“Raindance Makes Filmmakers” read the banner hoisted at the Raindance party at SET OnKing across from the Bell Lightbox during TIFF 2014.

It’s more than a slogan. It’s true.

In the twelve months since I met the Raindance organization, I’ve gone from wanting to work in the film business to being an active member of the community.

The great leap forward came this past March, during Raindance’s “Cracking Hollywood For The Indie Filmmaker” weekend workshop.

Leading the workshop, former Creative Artists Agency maven and current UCLA film teacher Joe Rosenberg, offered his wisdom: “Know who you are, and be who you are – because that’s what the movie industry is looking for.”

Raindance Creative Director Tiska Weidermann threw down the gauntlet. “So. Are you going to sign up for FAST TRACK?” I realized this was it. Did I have the stones to jump into the deep end and actually incubate my dream film project? By joining FAST TRACK, I could.

Before FAST TRACK, I was a newbie looking at the film and TV industry from the outside. Even though I came into the program with a world of experience in the media business, film and TV present entirely new challenges. Here’s what I learned.

10 Reasons Why Raindance FAST TRACK Made Me A Real Filmmaker:

1. THE KNOWN UNKNOWN

I found out what I didn’t know; who I didn’t know; and who and what I needed to know. Forget what you think you know about filmmaking. Open your mind and let those who have done it as a living, enlighten you. FAST TRACK provides a comprehensive menu of mentors from all aspects of the film and TV industry. And you get one-to-one time with them, that you can’t get anywhere else.

2. BENCH TEST

FAST TRACK showed me how to bench-test my concept with a variety of other filmmakers and industry pros. Is your ego easily bruised? Do you guard your ideas selfishly as if they were golden eggs? Forget it. Filmmaking is the ultimate acid test for a creator. FAST TRACK is a safe environment where you can put it all out there – before you try and pitch your idea to battle-hardened executives with a queue of other hopefuls breathing down your neck. Six months in FAST TRACK preps you for the real world.

3. RAISE YOUR GAME

You think your movie idea is the greatest thing since BIRTH OF A NATION. You think you’re a producer-director-writer-actor who is going to turn the planet inside out. You are going to find out just how wrong you are, and that’s the best thing that could happen to you. Everybody in the film and TV business is talented. Everyone is smart. And most of them are smarter and more talented than you are. Which is great. Because you’re going to be better than you have ever imagined by learning from them, in the cauldron that is FAST TRACK.

4. IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT BEING CREATIVE.

Face it. Nobody cares how creative you are. What they care about, is how committed and professional you are. Film is the most expensive art form there is, whether you are making movies on a microbudget or pitching a tentpole. Every second on the screen costs money. Are you ready to accept that fact? FAST TRACK helps you bridge the gap between your dreams of cinema greatness, and the complex process of building and marketing your movie property.

5. IT’S A PEOPLE BUSINESS.

Like it or not, who you are, and how you present yourself, will make all the difference in whether or not you succeed as a filmmaker. If people in the industry see you as personable and professional (there’s that word again), they’re much more inclined to collaborate with you. Everybody counts, from the lawyers and accountants to the intern who brings the coffee and donuts to the set. In FAST TRACK, you get the straight skinny from folks who’ve been there, done that, and keep doing it.

6. IT’S A TEAM SPORT.

See above.

7. FEEL THE FEAR, AND MAKE IT WORK FOR YOU.

You want them to love you. You want them to love your script. You want them to love your movie. And you’re scared shitless they won’t. That’s okay. Everybody feels the fear. No matter how successful you may become, the fear of failure hovers constantly over you. What makes you a filmmaker is your courage. Because every film is act of courage. In Fast Track, you find out what ‘film courage’ means.

8. ‘DA PROS KNOWS’.

See above.

9. ONLY YOU KNOW WHY YOU NEED TO MAKE THE FILM.

You can spend your life looking for ‘the magic formula’ that will open the gates to filmmaking paradise. You can follow the crowds of aspiring filmmakers who all believe that they’re one lucky break away from fame and fortune. But those in the know will tell you, it’s not about fame and fortune. It’s about the story you need to tell. The film you need to make. And you need it so bad you’re ready to do whatever it takes to get it made.

10. TELL THE STORY AND SELL THE STORY.

Hey, maybe it’s a popcorn movie. Maybe it’s an art movie. Maybe it’s a documentary that speaks to a tiny but fanatical group that’s just as nutty as you are. No matter who your audience might be, you need to tell them a story, and you need to sell them your story. Because your audience gives your film a reason to exist. Because you don’t want to be the only one who wants to see it. In FAST TRACK, you learn to tell and sell.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Going from concept to deal in six months, I can say without reservation that FAST TRACK gives you the tools to succeed. What you do with them, is up to you.

Find out more about Raindance’s Fast Track programme

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