We’ve learned a lot of new things in the last three months from New York. We learned how to start a company, we learned new programming elements of iOS and HTML5. We learned about the publishing industry. We learned about the city. We learned about raising funding. We learned about the tech scene.
And now that we’re back in LA we’re learning something totally new: film production.
I was a teenage actor – it was why I moved from Ventura to Los Angeles at twelve and a half.
From that time until around eighteen I was pampered and paid to do, what I perceive as now from a startup perspective, a lot of waiting around and very little work. And that’s ok. You’ve got to get people who look fifteen and sixteen years old on camera – but when you can you just hire a short, bright eyed twenty-five year old. And that happened a lot the older I got.
The point is that during that time of acting I never really noticed what was happening around me. It was going so smoothly, so fluidly, that I didn’t think about what HARD WORK film production is. It is, in many ways, the ultimate team sport.
And it’s not like I haven’t directed or produced things before. The difference now is that it is actually real. The content you’re getting isn’t for a school play or project or something. This is going out in the market.
So when I set up some time to get exclusive interview and filming time with our first real artist, Mann, I knew that things would be different. They were – mostly in the category of being way harder.
I had written a treatment for a digital short that would feature the startup and Mann in a mocumentary/comedy sketch about startup life and the work we do. I wrote it out, got a director, (my new roommate) and set our shooting date three days later from 9AM until 1 PM to shoot a five minute short with no equipment on hand.
That didn’t work.
Turns out that to shoot a short with moderate movement and five people you need a whole bunch of lights, a PA, Mixer, a dolly for the camera, and someone coordinating the production.
We’re still only a startup company – two programmers, a designer, and an ex-actor turned rapper.
So we are saving the short for when the artist returns from a tour in the Middle East and UK, but we got the exclusive shots we needed for the app done today. We almost burnt down the studio with sparkler candles, had two broken microphones, lost footage scare, and started filming an hour after scheduled time because no one could figure out how to park and get to the building.
I learned the importance of these roles in production: prop person, sound guy, assistant director, and production assistant – none of which we really had.
So, more important than all of that, it’s about team work. It’s about fulfilling as many roles as you humanly can until the project gets done. Sound familiar?
Film production is a lot like a startup. It takes a lot of hard work. It’s inherently entrepreneurial – except degrees more glamorous.
In three days we went from having NOTHING, to having an exclusive interview with an artist who has sold over a million records, a director, three cameras, three lights, a co-producer, and a sound setup. How?
It’s all about connections.
I sent the treatment out, talked with some people, ASKED for space and equipment, and, not surprisingly, was given everything that I asked for. For free! Startups need to do the same thing.
Once I wrote the treatment I started to think of all the people who MIGHT have the things I needed. Then I promptly sent them emails or called every one of them. Less than 50% answered my calls for help – that was all that I needed.
Lesson: Set up strategic partnerships as soon as possible and convince people using pure enthusiasm and excitement. If you do not have passion you should not expect people to help you. When you’re a great idea with great people starting to put together legitimate numbers to convince cash concentrated individuals that you are a great investment – STAY HUMBLE!
Always ask how you can help, what you can do for others, and what they are looking to do and accomplish. Every person you meet is a potential piece to the puzzle you’re trying to finish – never turn down favors.
Bottom line: It’s really great to be back in Los Angeles. I love this city. It allows me to use my skill set precisely. And it has a huge tolerance for eccentricity. That’s extra important.
So, enjoy this video I found about Los Angeles. Let it get you in the spirit of movement, progress, transformation, and energy.
I think the video feels a lot like Final Fantasy VII. A bunch of people keep telling us that getting into the music space is going to be difficult. A little like Cloud going against Shinra. We’ve got pure motives, tenacity, a desperate desire to see real, positive transformation in this world, and not much to lose.