really take notice this week as to how conscious and aware you are of all aspects of your communication. <--read more-->
Pitching Yourself and Your Projects
I’ve been on many panels on “Pitching” over the years, heard pitches in my office and heard tons of pitches at various PitchFest events. I am always amazed at how many pitches are unclear, confusing, too long and too generic.
I am not trying to be critical here… I know first-hand just how hard it is to pitch your projects and yourself. I’ve been on both sides of the table 100s of times. In fact, I use to love watching “Dragon’s Den” because it is fascinating to watch people pitch. I always learn so much.
As a film producer, I have been hearing pitches for years and I think what people don’t realize is the fact that they are pitching all the time. It starts when you walk in the room or get on the phone or the email. I’ve seen people at networking events, film markets, festivals, interviews and auditions and for the most part they are completely unconscious as to how they come across. They just don’t get it! You aren’t just pitching while you’re pitching… you’re pitching all the time! Your speaking, who you’re being, how you’re occurring… it’s all pitching! <--read more-->
Networking & Creating Relationships
With the American Film Market just around the corner, it’s time to master the Art of Networking! For Indie filmmakers it’s one of the most important weeks of the year. And the better you are at networking and creating relationships, the more successful you’ll be.
Early on in my producing career here in Los Angeles I would be at a party or event and all to often people would approach me and say “Suzanne, I hear you’re a film producer, I’m an actor, here’s my headshot”. Or, “hi, my friend told me you’re a producer, I’m a director, he’s my reel.” Or “here’s my screenplay”, “my composer CD”, etc. It drove me crazy! In every other business in the world we create relationships (or should!) first. Don’t just jump right into action… “please read my script”. Create a relationship, talk about the possibility of working together, the opportunity and the benefits that that could provide and then and only then make a request (take the action). <--read more-->
Staying Focused & Inspired in this Crazy Industry – Part 2
A few years ago I had the privilege to be at events where Lisa Nichols and Dame Helen Mirren spoke. These women have raised the bar for all of us. To me Lisa Nichols is the Queen of Inspiration. I don’t think I took a breath during the entire hour. She has the ability to enroll you into truly believing that you can be, do and have anything and everything. During her speech at the Women’s International Network (WIN) event, Lisa said that she was there to remind us of our brilliance… to remind us of our magnificence… to remind us of our innate power and ability to fulfill our dreams.
At Brit Week hearing Dame Helen Mirren interviewed was like being in the presence of a living breathing depiction of the words elegance and grace. Both women were beyond inspiring. In keeping with this article’s theme of “focus” I feel that both women’s lives and careers are perfect examples of the importance of staying focused and inspired. <--read more-->
Staying Focused & Inspired in this Crazy Industry – Part 1
Staying focused and inspired in our crazy industry is not easy. When my film partner and I were wanting to produce our first film, we couldn’t figure out why we keep feeling like we were spinning our wheels. We had developed 16 screenplays, created tons of relationships in the industry, sent out literally hundreds of scripts and had more meetings than I am sure anyone else in the film industry! Also, we had actually set up deals with major companies in Hollywood on some of the projects. Yet, nothing was happening! Nothing! We finally met with our coach and she said only a few words, but extremely important words…. FOCUS! PICK ONE, AND FOCUS! It may sound crazy but that had not even occurred to us.
The minute we picked one, our favorite romantic comedy called “Undertaking Betty,” all of a sudden, things started happening. Within a year we were on location in Wales producing the film! An indie film with A-list talent. The other amazing part of this story is that the moment we focused on what we really wanted to do, we became inspired. We got very excited about getting started and moving forward on the film. And the actions we took toward that end were fun and effortless.<--read more-->
10 Tips to Closing the Deal
I am very excited about this week’s article. How to close the deal is the topic and I think for all of us in this industry, and probably every industry, it’s one of the most difficult and uncomfortable things to do. It certainly takes us out of our comfort zone! In fact, just writing this article made me anxious since it got me thinking about my upcoming projects and the business details that need to be handled to actually close the deals.
At the same time writing it was valuable for me as a wake-up call because I clearly saw where and why I wasn’t closing the deal on certain projects. Many of us are great at creating some heat around ourselves and our projects from time to time, but how do we close the deal… how do we push it to that next stage? How do we get them to read our screenplay? Sign that option agreement? Watch our acting reel? Hire us as the director on that film or TV show? Commit to investing in our film?
In this “10 Tips” article, I’ll share with you some ideas that will support you with this extremely important issue.<--read more-->
HOW TO GET A MEETING
How do we get face time? I realize that online social media is a big part of our lives. I was watching CBS Sunday Morning a while back and the reporter talked to a husband and wife who said they actually text each other while in the same house. They said they seldom have face to face discussions anymore. Is that crazy or am I just old fashioned?
Our iPhone and iPad are our new best friend and the social network is here to stay. When I was checking out David Sayce’s website a while back I read his article about Twitter. He gave fascinating information on just how many times a day we’re online. He said that just one year ago “every second, on average, around 6,000 tweets are tweeted on Twitter, which corresponds to over 350,000 tweets sent per minute, 500 million tweets per day and around 200 billion tweets per year. I’m sure those number are even higher now. <--read more-->
HOW TO CREATE A MISSION STATEMENT
The time is always perfect for this week’s topic… “10 Tips to Creating Your Mission Statement”. For some reason we tend to avoid this aspect of our business. As I’ve mentioned in more than a few of my previous articles, you are a business. You are the president and CEO of your company even if you are a writer, an actor, a DP, a director, etc.
When I started doing the research for this article I asked an actress friend of mine about her mission statement and she said, “I never thought of myself as a business, so I didn’t think I needed one.” EVERYONE should have a mission statement. Business, personal, it doesn’t matter… it’s important. So that’s your job this week! And trust me, you’ll thank me when it’s over. <--read more-->