Lessons Learned from Running Indie Film Hustle
I wanted to put together this episode to share with the IFH Tribe the amazing lessons I’ve learned over the past year and a half running both IndieFilmHustle.com and the IFH Podcast. I wanted to show you how these lessons can be applied to your filmmaking or screenwriting journey.
When I started IFH I really had no end game. I knew I wanted to reach as many filmmakers and artists as I could but that was it. The key for me was just focusing on the day to day tasks and not the monstrous mountain I wanted to get to the top of. BTW, I’m nowhere near the top of that mountain, I’m still at the bottom at base camp =)
In this episode I go into the 5 Lessons I used every day in my creative, professional and personal life. These are:
- How to React and Adjust
I break down each lesson and go deep down the rabbit hole on how you can apply these to your filmmaking and creative life. Enjoy and keep on hustlin’
Alex Ferrari 0:53
So guys, today, I wanted to talk about some of the lessons I've learned on my journey running indie film, hustle, and how they can help you get a little closer to following and achieving your goals as a filmmaker.
You know, I'm in it, same as you guys are. I'm hustling out here. I'm trying to get my movies made. I'm trying to make a name for myself. And I'm hustling just like you guys are. And when I opened up indie film, hustle, now it's been I opened it in August, I think, July or August of 2015. So it's been a little bit over a year and a half now that I've had indie film, hustle. And I've been able to learn an immense amount of stuff that I would have never learned if not opening up indie film, hustle and running a podcast and, you know, running a very large blog, and large because I'm just insane, and I just can't stop posting content. But some of the, I put down four core lessons I learned and they're so valuable, these lessons that I've been able to learn over the course of the last year and a half. It's actually taken me 2020 odd years to learn this. And any film hustle is really proven to me that all of these things that I'm about to talk about really work, because I've been able to see the proof in the pudding as they say. So the very first thing I've learned in running a crazy blog, a crazy podcast that does to at least two, sometimes three episodes a week, and a full blown filmmaking blog that has multiple, multiple posts a day, sometimes, many a week, mostly doing them all myself. The one thing I have learned is consistency. Now, when I started the blog, I literally started with nothing. I had been out of the business for a long time. And I really had no, no following my social media was garbage. I didn't know any of that stuff. And I literally just launched and, and see to see what would happen. And slowly but surely, I started seeing the results of all my labor, the amount of work that I have to put in to, to this to indie film hustle is immense. It is it really is immense. It's a daily a day in day out kind of work workload that I've taken upon myself, but I do it with a lot of love. And I really enjoy doing what I do. But the consistency is something I really never thought about. And a great example of this is rocket jump the YouTube stars. They're they're amazing guys over on YouTube. They got like seven and a half million followers on YouTube. And I know the guys and those guys are awesome and what they do, but they were consistent. They were putting up videos back in 2005. Just short films and then they show people how they made those short films. And they just kept posting stuff up with no agenda. It just kept doing it to see what would happen. Because Don't forget in 2005 YouTube was just starting out. There wasn't any money to be made. There were no sponsorship. There were no YouTube stars. There was nothing like That they were doing it just out of the love of doing it. But they were consistent. And it took them years to build stuff up. But they were consistent week in, week out. And that's what I found that what that happened to me with indie film, hustle and also the podcast, I started off with one, not that impressive, then two, then three. I'm now on episode 142. You know, if you look at a lot of filmmaking podcasts out there, they don't get to this level, as far as the amount of episodes because it gets tiring, it is hard, it is not easy to continue this all the time. And try to maintain a level of quality that that you you strive for, it's not an easy thing to do. And that consistency has been able to build things up to all of a sudden, you look back and you're like, oh man, I've got 142 episodes, you know, I'm pushing 150. By the end of this year, I'll be way over 200 episodes of a filmmaking web of filmmaking podcast. So that consistency has been able to build and build and build. And because of that consistency, not only with the podcast, but the consistency with posting articles all the time, interacting on social media day in day out, slowly, but surely, you start seeing your audience and what you're trying to do start growing and growing, and growing because of that consistency. So with filmmaking, the same thing has to happen for you. If you're writing a screenplay, you write a page a day, can you just say I'm gonna write a page a day, can you just knock out 15 minutes, and write a page a day, doesn't matter if it's good or not, just write a page a day. And in 90 days, you'll have a screenplay. Now, you could also write two pages a day and cut that in half. And if you're really, really industrious, you can write three pages a day. And now you've got you'll have a full fledged screenplay in a month, whether it's good or not as irrelevant. The point is that you have created a screenplay and I guarantee you, you will have learned something from that experience. When shooting a movie. That's the exact same thing, shoot, write that screenplay or work on that script every day, work on that movie every day, if you're shooting on weekends, just keep going, keep making it, I guarantee you, eventually you will have that movie finished as long as you keep doing baby steps. One day at a time, when I made Meg, I just did it, I did it over the course of six weeks. And we did it in eight days in those courses that six weeks. And we just kind of just kept trucking along moving along, I have no end result that I'm looking for with Meg, I really am not. You know, whatever happens with it happens with it. I'm just kind of posting and running with it and see what happens. But the point is, if I would have thought about like, Oh my god, where's this movie going to go? Oh, my God, I need to sell it right away, I need to make a million bucks. It's you're done. But the consistency of creating every day something, doing something that moves you closer to your goal, actually creating content every day, whether that be on YouTube, or so on. It's very, very important. So lesson number one, con insistency. guys keep moving a little bit every day. And I guarantee you, at the end of the year, if you do what I'm telling you beginning of the year, at the end of the year, you'll have so much to show for and so much you've accomplished. And you'd be amazed. You you if you would if you do that three pages a day, you'll have 12 screenplays by the end of the year. I know it's crazy, but think about it. Now out of those 12 screenplays, maybe one of them will be good. Maybe