I know writing. I have been doing it for a long time. I know how to get published in magazines, in newspapers, on websites. I’ve done that. And it was fairly easy to figure out. I know how to get a book published. I have written a couple and have a couple ideas for future books. Now, I have not actually published either book. But I spent a lot of time trying to get published and getting rejected. Of course, today, I would just self-publish. Unfortunately, at the time, self-publishing still carried a huge stigma. You know. It wasn’t “normal.” So I have no books selling on Amazon.
But making a movie?? A complete mystery. And a very expensive mystery.
Plus, old fashioned thinking was showing. I thought only of what I considered the normal way to make a movie: you pitch a project to a big studio exec, sell your script for a pittance, and later try to convince all of your friends that you really did write the screenplay for that movie, even if your name appears no where in the credits!
And I could not imagine how I would ever pull that off. Achieving that seemed insurmountable. But I kept writing and then started attending workshops, lectures, conferences, and networking events. I figured I would need to meet someone to help familiarize me with this foreign world.
Treading Outside Normal
That’s when I met Max. He was leading a workshop on creating a business plan put on by Screenwriters Network (it’s a great resource for those in LA). I knew that was something I was going to need to do, so I signed up.
One thing I have been working on (and I do mean one – there are, oh so many!) is to stop hesitating while I worry about whether or not I fit in. My goal is to jump at every opportunity. And I was faced with one of those opportunities at that workshop.
Max asked the group of about 30 of us to take one minute and pitch our script to him.
The old me would have decided that I was not prepared to do that and that I would make a fool of myself, so I would have listened quietly to everyone else, secretly measuring whether my pitch followed the standard being set by the room.
Not the new me – I shot my hand up. I was picked third to pitch my movie. I winged it, but I winged it with confidence (yeah, I need to perfect my elevator pitch). And he loved the idea. Unbelievable how taking a moment of action can instill such encouragement. I felt powerful.
Then I was shocked because out of the entire group, only a handful stood up. Max kept trying to get more people to participate, but most refused his imploring. I just kept reminding myself that I need to take advantage of every opportunity that presents itself to meet people, to seek feedback, and to make a mark – get noticed. And you can’t get noticed if you are typical.
I stayed afterwards and exchanged information with Max, and suddenly, I was heading to Marina del Rey for a meeting, script in hand.
We hit it off immediately. And there I was, pitching my movie to a group sitting around a table in a conference room. I don’t even know how this happened.
So then Max told me more about what he does. He has a group of investors that he works with, and he brings them potential projects to fund. He wanted to take mine.
Ok. Hold on one minute. What?!?!
Oh No! This Isn’t Normal!
Yep, the old me kicked into gear, and the walls shot up all around me, protecting me from the unknown. It was then that I turned into the most annoying green apple the world has seen.
Some of my friends know what I mean when I use the term “green apple.” But not everyone does. So let me explain. As my good friend and mentor says, when you ask a green apple to go to the movies, the response goes something like this: “What movie are we going to see? What theater? Where will we sit? What time? Are we going with anyone else? Are we going to get popcorn? Have dinner before? Or will we have dinner after? Who is driving? Are you driving? Will you pick me up?”
By the end of the conversation, you are exhausted. A green apple has a million questions.
Well, I had two million. At one point, the three of them just stared at me. I could hear how ridiculous I sounded, but for the life of me, I could not stop with the barrage of questions. Truthfully, I do not even know what I was trying to find out or what answers would satisfy me. It felt like I was asking questions just for the sake of asking questions. I kept thinking, “Somebody stop me! Please!”
But there was no one there to stop me. I think my main concern was “Is this normal?” It it normal to meet someone at a workshop who likes your idea and wants to show it to some investors? Is it normal that investors might want to invest in a movie? Is it normal that if they did get involved that I might have the opportunity to be a producer? Is it normal that someone might like my idea before I have a completely polished script? Is it normal that someone I don’t know might actually have my best interests at heart?
Yeah, those questions reveal a little too much about me. A bit more than makes me comfortable (Why am I so concerned about what is “normal”?? Stop that!).
The Possibilities Outside Normal
You will be glad to know that I ended up taking a leap of faith and told him to take my project to his investors. And I am so glad I did.
I paid him to put together a business plan, complete with drawings of the animated characters, character sketches, a line budget, a marketing plan, an audience analysis, etc. Of course, I was worried about whether to give him money for that. I don’t know why. I could not have done that myself. Of course I would have to hire someone. In fact, I had tried to find artists to sketch out my characters for over a year, with no luck. I figured it would be worth the money just for that alone!
But it was also worth going through the process of putting together a business plan so that I could understand exactly what it entails in case I want to do one myself in the future.
Once we finished the plan, he took it to his investors, who received it very positively. They have a couple of changes they want me to make (more on that later), and then they will take another look. What more could I ask for?!
Probably the most important realization that came out of meeting Max and my subsequent research is that there is no “normal” way to get a movie made. In fact, there are infinite ways that movies get made. I don’t need to find the most common or even the best way. I just need to get it made!