Inside the Producer’s Corner with Suzanne Lyons
This is a series of articles that film producer and best-selling author Suzanne Lyons (listen to her interview here) will be writing over the next 6 months. I personally asked Suzanne to share her knowledge, experience, and motivation with you the IFH Tribe. Whether you are a director, producer, cinematographer, screenwriter or editor I think you’ll get a ton out of this series. Check back every week for a new post that will help you on your journey as an indie filmmaker.
10 Tips on Staying Focused & Inspired in This Crazy Business (Part 2)
A few years ago I had the privilege to be at events where Lisa Nichols and Dame Helen Mirren spoke. These women have raised the bar for all of us. To me Lisa Nicols is the Queen of Inspiration. I don’t think I took a breath during the entire hour. She has the ability to enroll you into truly believing that you can be, do and have anything and everything. During her speech at the Women’s International Network (WIN) event, Lisa said that she was there to remind us of our brilliance… to remind us of our magnificence… to remind us of our innate power and ability to fulfill our dreams.
At Brit Week hearing Dame Helen Mirren interviewed was like being in the presence of a living breathing depiction of the words elegance and grace. Both women were beyond inspiring. In keeping with this article’s theme of “focus” I feel that both women’s lives and careers are perfect examples of the importance of staying focused and inspired.
As in my last article, I will be offering tips to help you stay focused and inspired and as before, since there is no cut and dried, black or white way to address this topic, I have mixed the tangible with the intangible.
1) CREATE YOUR FUTURE NOW!
Author of the “The Attractor Factor,” Joe Vitale recommends a great exercise in his coaching program which I did a few years back. It’s called “The Game”. You write out one of your goals, then write down why you are playing that game (why you chose that goal), and then write the story about it as if it has already happened. “The Game” is a bit more detailed but this is the basic idea. One of my goals is to raise funds to produce my animated Christmas feature.
Why am I doing that? I want to produce a quality film that will continue to sell year after year bringing joy to millions of families and getting me the international recognition that will allow me to produce more family films. Next, I write out my story which would be that I am already sitting with the director and animation designer collaborating about the characters and having a blast creating this delightful film. In other words, I am writing the story as if it’s happened… I’ve already raised the money! It is a powerful exercise as it makes it ‘real,’ helps you focus and gets you excited and inspired about your goals. I now make a habit of doing this exercise at least once a week. Give it a try… you’ll be amazed.
2) THE POWER OF AFFIRMATIONS & MEDITATION
I was always a bit cynical about these somewhat abstract concepts. But since I started using them on a regular basis the impact on my personal and professional life has been unbelievable. If I am going to have my goals realized and fulfill on my dream (and I dream big!) then I need to grow and expand. Like Shameless Self Promotion Coach Debbie Allen says
“personal development is the single most important thing you can do to improve your business.”
If I am going to have breakthroughs and master the ability to stay focused on my goals I need new tools. What I’ve been doing has been great… it’s got me to where I am, but it’s not sufficient to take me to where I want to go. Affirmations help reprogram the brain. It is like rewiring, replacing your old beliefs with new empowering ones.
Write down 3 affirmations right now that empower you. Google affirmations online to get more acquainted with this amazing tool. While you are online check out some sites and apps for meditation. It’s time to start this exercise as well. If you’re saying you don’t have time, you will find online meditations that are 10, 5 and even 2 minutes!
Meditation will help you get centered, focused and inspired and save you 100s of hours in the long run. When I produced two movies back to back in late 2014 and 2015 (more than a little stressful) I listened to 100 interviews (an hour each) from the Hay House World Summit of 2013 on the long drives to and from our film locations.
The folks interviewed were the top inspirational leaders, doctors, scientist, etc. in the world. At the end of each interview when the host asked his guests for their final words of wisdom, nearly 100% of the 100 speakers said the same thing… “Do a daily mediation.”
3) WRITE YOUR MISSION STATEMENT
I suggest that you write one for you personally and one for your company. Debbie Allen, in her article on Mission Statements, suggests that you “reflect on where you are and how you desire to invest your life in the context of work, family, friends and your community. It is important to address all these areas of your life and to balance each.
True success comes only when you have a balanced lifestyle.” In the Entertainment Industry, whether you are an actress, director, costume designer, or camera operator, you are the president and CEO of your business. It’s time to do a Mission Statement.
I suggest that you read other Mission Statements to get some ideas as to how they are written. I am writing one at the moment with a new business partner and to help put us in the right mind frame to write the Mission Statement, we wrote down our top 10 goals for our business. It worked great.
4) CREATE AN EXISTENCE SYSTEM
I’m a big fan of this tool. I am so busy raising money, producing films, writing articles, doing private career coaching and film producing workshops, developing screenplays, reading scripts, doing speaking engagements and handling a ton of the usual day to day details, that if I didn’t have an existence system in place I would go crazy! We are all busy these days, so give yourself a break and get visually organized. It may be the best thing you can do to keep you focused and on track.
In the last article, I talked about creating a Vision Board. That is a big part of the existence system. Now you can add your Affirmations to your Board. Another suggestion is a day-timer. I have the one that is a week at a glance. Before I leave the office, I write down my ‘to do’ list for the next day. I learned this technique in a ‘time management’ workshop years ago and it is fantastic at reducing stress!
You will sleep better at night because you have already sorted out and planned the next day. I also number my list in order of priority. Creating this visual existence system will help you stay focused.
