A little while ago I got a message on FB from someone. Their questions had me thinking for a couple days.
Here’s what they asked:
I know your time is valuable but please allow me a short question.
I am impressed and happy for you of becoming very successful in making films in such a short time and travel around the world. I’m wondering how you get clients all over the world. Is it just the network marketing you talked about on CL (Creative Live) or is there more? Are your clients coming to you or do you reach out and ask them? Or do you even have a sort of agent?
I love filming and do it quite good IMO but I’m still struggling with paying my bills (since it’s my only income) and that feels like it’s killing my energies.
Thanks for your time and keep up the great work!
These are great questions and I’ve decided to share the answers here. Maybe it is something we can all chat about.
Let’s start with being ‘successful in such a short time’… To be honest, I think sometimes we misunderstand how long it has taken people to get somewhere. Also the things going on behind the scenes. Few people post on their business blog all the mistakes they have made or the things that didn’t work…
I have been making short films since 2006. I didn’t even own a video camera for a long time – I borrowed one. I learnt to edit on the fly and slowly built up my skills in film making, photography and with my husbands help, the business. It felt pretty slow going most days. Actually to be honest it still feels slow.
In terms of success, I still feel far, far from my end goals. (It feels like I might be about 1/3rd of the way… ahahha!)
I know a young guy who started making films way, way after me and is much further along the journey! Directing amazing award-winning films already and he is only in his 20′s. If we look around we will always feel way behind.
‘The thief of joy is comparison’ and I now try not to look to others lives, wondering how they got there and why am I not there…. it only serves to make me miserable!
I get to travel too! A lot of this comes down to priorities. We travel as a family lots, but on the flip side we don‘t own a house.
We have chosen some things over others. I choose work I LOVE to do and on the flip side sometimes that means earning less.
We choose to not send our kids to school which we love, but on the flip side means we are always juggling.
I am successful in that I have a gorgeous family and have built a business and a lifestyle I love. As far as finishing my own films or heading toward my end game though, it still feels far away.
Many times paying bills has been tricky. That’s the journey sometimes. Many times I have wondered if I can do this for a living. To be honest sometimes I still wonder how we will make it all work.
Sometimes it all works together amazingly and sometimes it is just plain hard work sustained by a passion for the work you are doing.
If you love, LOVE what you’re doing, the ONLY choice you have is to keep going. One small step at a time. I LOVE, LOVE what I am doing and I think for me passion for this is what keeps me going – even when it gets hard.
In terms of marketing, I am insanely lucky with the people I have worked for and with. The caliber of client I have has spread my work and provided many wonderful travel opportunities.
People like Sue Bryce championing me and spreading my work has helped a lot, and to her I am so grateful! I get to travel a lot with the aid organisation I work with, but this work has come out of relationships. Relationships built over time that eventually – in some cases – leads to work as well as friendship.
I don’t have an agent and I am not great at marketing myself (Sue Bryce will attest to this!). I am working on this… But right now work comes through word-of-mouth and delivering what I intend to, client after client. Sometimes it comes from writing emails and putting myself out there, and often it’s just someone finding me randomly! Each and every one of my interactions both from my personal projects and professional projects go toward building something.
For directing and TV commercial work I am signed with a production company here in Brisbane, one in Sydney and another in LA. This is still a fairly small part of our work but one that is growing.
The purpose of me sharing this is to encourage you that if you are doing what you love to do, you have to keep going!
ONE. STEP. AT. A. TIME.
Finally, here is a little story of one of my projects that has taken a long time but I just keep going – one. step. at. a. time.
I made a short film in 2008 with a friend. ‘Ruby Who?’ We used my daughters and friends as actors, borrowed a camera, begged for time and locations and props. I barely knew what I was doing but I knew I had something to say. I also knew I wanted to turn the film into a kids book. It took me another four years to get that made (special thanks goes to Alarna Zinn for that)! I also had a plan to make a kids workbook that goes with the film and book. Andrew is just putting the finishing touches on that now. It has taken us, all up, about six years on-and-off work. When we have spare $ and spare time we invest them into our passion. Six years for this project to be what I had in my head to create. Seems pretty long for a six minute short film, a kids book and a little workbook – that’s because it is long!! ha!
The thing is, like lots of people I am juggling work and kids and passion and love and relationships and the ups and downs of life and business. One thing I do know is that I have to keep going on what I love because it leads me to where I am meant to be.
Here are some resources I have found to be invaluable. I hope you do, too!
Hugs from us for the journey and thanks Jens for your awesome question!