Elliot Grove's Tips for Surviving 25 Years of Raindance

No one thought Raindance would survive when I plunged and took the leap, way back when Princess Diana was still alive. It was in fact on April 3rd and 4th 1992 that the very first Raindance event took place – the legendary 2-Day Film School with Dov Simens.

I didn’t have this list at the time. In fact I have just summed it up now – a quarter century after I started out. Surviving for 25 years was the furthest thing from my mind back then. It was survival, pure and simple. I was naive and flat broke. Surviving and to become a true master would put me into the Takumi class. If I ever pass that test I will be pleased.

10 Special Tips For Surviving 25 Years Of Raindance

1.Surviving means being confident

You have to constantly put yourself out there. I’ve always done that naturally, but to do it with confidence without coming across as an ego-maniac – and not offending people – that’s the knack I’m still learning.

2. Surviving means assessing the opportunity cost

The streets are literally paved with gold but opportunity always comes at a cost. I’ve needed to ask myself hard questions; was I willing to move cities? I moved to London from Toronto. Are there other aspects of your private life you’re willing to sacrifice? These are all really tough questions. You need to ask them and decide on your answers yourself.

3.Surviving means losing your pride

You’ve got to be willing to do every single job. Cleaning toilets, emptying the bins, running for coffee and carrying people’s luggage. There’s no substitute for experience and no better school than learning from the bottom up.

4.Surround yourself with like-minded people

It’s not always easy to find people you can trust who share your passion and commitment. When you do, treat them as a prized asset. I’ve been extremely lucky in meeting the deeply passionate committed people I have and luckier still that they’ve had the time of day to share and work with me.

5.It’s a people business

It’s all about relationships in the creative industries. Working on a creative project is so demanding you can’t afford to waste time with people you don’t know or trust. Neither will they work with you. It’s all about your personal branding – what people think of you. This is an area I wished I had spent more time.

Before I moved from Toronto I worked as a project development manager for a hi-tech company. We had the ‘photocopier rule’ we would apply before we hired anyone new:

It’s 3am. You are 6 hours past a deadline. All hell is breaking loose. You need to make a photocopy and the damned machine is broken. Would you like to be in this room with that person then? Yes? Hired. No? Fired.

6. Nothing about surviving is difficult.

It’s just plain bloody hard hard work. There’s nothing like hard work but you need to work with passion. Later on, it’s the bone-crunching work in the most difficult of situation you’ll remember and those are the very situations that will shape you.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

7. Surviving means committing

If you are going to do something, do it. Go for it. Otherwise you’re just wasting everyone’s time and your own time.

8. The ‘P’ word

I often ask filmmakers what they look for in crew, cast or financiers. They all say the ‘P’ word: Passion. You either have it or you don’t.

And passion means 110% effort 110% of the time.

 — That means 100% effort, 100% of the time.

9. Blaze your path

There’s no right way or wrong way into the industry. Oddly enough, ask two actors or two film editors their secrets of surviving and you will get a totally different answer for each. The trick is, I think, is that everyone has a job to do. You can learn lots by observing and offering a helpful hand when needed.

10. Quitters never win. Winners never quit

Surviving more than anything means stamina and perseverance.

Why are you reading this when you could be out making a film?



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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