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I woke up this morning in my Lockdown fuzzy brain, and immediately had a news-flash from the universe! What if we thought of our filmmaking ambitions as a business. Why not think of our career as a filmmaking enterprise?

noun: enterprise; plural noun: enterprises

a project or undertaking, especially a bold or complex one.

  • Context

    initiative and resourcefulness.
    “success came quickly, thanks to a mixture of talent, enterprise, and luck”
  • Related keywords:
    endeavour, venture, pursuit, exercise, activity, operation, exploit, mission, deed, act, action move, measure, task, business, proceeding, scheme, plan, plan of action, programme, campaign, project, proposal, proposition, suggestion, idea, conception

    – Definition from Google Search

Launching your film enterprise has absolutely nothing to do with one’s chronological age. One of our MA students was aged 74. Another of our HND students is mid-fifties and a dentist.

Launching your career has nothing to do with previous training. Another MA student, Sadie Frost, flunked out of high school. Through hard work and with her life experience transitioned into a successful film producer with a slew of credits under her belt.

Gina Lazarowich produced her debut film, Krow’s TRANSformation at 54.

a) Infancy

Do you remember the first time you decided that you wanted to be a filmmaker or screenwriter? Do you remember the first time you told a close friend that filmmaking was the only thing you wanted to do?

In your career’s infancy it is unlikely you were aware of the commercial as well as the creative aspects. It’s highly possible that you knocked on film industry doors and were shunned or spurned.

Many fall at this first level and give up.

A few, perhaps you, realise there is a whole lot more to your filmmaking enterprise. At this point you might well cross paths with a mentor, or have some success.

At this point you are convinced that somehow, sometime, a film career is attainable.

At this point you pass into the next stage.

 

b) Adolescence

Moving from infancy and childhood to adolescence in our own lives is a big moment. As our physical bodies develop so does our film enterprise.

adolescence noun 

Definition:

  • The period following the onset of puberty during which a young person develops from a child into an adult.

Context:

  • ‘The rush of hormones associated with adolescence is why teenagers commonly suffer.’
    ‘This only develops, with brain maturation, during childhood and adolescence.’
    ‘The legendary sensitivity of adolescence is a kind of self-absorption.’
    ‘during adolescence teenagers often experience violent mood swings’
    ‘Childhood and adolescence are essential periods of your life in which to learn the importance of physical activity.’
    ‘Puberty is the first phase of adolescence, the time when sexual maturity becomes evident.’

Oxford Dictionary

I have found three different types of ‘adolescents’ in my time at Raindance.

1. Going for broke

Some transition by going for broke. Filled with passion a debut filmmaker will head off in multiple directions trying tactic after tactic to get their filmmaking launched. These filmmakers will suffer disappointment. Usually, it is because they have failed to properly learn the craft. Teens don’t study, do they?

Often too, they are unwilling to accept constructive criticism.

It is seldom that a filmmaker succeeds by going for broke. People often mistake Quentin Tarantino as a successful example of this. Don’t overlook the hard graft Tarantino employed before Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction. By the time those films were made he had watched and studied countless films and read hundreds of scripts and honed his craft.

When I started Raindance in 1992 I went for broke. I crashed around. I didn’t take the time to learn the industry’s best practices. And I made so many embarrassing mistakes. I scheduled the first festival in 1993 like this: If a movie was 97 minutes long I started the next movie 5 minutes later. Not realising you needed half an hour at least to chance the reels and turn the cinema. Dah!

Most people going for broke close up shop and abandon their dreams. In my case, I then opted for struggle.

2. Struggle

Another adolescent filmmaker I frequently meet are those who have decided to endure misfortune and disappointment. They cling to the hope that they will eventually be discovered year after year.

I fall into this category. For the first ten years of Raindance Film Festival I believed that the secret to success was survival. I eeked out a paltry living surviving on side-hustles. I endured the barbs and arrows from those within and without the industry. I made decisions that came back to haunt me. And I very nearly packed up shop. MAny colleagues at this time burnt out and packed up shop.

Fortunately, I have a series of valuable mentors that taught me that I needed to reset.

3. Reset

Adolescents who reset stand the very best chance for success. They realise that this stage is the stage where they have to learn from those who have succeeded. They need to train themselves and develop the necessary skills, craft, and discipline required to properly launch a filmmaking enterprise.

It was after ten long years that I finally started to realise the blood, sweat, and beers that I had spilled out had taught me two lessons. Neither going for broke or struggle would work. I was in near danger of burning out and closing up shop.

I spent hours researching the industry. Although I had been going to major European film festivals now I went there to observe. Rather tearing around the Croisette in Cannes at breath-taking speed, I started to let people come to me.

I also started to expand my circle of influence by networking. And by accepting countless public speaking engagements. In 2004 I started to engage with social media as a way to promote our film school and festival.

I was also able to observe and study what worked and what didn’t. And the process helped me create the sort of bold, fresh and innovative ideas that Raindance and the British Independent Film Awards are known for.

And now, after three long decades of adolescence, I’m starting to realise that I have outgrown puberty and might, just might, be adult!

c) Maturity

Here is the sign of maturity in the creative industries. It’s when you can work on your own personal creative enterprise. And not in it.

For example, as a painter, you are free to decline commissions and focus entirely on your own work. As an author, no longer do you accept journalist commissions – you are able to focus full time on your own projects. And all without worrying about the landlord or your personal relationships.

A mature filmmaking enterprise is able to choose to work with the collaborators they like.

Why have I been able to do this? Because the main lesson I learned in my reset phase was this: My filmmaking enterprise would not succeed without a team. I have learned that the film school needs a hierarchy of education. It also needs a team and a reporting structure. So too the film festival. We now have an entire team of programmers, hospitality and event co-ordinators, a print traffic and technical team, a sponsorship and new business manager. Most importantly, I managed to get a producer, David Martinez with whom I now confide my darkest secrets and greatest fears. Without my team, I would be bounced back to adolescence.

Fade Out

I’m hoping that my morning enlightenment means something to you, at whatever stage you are. Please don’t think I am being negative. I’m not. The most important thing is to be able to reset, as I was able to do. I just hope your process has not been as painfully slow as mine has been.

And finally, in these troubed times. Remember Raindance is here to help.

I have a question about Raindance Film Training

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About 

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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