5) RESTORE YOUR FOCUS
This is one of my favorite exercises. It really fits here because this exercise will not only restore your focus, it will inspire you like no other exercise I know. Take each one of your goals and write out what would be possible in your life when you achieve them. Do the exercise for each of your goals. For example, if you were to get that acting job you just auditioned for,
“What would that make possible that is not now possible?”
Then, when you answer that question, write out
“What would that make possible that is not now possible.”
When you answer that question, write out “What would that make possible that is not now possible,” etc. Do it at least eight to ten times for each goal. Most of the time we are focused on the urgency and necessity of our “to do list” and yet without spending time really looking at the possibility of our goals, the “to do list” becomes a chore.
And then the actions we take are no longer fun and exciting. In fact, the actions often start to feel like a struggle instead of a pleasure. That is why we lose focus and become uninspired. This exercise will restore you to possibility which restores you to your focus. It’s like standing in the bigger picture of your life and from there you will be inspired to take action and any action you take will have the results you want and it will be effortless and fun.
6) TAKE A LESSON FROM YOUR GPS
Have you ever noticed that the GPS in your car has never once asked you where you’ve been? It only wants to know where you’re going. That’s all it is focused on… where are you going? Take a lesson from your GPS. Don’t keep telling the story of where you’ve been or where you are. Look at where you want to be and plot that course, tell that story. That’s the ride you want to take!
7) REPAVE – DON’T REPLAY
This one is not easy for most of us, but if you make a habit of doing this technique, you will reduce your stress level to almost zero! Less stress means less anxiety which means more fun, freedom, and joy. I had a client recently who was intent on telling me the saga of her terrible meeting in great detail. She said she was made to feel wrong, inadequate and insignificant.
She had been dwelling in this conversation until her blood pressure had gone up to 140 over 85! She called me for coaching and within 15 minutes her blood pressure dropped to 120 over 75! All I did was have her tell me about the meeting but with a whole new spin on it. Instead of replaying it, she completely repaved it. She told a new story about the same meeting but in a way that she was left empowered.
As it turned out a couple of things that were said in the meeting triggered in her an incident that went back 40 years, and that was what she was reacting to. When I look back on any event that did not go well, I look to see what I can learn from it and then I repave it to have it go the way I planned.
8) CONSCIOUS CREATION
As Michael Bernard Beckwith said when he was featured on Oprah, “Energy flows where attention goes.” Okay, folks, read that quote again. Good. Now memorize it and train yourself to become an expert in consciously creating your life. Now, that may actually take some real thinking. Not just the day to day unconscious habit of having thoughts.
If you really want to stay focused on your goals, desires, and dreams, then you have to get this technique in every molecule of your body… every fiber of your being. YOU are in charge, what you think about you bring about.
You get to decide the way it goes. You are the one causing your magnificent life to unfold. Put your attention on the goals you are committed to achieving, focus upon them and watch miracles happen (I’m not kidding!). The inspiration that you will feel as a result will be contagious and the ripple effect will impact the lives of everyone around you.
9) GET A MENTOR
You have heard me talk about mentors before. I think it is so important to have mentors. And in this instance, to stay focused and inspired, it is critical! They have tons of great advice to share with you that will help you move in the right direction.
When you do make the request for a mentor please be very specific regarding the time and keep the time limited. For example, in the Flash Forward workshops, we suggested three 10-minute conversations (phone or in person) over a six-week period. Or you can invite your mentor to a half hour coffee meeting. Make it easy for them to say yes.
10) CREATE AN ACCOUNTABILITY PARTNER OR SUPPORT TEAM & HIRE A COACH
Have an accountability partner or a team that you check in with once a week or even once a day for five minutes. For years I met with a group of five other colleagues. We met every Tuesday morning. There are times that I have an accountability partner where we talk daily for just a few minutes. During the years of meetings with the team, in addition to our Tuesday meeting, we checked in every Friday by email stating what we had accomplished so far that week, and what action plans were in place for the days following.
I can’t imagine doing it on my own. I need to be held accountable… we all do. It will help keep you focused and on target. I also want to highlight the value of having a coach. Everyone who is up to something big has a coach! Look at all the sports figures in the Olympics. They all have a coach. And I think our industry is just as challenging as the Olympics!
So we deserve a coach. My coach, Barbara Daoust, is amazing and as professional and business-minded as I am, I still get off course and go down the rabbit hole from time to time. The minute I catch myself, I call Barbara and set up an appointment. Remember, a coach is not a mentor. They are not there to give you advice. They are there to keep you on course while pushing you outside your comfort zone. It’s focus and inspiration combined!
BONUS: Don’t forget to acknowledge yourself. Do it daily. You deserve it.
Above all, have fun. Don’t take actions until you’re having fun doing so. You want to be taking inspired actions, not knee-jerk reactions. And as I’ve said before, we all want to get there, but remember it’s not just about the getting there… it’s about the going there!
Suzanne Lyons is President/Producer of Snowfall Films, Inc. having produced/exec produced 12 feature films to date. She co-founded the Flash Forward Institute which focused on teaching the tools of business needed to market oneself in the entertainment industry. She recently launched a game-changing online course called Indie Film Producing Masterclass with Suzanne Lyons. She’s the author of Indie Film Producing: The Craft of Low Budget Filmmaking published by Focal Press. She has also hosted over 125 informational videos on the film industry. When time permits she does private career and business coaching. Suzanne is originally Canadian and lives with her husband in Los Angeles, CA.
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- Film Lighting MasterClass
- Recording Sound for Indie Film
- The Art of Micro-Budget Filmmaking
- Cinematography MasterClass
- Film Festival Hacks: Submit Like a Pro
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