Create and make your own way! It’s what we all hear as the solution to doing work we care about as actors. So let’s say you have the perfect story to tell, you’ve written the script to get the right draft, and you even have a few dollars to put towards the project. But let’s be honest, when you look at what you actually need vs. the small amount you saved from your side job or the 10 percent you put away from that surprise residual check, it is not enough.
Don’t fret! You can make your project and put your story out into the world. As someone who has created award-winning films, garnered distribution deals, screened my projects internationally, and have films on TV and Netflix, I have some advice for you.
Give yourself a deadline.
Not a maybe deadline or a possible deadline but a deadline that you will not change or alter. I know this sounds simple, but I’ve coached many content creators who have projects they’ve wanted to shoot for years but never did—because their deadline was a soft one. They continued shifting and extending their deadlines and two years later they still haven’t shot it.
With that begin said, pick a realistic deadline. Give yourself the adequate time you need to get things done, but pick a date. It can be six or eight months out but select a date and get it done. I encourage you not to make your date longer than 10-12 months away. (I promise you can prep and shoot your film within that time). What you will discover when you have a hard deadline is that you find a way to get what you need and you push yourself even harder to make your project a go. If you’re reading this right now and you know you need to set a deadline for that project you’ve been wanting to shoot for the last year or two, go ahead and pick a deadline right now.
Write your wish list.
What camera do you want to shoot with, what actors, crew, locations etc. I know money is always the driving force of how you will get your project complete but it’s important to remember why you wanted to share this story in the first place. Don’t let money steer you away from your passion, your creativity. Write that wish list and start making plans or seeing who you may know that may be able to help you accomplish those things. No, you may not get everything on your wish list—it is indie filmmaking, afterall—but it’s very likely you will get some of them. Sometimes the reason you don’t have them yet is because you haven’t asked.
Use all of your resources.
Not just the ones in the entertainment industry. You never know who knows somebody who knows somebody who can offer assistance on your project. Reach out to your friends and family; you may be surprised to learn you can secure locations, catering, etc. from people who have connections or resources. I would even venture to say that reaching out to your contacts who aren’t in the entertainment industry may be an even bigger benefit. When I was shooting my HBO-nominated short film, I needed a doctor’s office. By reaching out to my resources, I found out that a friend of mine had a connection with a health and wellness facility and I was able to shoot for free at their location.
Make an announcement.
It’s important to let everyone know what you’re doing. I encourage my clients to make an announcement on social media and create an email you can send out to let people know about your latest project. It’s important to put what you’re working on out there and let people know what you’re up too. It will keep you accountable because it’s out in the world and people will be asking you for updates. It’s also a good time to make good on all those messages you get from others who say, “let me know if I can ever help you,” or “if you ever need anything.” This is the time to cash in on. I find that if you make it known what you’re working on, people who support you and those who may be watching from afar want to help.
Every time I have a new project, I use these steps. And I get each and every one done while continuing to create. Your voice needs to be heard; tell your stories. Stop sitting on your great script ideas and letting obstacles get in the way. Get out there and get it done!
*This post was originally published on April 20, 2018. It has since been updated.
Keena Ferguson, a multi-artist, is known for her bright warm smile, strong presence, and agility as an actress.
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