Have you ever wondered what it takes to produce and market an award-winning feature film? As a business owner there are more things you can learn from the film biz than you may think.
I was recently invited to audition for a voice-over role in a national television series. After rehearsing my lines, I walked into a state-of-the-art recording studio, and I was definitely impressed with the amount of investment and organization required to capture just one voice! No, I didn’t get the role, but I did get an opportunity to learn more about the business of film and what it takes to be successful. Here are five points I discovered, which could help you get your star on the walk of fame in the small business world:
1. Show Me the Money! Master the Art of Pitching
Everyone loves a great story. In film, you’ll never get anyone to read your script if you can’t get their attention - and fast - with a unique twist. For your purposes, maybe the butler didn’t do it!
As a business owner, you may only have a few minutes to describe what your company does to your ideal customer or a key supplier. Some people call this the “elevator pitch,” which is a well-practiced account of your business that clearly defines your unique selling proposition, expressed in the time it takes to ride up an elevator! And if you’re doing business in Saskatoon you’ve only got about twenty floors to work with - so be concise.
2. Always have something in development
How much time do you spend servicing your largest client? Although this client or contract might account for a significant portion of your revenue, you should also spend time and resources developing new ideas or pursuing your next largest client. Successful film companies know how long it takes to get a concept from pitch to screen, and have a dedicated department responsible for developing new projects to diversify the company’s revenue stream.
3. Select the best people to execute your vision
Who is attached to your project? In film, you need a great script, but it’s your director and stars that sell the picture - your script is the vision, and the talent execute that vision. Can you imagine Brian de Palma’s Scarface if Billy Crystal had starred as Tony Montana? Hundreds of people work in the creation, development, production and marketing of a successful film project. And every single person, from the set designer to the executive producer are working together to achieve the same vision. Likewise, you need to spend enough time assigning the right people to the right roles in your business.
4. Never spend your contingency on your first day of shoot
The director wants 20 extra people in the shot, but it’s not in the budget - Do you dip into contingency? A seasoned producer will tell the director no, and save the contingency for the day when the star comes down with “food poisoning” and an extra day has to be added to the schedule.
Develop a sound budget and strategy and then stress-test it (optimistic, pessimistic and most likely scenarios) for unforeseen circumstances. Then make sure you only dip into the rainy day fund when you really need it - not just because you want to.
5. “I know a guy who knows a guy”
Persistently nurture your personal network. From my experience dealing with small businesses, the long-lasting relationships built around loyal customers, suppliers, employees and trusted business partners represent the most valuable asset in a company. Make a point to proactively contact your customers, become a subject-matter expert, cultivate referral sources, and create your own “circle of trust.”
Finally, take a minute to watch the following video, in which television & film producers and small business owners give their insight on these five points for success.
That’s a wrap folks!
Mauricio Vizconde is a BMO Branch Manager in Saskatoon.