Donald Trump's 6 Brave Lessons Filmmakers Can Learn From

Donald Trump is not my favourite person: His physique, his manner, his views and opinions are the anathema to everything I stand for.

But Donald Trump has become an icon – a phenomenon that is sweeping America. In the process, he’s changed the political landscape leaving just about everyone scratching their heads in amazement. From my vantage point in Europe, he started his presidential campaign like an idiot but has now negotiated a position where middle America from both sides of the Republican/Democratic bench are flocking to his beat to the point now where there is a real possibility that his demented campaign could well propel him into the White House.

The curious thing is that his techniques provide some interesting lessons that we as filmmakers can use.

Donald Trump’s 6 Brave Lessons

1. Be a master of Social Media

There isn’t a single filmmaker or distributor in the world who would deny the fact that social media has become a major tool to be used to get your film (and career) out there. The problem we as filmmakers face is that buying media advertising space has become breathtakingly expensive.

Donald Trump is spending far less on media than his competitors. How does he manage this?

By tweeting regularly – and often controversially. Like him or not, his Twitter feed is amusing. You can follow him here.

2. He’s a minimalist

Donal Trump’s background in sales has taught very simple and direct language even when presenting a negative message. His language skills enable him to convince almost any idea as a positive.

This video picks apart his language in a discussion with Jimmy Kimmel, and mathematically analyses his speech patterns and shows how he accomplishes the impossible. A great tool filmmakers should employ when pitching their projects to investors and journalists.

3. He isn’t afraid to stick 2 fingers up to the establishment

Donald Trump has made a virtue of being the outsider which allows him to enhance his image as an underdog. He has made a virtue of the fact that he has had to fund his own campaign. Does this remind you of the earliest films by film industry underdogs like Spike Lee and Quentin Tarantino? Trump even makes a direct reference to Jackie Brown.

Watch this video and learn from the ‘master’.

4. PR Stunt

Donald Trump isn’t afraid of using a PR stunt – even if everyone tells him he’s made a mistake. Take this week’s decision to pull out of the FOX News debate. Think about it: New York-based FOX News is the staunch Republican news channel. When I’m at our NYC Hub I am aghast at the attitude of FOX News. Yet Donald Trump pulled out of their debate because he didn’t like the attitude of Megyn Kelly their presenter and co-moderator who asked him really tough questions in the previous debate.

Everyone accused him of being chicken-little. Yet he managed on 24 hours notice to pull off a rival event in the same city at the same time. He’s now in support of the American military vets. He out-gunned and out PR’d his rivals. Wow. Can you as filmmaker top that?

5. He hammers home the point

Donald Trump, like independent filmmakers, knows the power of repetition. As a filmmaker how often to you have to repeat your message to get investors, to get cast and crew and/or get into distribution.

Watch Donald Trump hammering home a point in this video.

6. Style auteur

Donald Trump has managed to create an iconic physical image: his hair, his speech, his style. What filmmaker wouldn’t want to be known simply by their look and the sound of their voice?

Fade Out

There you have it! Follow the most bizarre political character ever in American history. An icon becoming as powerful as the last great master of social media: the 20th Century European politician who seized Europe in the 1930’s. Trump has an equal oratory power and the ability to sway large swathes of public opinion. Like his German forbear, Donald Trump is also racist and fiercely anti-establishment.  See how Trump has created a feeding frenzy and see if you can learn from his powerful technique and get more people to follow your film and your career.

I’m now going back to google to see what this man comes up with next.

The British cult comedian Peter Serafinowicz has recently used Trump as a muse!



Photo Credit David Martinez / BIFA 2018

Few people know more filmmakers and screenwriters than Elliot Grove. Elliot is the founder of Raindance Film Festival (1993) and the British Independent Film Awards (1998). He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), AMBER (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018) and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance BREXiT trailer 2019

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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