The Movie Business is the Entrepreneur Business, and if you are a Filmmaker or Actor make no mistake: You are an Entrepreneur.
What is an Entrepreneur?
The definition of an entrepreneur is someone who starts and runs their own business—someone who invests in their own business. And if you are creating your own art from scratch and or promoting your own art (or self as an artist) you are an entrepreneur.
The business of being an entrepreneur requires you to be a self-starter. It requires you to get up every morning and be proactive. If you're not a self starter and you want to be in the movie buiz you're going to have to learn to become one. You're going to have to learn how to become an entrepreneur.
Myself and Kurt Mayry took the Motion Picture Institute from weekend workshops to a full fledged trade school with over a thousand graduates and countless success stories in just 20 short years. We didn't inherit the school. We weren't hired by anyone to run it. We started small with the singular vision of launching a school for independent filmmakers and went to work.
Additionally we have developed and self produced over half a dozen feature films; all of which have found what would be considered successful distribution (HBO,Showtime,RedBox, etc).
In all this you could say we are mostly entrepreneurs. We took ideas and made them happen. Each film is its own business that we started from scratch. The school was also started this way. So although we are filmmakers and educators we are mostly entrepreneurs.
If you want to work in movies either in front or behind the camera you must become an entrepreneur. If you're not good at pitching and selling yourself or your art then you won't get very far in this business. This is why the playing field is littered with so many unemployed with film degrees. Getting a degree doesn't make you an entrepreneur. In fact the degree can disarm the entrepreneur and give them a false sense of success.
So… How does one become an entrepreneur?
1) Entrepreneurs Are Passionate
Well first you have to possess plenty of passion for your art. You have to want to be a filmmaker or actor more than anything else in the world. You have to want it regardless of the outcome.
In other words you have to love moviemaking regardless of whether you're going to make a living at it. You'd still be making movies even if it was just a weekend hobby. You'd still be pursuing acting on the weekends even if it was a hobby.
Once you've established that your passion exceeds mere financial or social success than you've accomplished the first step towards becoming an entrepreneur.
2) Entrepreneurs Indulge Their Passion
Next you need to become an extrovert. And here's where the real challenge lies because most of us who pursue the arts as a form of self-expression do so because we are largely introverts. So to change that you need to turn to that passion I was just talking about.
You see an introvert can easily become an extrovert when they are able to hide behind their passion. Living thru your passion and using it as a kind of shield can provide comfort to introverts. Suddenly it's your art that your selling not yourself (although in reality we all know we're selling ourselves).
So step 2 is to wear your passion like a suit of armor and set out to achieve your main objective.
3) Entrepreneurs Focus On Their Passion
Finally, once you've defined your true passion and have learned how to use it you MUST limit your options.
Those with options tend to take them. If you're setting out to become an actor or filmmaker, but you have a job opportunity waiting for you back home, the odds are really good that when things get tough you'll take that option.
So, do yourself a favor and limit your options. If you want to lose weight don't have any food in your house; limit your options. Every entrepreneur experiences tough times. And during those tough times if you have options you're much more likely to take them. So the way to ensure that you stick to your one and only goal is to make sure it's your only option.
Entrepreneurship really is that simple:
- Define your passion.
- Use it to help you become an extrovert, and
- Make your passion your only option.
This is how you become an entrepreneur. This is a necessity to exist and hopefully thrive in the movie buiz.
About the Author
Doug Schulze is an award winning independent filmmaker and Cofounder/ CEO of the Motion Picture Institute.