one of them, you could take it to the next level. But just keep writing, keep shooting, keep learning. Okay. And that brings me to my second lesson is learning continue to grow your knowledge base in whatever you're trying to achieve. When I opened up and launched indie film, hustle, I did not know anything about internet marketing. I didn't know anything about podcasting. I didn't know anything about online courses. I didn't know anything about, you know, emails or email list or anything like that. I didn't know anything about anything. I taught myself I learned. And over the course of the last year I've been learning and continuing to learn as much as I can about what I'm doing with indie film, also with podcasts, how to make it bigger, how to make it better, how to grow all the time. Same thing with filmmaking. You have to constantly, constantly constantly learn, read books, take online courses, listen to seminars, go on YouTube, listen to podcasts. Listen to all of that and read as much as you can. But learn, continue to learn if you do this for six months, the amount of knowledge that you'll grow, the amount of knowledge that you will have inside of you to do what you're trying to achieve, will be amazing. A lot of filmmakers think that they go to film school, they graduate, and they're done. It doesn't even work that way. Guys, I hate to tell you that. All right, when I walked out of film school, pretty much 95% of everything I learned was obsolete because it was just in the turning of the digital revolution. They had just started digital editing, they had just started shooting on mini DV tape. For God's sakes. I never learned any of that in film school. So I had to relearn everything. I had to take an avid class and paid for an avid course. So I would learn avid, so I can start editing on avid because I didn't get taught that in film school because it wasn't around. It was literally a year difference. You know, I'm saying. So, constantly learn. And just because you're out of film school doesn't mean that you are done by any stretch of the imagination. Always keep learning. Another very valuable lesson I learned running indie film hustle is how to react and adjust. Now, when you post things on when I post things on indie film, hustle when I produce a podcast and put it out, I see how the audience, you guys the tribe react? I see how you guys either like it or don't like it? Is it downloaded? Is it not downloaded? What kind of comments Am I getting? and so on. So then I adjust what I'm doing to cater to what you guys want what you guys want to listen to what questions you need answered, because it's not all about me. It's about you guys. I'm here, serving you guys, and trying to present great content for you guys and help you on your journey. So a lot of times I thought something was going to be gangbusters. And it wasn't. And some things I thought sometimes I thought some some podcasts or articles were never gonna see the light of day and they blew the hell up and went viral. So I'm always learning to react and adjust. So how does that translate to filmmaking and screenwriting, let's say, when you write a screenplay, and you give it to people to read, how you react to their notes, and adjust, it's extremely important. You have to make sure you're getting the right notes from the right people that you respect. And that sound good to you. Same thing with filmmaking, you're always adjusting and reacting. So you shoot, go out and shoot a short film, you found out that the DP wasn't really doing their job, right? When you get into post, and you learn, you react to it, and you adjust you pivot. Huge, huge lesson because a lot of filmmakers and I know these guys will continue down the same path no matter how many times they make the mistake, no matter how many times people tell them or, or life shows them that they're wrong, they keep going down the same path. How many people out there listening right now knows a guy or a girl who's been writing a screenplay for six years. We all know those guys. And as many times as we tell them, you know, it's time to move on. Or how many people do you know how many people listening out there right now knows a filmmaker who's been on one short film or feature film for much longer than they should have been on, you know, they've been on a feature film to three years, not talking about documentaries, those are different. I'm talking about narrative feature film. There's many of them, and they just keep going down the same path. And they don't adjust, they don't react and they don't adjust, you need to be able to learn how to pivot and adjust as you go down this journey. Because if you only are going you set cruise control on your journey on your path. And you do not adjust when things on the road, get thrown in front of you, or move, you're going to continue to crash and keep going and keep crashing and not get anywhere, you'll just get stuck in a circle, as opposed to someone who's adjusting reacting to what is happening to you and adjust. So learn how to react and adjust to things that are thrown at you as a filmmaker, from critiques from technical issues, from learning curves, from how to work with actors, everything, sometimes you might make a full feature, and it bombs, you don't know how to sell it. You can't get it out there in the world. What happens, a lot of filmmakers just throw in the towel, what you should be doing is taking notes and making very detailed notes of what went wrong, how not to do it again, and move on to the next project. That's why I always say try to when you're starting out with your first features. Don't go out there with $300,000 because you better know what you're doing. Because they get back 300 grand you better know what you're doing. But if you waste two, three grand, five grand, even 10 grand, it's acceptable, it's doable, it's something that can get that you can absorb a hit. So the cheaper the better. Use the duplass brothers as an example, use Joe Schwartzberg, you know, just Weinberg. I mean, he's done 30 some 35 feature films, you know, in in six in one year, for God's sakes. And I'll put those up, put those links on those both those guys in the show notes at indie film, hustle, calm forward slash 142. And but here's what they did, they just kept pounding it. And they kept adjusting and moving. When something didn't work, they shifted, and so on. Big, big lesson I learned working with any film, hustle, react and adjust. And then the final lesson that I want to talk to you guys about is patience. It is a subject and a term that most filmmakers and artists don't want to deal with. I didn't want to deal with it. It took me again, 20 odd years to learn. Patience. indie film, hustle has taught me patience. Because like I said, When I started, I started with one article, and one podcast episode. That's it. So if I would have done 10 podcast episodes, 20 podcasts on 50 podcast episodes, and nothing has really gone on, I would have been like, Well, you know, I gotta go, I gotta do it. No, I just kept going. did not look at the results. I just wanted to keep going. Because eventually, something will happen. If the be smart about it, don't just keep dumping your head and hitting your head against the wall. But patience. All good things come from patience. Okay, I'm just telling you guys so much. This is the lesson has took me the longest to learn forever.
