I don’t have a recognizable name nor a recognizable film. In essence, most of the world couldn’t care less about me nor my movies. Notice, however, I didn’t merely say I’m a nobody in general. I do believe that I am just as important as anyone else in the sphere of humanity, but I most certainly am a nobody in the world of film. Nonetheless, rather than discourage and ruin, this awareness has actually liberated me and has provided an invaluable perspective on my work and career.
The internet, mass media, and proliferation of discussion panels and seminars have made film industry experts readily available to beginning filmmakers. Folks who once were virtually unreachable are now a click away on their blog, Facebook or Twitter page. As a result, beginning filmmakers can listen in on the conversation between experts. Insider tips and wisdom regarding all areas of film are now available, from casting celebrities to securing a VOD deal.
However, there is a buried assumption in all the talk amongst most experts: that a filmmaker or their project has a certain level of credibility, hype or leverage. Sure, sometimes the gurus discuss general principles and concepts that apply to every level of filmmaking, but more often than not, the discussion presumes a relatively high level of stock in either the filmmaker or their film. As a result, many of these conversations are irrelevant to nobody filmmakers, like me, who have no reputable name nor a film with high salability. Nonetheless, we continue to invest lots of time, energy and money trying to learn from the experts. We eagerly read blogs and attend seminars in search of the Golden Key, which will unlock the door to success.
When I was learning to play golf as a teen, the overabundance of lessons, tips, and tricks in magazines, books and videos quickly overwhelmed me – and this was before the net! Then, and I don’t remember where, I heard Arnold Palmer say that beginning golfers ought to simply go out and try to hit the ball. Just make contact; that’s it. Rather than spend countless hours working on details, angles, etcetera, beginners ought to go out and swing away.
A beginning filmmaker can learn all about financing, film production, marketing and distribution, but if they have little or nothing to back it up with, what’s the point? I’ve met numerous filmmakers who think they can raise thousands of dollars, even millions, with one script in hand and a decent short film to their credit. Who do they think they are? What other business or profession operates like that? None! You want me to give you tens of thousands, even millions because you wrote a script and made a snazzy little short film? Really?
Like every other profession in the world, filmmakers must earn their right to ask for thousands of dollars. They need to earn their right to mass market their film and seek distribution. They need to earn their right for people to care about them and their film. It’s so easy these days to send emails, tweets and posts about your project. It’s so easy to create your own Fan page on Facebook and invite me to join. It’s all easy. Incredibly easy.
But the hard part has not changed: the work, the labor, the blood, the sweat, and the tears. The baker bakes. The contractor builds. Andthe filmmaker must make films, continuously, ceaselessly, not just one project, but numerous projects, dozens or more. What baker bakes one loaf of bread and asks for thousands of dollars to open up a bakery. What contractor builds one home and expects to have thousands of fans on Facebook. None. It’s ludicrous. As a nobody filmmaker, I have come to realize that I need to earn my right to people’s attention, time and dollars. And the way I earn that right is by consistently making films, plain-and-simple.
I’ve likened the current independent film world like a giant stadium full of screaming people. It’s cacophonous and immensely intimidating. Everyone is vying for attention, trying to make their presence felt. The experts are on the field, at the center of attention, while the rest of us scream our heads off. Some in the stands get crafty and hold up signs. Some even wear costumes and cover themselves in face paint. And every now and then, one or two hop the wall and run across the field, ensuring a couple minutes of guaranteed attention.
I’m tired of yelling and screaming. And I’m tired of the noise. I’vetried and tried to get attention and it really doesn’t work. Everyone else is yelling and the people on the field really don’t care. Even if they did, it’s just too damn loud to notice me. So I’ve decided to stop, take a breath, and start a conversation with those around me. And if they don’t listen, I’ll simply head over to another section, where I might find some like-minded folks willing to settle down and carry on a meaningful conversation. It hasn’t been easy, since many simply want to keep on yelling, but I’m happy to say it’s been going well. I continue to meet a few people who don’t want to yell, but want to connect, collaborate, and support.
As a result, my nobody-ness as a filmmaker is not entirely true. I’ve come to realize that I am somebody to a few people. Although not many, there are some folks who genuinely care about my films. They watch my films, read my blog posts, and anticipate my future films. Many are preexisting friends and family members and some are tried and true fans of my work whom I have never met. To them, I am a somebody. And to them I am eternally grateful.
So as a nobody filmmaker, I have turned to those who treat me like a somebody. They may not be many in number, but the few that there are have meant the world to me. They are my friends, family and colleagues who genuinely care. And as I continue to make films and develop my craft, I will share first and foremost with them. Rather than create a Fan page, I will call them, email them and let them know what I’m up to. And, hopefully, if my films are any good, they’ll spread the word and, maybe, create a Fan page for me!
-Christopher J. Boghosian-
Christopher J. Boghosian is an independent filmaker in Los Angeles, California. He regularly contributes Production Notes regarding his filmaking approach and the making of his feature film Girlfriend 19, which you can check out at FollowMyFilm.com.