I recently had the privilege of talking with Ben Walton as part of a GiveGetWin deal.
Ben was a law student who, coming to his senses, dropped out to pursue film. Recently a semi-finalist in the New Zealand Film Commission's Fresh Shorts funding competition.
Perhaps most impressively to aspiring screenwriters, he was able to 100% fund his current project -- Zinzan -- on Indiegogo.
He'll share with you how he did it, and what your steps should be next Saturday in a live class for $10. Only 8 spots, get one here: http://givegetwin.com/collections/all/products/how-to-write-and-direct-film-for-beginners-by-ben-walton
In his words -
"I was in Law School when I stumbled onto a creative writing paper. It was so different from all the law work that I was doing and sparked something inside of me. I didn't love what I was doing. I wanted to do something more creative. As soon as I started messing around with making films, it clicked for me.
"So I dropped out and went to a post-grad film making school.
"I’d never really thought that making films is something that I could do. I’ve always enjoyed watching film and telling stories, but there aren’t too many film role models out here in New Zealand. But as soon as I took that leap, I realized there are lots of people doing it even if they’re not in the media spotlight.
"One major problem with the industry is there’s not a lot of job security unless you’re working on a TV show or something else that provides recurring income. That’s why many film makers, such as myself, have a job on the back burner to make a living.
"The hardest part about filmmaking for me was learning to trust other people. Unlike many forms of art, like painting for example, you can’t make a film all yourself. You need a support network where you can get feedback and help constantly. You also need good actors and funding, which is hard because you lose some of that feeling of ownership over your work.
"Nowadays, it’s so much easier to make a short film and get it out there for people to see. You can make a film on your phone and post it to YouTube to get feedback in hardly any time at all. The downside to this is there’s a lot of content out there so it’s hard to break through. You have to distinguish yourself.
"The most unique and best stories are ones that are simply honest from the person who’s telling them. If you’re just mimicking someone else’s work it won’t stand out and you won’t make an impact. Whether it’s the story you tell, the way you work with your actors or the way you film things differently, it has to be honest to yourself.
"The most important thing I’ve learned is to stick with my gut. Don’t confuse this with not taking other people’s advice however; if five people are all telling you the same thing you should probably think about changing it or finding your own solution to the problem. The script that we’re about to film now has gone through so many changes for the better because of other people’s feedback.
"Many times you’ll think it’s perfect if someone else is not there to check your work. At the same time if you feel very strong pushback from inside you, you should consider keeping it. If you’re having such a strong negative reaction, it’s probably coming from a place of truth.
"For me, a good mentor is someone who understands my work, what I want to do, and is able to help me get to that point. If they are focusing too much on the finer details, they're probably not doing a good job, and should instead aid the greater trajectory of the story and the film, and make sure they align with my goals as a filmmaker.
"I think trying out film is great for anyone who likes film or writing (as a hobby or eventually full time job). It’s really easy to just put together a few minute video or a longer one over the course of a few months. It’s really rewarding and a lot of fun.
"There are lots of opportunities for anyone with great content or storytelling. For example, there are tons of Indie film festivals that run worldwide dying for interesting content. That’s not necessarily stuff that looks amazing, but just a person telling a good story."