I am glad I didn't go to film school. If I had I might have thought twice about choosing a career in the creative industries. It is an exciting prospect, but one that can backfire if you don't apply a few basic and simple tools to your profile.
The minute you tell your friends and family you've decided to become a filmmaker, eyes will roll and whispers will fly around behind your back. I found when I started Raindance a lot of people spoke openly about how I would surely fail.
And nearly fail I did! What I learned, however, were a few simple things to make yourself look better and bigger and stronger. Nothing feeds success like success. Sometimes you need to feed the illusion at the beginning to keep the illusion that you are talented and deserving alive.
Follow this handy checklist and you should be looking like the success you know you are in less than a week with a total outlay, of maybe £100.00 ($150.00)
First: Get A URL
You've got to make GoDaddy your friend. They register URLs. You want and need emails and a website with your name. I have Raindance.org, and everyone's emails are firstname.lastname@example.org. Makes Raindance sound kind of big, right?
Assuming you have a relatively uncommon name, ie: You are Bob Gaga and NOT Lady Gaga, you should be able to get yourname.com for $10 - $$20.00 (£6 - £15.00).
Once you have the name, wander over to Memset or another hosting service and grab yourself a hosting package that gives you 5 - 10 email addresses.
Make the following email addresses:
Then add in emails for each of your collaborators.
Before you know it, those whispering and doubting Thomas' will think you have a mini studio on the go with all the emails of employees set up!
When I started Raindance there wasn't any web until 1995. I set up email@example.com and a host of other emails. That firstname.lastname@example.org remeains my private email address to this day.
Then go to WordPress, choose a theme and start your website.
Second: Get a landline
If you want to destroy the wannabe image immediately - get a landline. Nothing promotes the loser image more than your mum answering the telephone, or just having a cell contact number.
In America, we love Grasshopper: It makes any roaming cell phone look like it’s connected to a big fancy phone system. A few bucks a month and it looks like you have a reception area full of assistants making and processing the many calls your now successful career needs.
Third: Get a business address
You can make it from the second bedroom at home, but the minute a competitor or potential collaborator googles you, you will have that 'amateur' halo hanging around your head like a noose. Besides, it just makes you think better about yourself and your career if you need to get out of bed, scratch your body and go to work - even if it's traveling to the garden shed at the foot of the garden.
How do you get a commercial address when you are broke?
I blagged a free desk space with a mate in exchange for answering his telephone when I started out. Or, get a few mates together, rent a warehouse space, each of you pay a slice of the rent and telephone. That's what we are doing with our new offices in Paris and Berlin. Be creative. Surely there is someone out there who will help you out.
Fourth: Get a business card
Dress up your networking with a stack of 250 professional looking cards for less than £30.00 from flyeralarm.com, like we use, or from the new print and ship service from Fedex. Your new cards will have your email, your landline, your business address as well as your brand new website. Now you are ready to travel!
Fifth: The Tyranny of the hotel lobby
First impressions are worth millions.
No longer will you be meeting important career prospects at Starbucks. someone of your calibre will only meet in hotel lobbies. Chances are the coffee in not only better, but for literally pennies more it will be served in real china cups as well.
Sixth: Get a car service
Excuse me - a car service when you can hardly afford public transit?
Once your "assistant" has set up your meeting, here's a nifty little tip: Use Greentomato.com. They have an app so you can order a car, and they send a SMS when the car arrives. Plan this carefully so a car can arrive and whisk you away to your next meeting at a moment's notice. And it's a lot cheaper than a regular cab.
In the States use uber.com. You may be the next cult director, but you are too busy or important to take public transport.
Obviously, those who know me, know I have my tongue in my cheek,
Seventh: Become an expert
The big trick to success is to become an expert. That's why I wrote three books - books that proved I knew what I was talking about.
It's even easier in today's world. Free PR sites like HARO and Muckrack allow journalists to post questions about stories they are writing. Get on these journalists radar and they will soon be asking you for your advice and quoting you in their articles all over the world.
Get the link for the article and get your 'assistant' to email you the story the next time you are in a lobby meeting at that swanky hotel, flash it to your coffee mate, drop a business card on the ledge and leap to the car that's waiting to take you to the next meeting.
It doesn't take much for people to think you are successful! And none of these tips are taught at film school!