I mean, I've literally finished. We finished editing Meg in August of last year, we are now in February, and I've yet to show it to, to anyone it's premiering in a few weeks. Yes. But you know, that had to wait eight months, before I could premiere it to the world. And then I have to wait another few months before I actually release it. That's patience. You know, creating this podcast, patience, again, consistency and patience. But when you do something patiently, and you keep working at it, things will happen. So I guarantee you as a filmmaker, if you make over the next five years, 345 feature films, if not more feature films over the next five years, and keep putting them out and learning and growing. I guarantee you, things will happen. People will take notice. But it takes time. It takes patience. And you have to look at the long game. Don't look only at the short game. This is not a sprint. This is a marathon. So patience is probably the one of the greatest lessons I've ever learned from indie film hustle. And I'm very, very grateful for indie film hustle for teaching me that lesson. So I hope you enjoyed this podcast I just kind of got the idea for it literally an hour ago and I said you know what, I think this is something that might be valuable to the tribe. It's it's not the the sparkling Elijah Wood interviews or, or big time producers or screenwriters or anything like that. It's just some lessons I've learned. And I wanted to pass those lessons on to you guys. Because I'm really grateful for all the love and all the support that you guys give me. And and, and the constant messages and thank yous and stories that you guys tell me. I'm so grateful for all of all of that. And I'm so glad that the work that I'm doing is it is actually making a difference. And some of your lives out there listening and making a difference in your journeys as filmmakers, as artists, and as entrepreneurs. And I wish you guys nothing but the best on your journeys as filmmakers, as artists, and as business people, because that's another big element in what we do. And you know one last thing I just thought of this the one last lesson you learn and I hate to be cliche, but hustle. How could I forget? hustle? hustle is is is a lesson I've learned when I was five. So that wasn't a lesson I have had trouble. I've been hustling all my life. And I've been it's just something that's in my blood. But that is very, very powerful. Is that term hustle. It's why I call it indie film hustle. Because you've got to hustle to get where you want to go in life. No matter what you do. No matter what you're trying to achieve. Without hustle. Yang got nothing. I don't care how talented you are, how beautiful you are, how amazingly gifted you think you might be without hustle. You're nowhere. I guarantee you that and everyone who's made it. I think out there in the film industry can attest to a little bit of hustle some luck. is always helpful, but hustle is where it gets you to the place where luck will present itself. I hope you guys got something out of this episode I did enjoy doing it. So hopefully, you guys got a little bit of knowledge and hopefully some inspiration on your own journeys. Now don't forget to head over to free film book comm that's free film book.com to download your free filmmaking audio book from audible. And if you want to take amazing online courses from legends like Warner Hertzog and Aaron Sorkin, head over to indie film hustle.com Ford slash masterclass and guys I got a lot of stuff coming up in the week I got some amazing guests coming up. He really amazed I just did an interview today that I'm so stoked about I can't even tell you about just I can't tell you that there's I got so many great guys coming up in the next next few weeks or next month or two. So keep an eye out for that. And also guys don't forget we are going to be at cinequest premiering world premiering This is Meg you guys have been on the journey since the beginning. So if you are in the Bay Area or in San Jose, are you going to be at cinequest and want tickets to the to show where there's going to be like six or seven showings of this is Meg. But Julian I and a bunch of the cast and crew are going to be there on Saturdays world premiere, which is at 3pm March 3, I think third or fourth on that Saturday, and then also that Sunday night will be there as well. I'll leave you links to tickets in the show notes at indiefilmhustle.com/142. As always keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.
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