“If you want to make movies kid, you first have to go just a little bit insane…then you go a lot insane…” Those words were uttered (slurred a bit) by a 9 am whiskey, trodden director on the set of one of my first indie films and it has been one of the most useful industry insights I’ve ever received.
It’s crazy how inspiration and insight come from the oddest of places sometimes. Some people call it grace, others coincidence, I like to think of it as synchronicity: the universe aligning itself to fit your desires by placing events, circumstance, and people in your path at the time you need them.
There I was sitting on a rock in the middle of a field covered in food dye (ultra-low budget stage blood) and wondering what I was thinking when I took the gig. It was 2 hours after call time and the director was nowhere to be found. This is especially problematic on an indie set where the director is also the AD, cinematographer, writer, producer, special effects, 2nd lead, and everything else on set!
I wanted the credit on my resume but after a few days of putting up with this guy, I wondered if the movie would ever be finished.
Have you ever found yourself in a similar situation?
A little note about synchronicity…
Sometimes things are working out exactly as they are supposed to, but you won’t recognize it because it will happen as the exact opposite of the way you think it was supposed to go.
I wanted to learn the movie business at the time, and rather than making the switch to being an actor-director, I wanted to observe and learn from people already doing it. I’m impatient and I just wanted it downloaded straight into my brain (Neo in The Matrix style).
And that’s exactly what I got.
See, to break into the movie business you do have to be a little bit insane. You have to go against conventional wisdom, but most people are too afraid to do this and instead they seek to compete in “traditional ways.”
They try everything imaginable to make a $10,000 indie look like a $100,000,000 production and then go out and compete head to head with them. This is like challenging a Lamborghini to a race while you’re riding a bike. Your only chance of winning is the tires falling of the Lambo!
Rather than doing this, the directors that have cut through the industry chaos and built enviable careers, are the ones that did things differently.
When looking for your own Billy Walsh, you have to be able to recognize this trait. They must fearlessly go against the grain, in order for your partnership to work.
When you’re brainstorming projects, look for projects that are different. Whatever production you choose to jump into should be related to the genre you want to specialize in, but it should also have a differentiating factor.
I’ll give you an example. If you want to be an action star, don’t look for a project that requires tons of special effects. Sure, you can do just about anything in post these days, but to get effects that look real will stay require a ton of cash.
Rather than a War of the Worlds, or Avengers type of project go a different route. Think of The Purge. It still fits in the action genre, just in a different segment.
It didn’t require a ton of special effects, as most of it was done with lighting and sound. This helps to keep production costs down, while also maintaining the reality of a film which is what keeps the audience engaged.
Following this example, here’s how to go from idea to lights, camera, action.
First, find your Billy Walsh…and make sure you get one that is a creative genius and thinks outside the box.
Then, find a production to work on together. Chances are that your Billy Walsh has a few of them in various stages of development already. Choose the one that has a differentiating factor, to keep from going into a head to head competition with the big budget studio films.
Once you and your Billy Walsh have decided on a project to work on, assemble you team of soon to be industry heavy hitters. Everything you need, from cinematography, to lighting, sound, and even post production work can be had for almost no cost.
When you hire someone to work on this project with you, don’t offer cash. Instead look for ambitious people that need to work on a real set. Students are a great fit. By trading in a zero cash scenario, you will only attract committed, hardworking, and ambitious people to your project. These are the kind of folks you will need anyway, so you are just taking a shortcut to finding them.
Once you have assembled your all star crew, it’s time to start casting.
NOTE: you want to do it in this order because it’s much easier to attract quality talent when you bring a full crew to the table. Actors who would have never thought twice about your project before, will suddenly become available when you can offer a full crew.
Since this is your production, of course you get the pick the role you want to play! The best way to fill in the other roles is not to host auditions!
That puts you in direct competition with everyone else. Instead, use The Walsh Effect!
Go to IMDb and do the same thing you did to find your Billy Walsh, but instead of searching for a director you will be searching for your costars. You can still have them read for you so can gauge the chemistry of course.
And don’t be shy about who you connect with. Remember that you bring a fully functioning production with a full crew to the table.
Once you’ve assembled your crew and selected your costars, the fun is ready to begin. When you go into production in this manner, you will notice something that is absent from almost every production you’ve ever worked on…
The egos will be absent. You will be working with people who love their craft, on a production that has become a team effort. Everyone will be pushing you to the finish line and be excited about the finished product.
When you go to post production, keep everyone involved and to preserve the comradery and the contacts. Once your production is fully wrapped, this will bring you scores of opportunities. If you created 15 new contacts, you will now have 15 people who will remember you next time there is a need for someone like you in one of their projects.
This is how real industry networking works.
That’s it grasshopper! A purposefully simplistic process for going from idea to lights, camera, action. Lather, rinse, repeat and you will never struggle to find work again. Before long, work will be finding you and you will be graduating to bigger and better projects.
Once you get into production, the details will work themselves out. Keep your focus on the big picture and remember that it all starts with leveraging The Walsh Effect.
If you don’t want to be a producer and only want to act, that’s ok. The goal is not for you to take it on full time. It’s simply about creating opportunity when you need it. Instead of doing the same thing as everyone else and hoping to be discovered, you can make things happen.
The Walsh Effect is easily the most powerful tool at your disposal. It’s what the top actors use to relaunch their careers and take them to new heights.
Make sure that your IMDb ranking matches your ambition and you’re set to use The Walsh Effect to open doors where none existed.
Create demand for yourself and remember that everyone who has launched a successful career in the industry went about it proactively. Study the actors you most look up to. Look at the credits of their projects and you will see the same names pop up over and over again.
This is The Walsh Effect in plain view.
This is the end of today’s release. If you don’t have an audition today, then go here and get started. You always have someone in your corner because I’m always only a comment or an email away. So, let me know what you’re going to do next.
See you at the top,