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Mentoring for your first feature!

Mentoring

I've been asked a number of times now if I would mentor filmmakers on their journey to make their first feature. As I've always been happy to support new filmmakers, through SP and other outlets, I've never actually had anything structured to truly support a mentees journey. Features are not small activities - they are a business. And one that shouldn't be taken on light heartedly. But the more I get asked, the more it gets me thinking...

To make the whole process worthwhile for both sides of the equation, there would have to be enough people interested, for starters. So this is where I am at the moment. Asking that question to everyone who wants to embark on their first feature but still lacks the confidence, knowledge, contacts, support or any other number of show stoppers.

Would it cost anything? Possibly. Probably. But this is not about making money. Covering costs yes probably. But you'd have to be committed so as to not waste your time or mine.

So ask your questions here, or IM me directly. What is it that's stopping you making your first feature? What support would you need to get you moving?

Personally, I don't believe that it's money per se that stops us. It's a lack of confidence or knowledge of what's on the 'other side'. A feature means that you have to now take it seriously. It's not a game anymore. It can be fun, for sure. But there is now the added responsibility of aiming to make money - or a return on any investment, large or small.

I think that I could possibly mentor a small number of people on a 1-2-1 basis, certainly more on a group basis. But training this is not! I must stress that. If you want actual training, then there are much better courses out there that I wouldn't care to try and emulate. And if a lot of people were interested, I'm sure that I could convince some of the more esteemed 'doyen' colleagues here on SP to join in.

And for those of you who are asking, who the hell is 'Wozy'... search the forums, ask the SP doyens, look me up on IMDB... do your due diligence.

So, over to you...

Go. Be. Epic!

Wozy

  • 10 hrs and no takers? This is a nice offer for someone!

    9 months ago
  • Just seen this Lee and I'm definitely up for a deeper chat. Just getting some work out of the door and I'll drop you an IM later. :)

    Cheers,

    Chris

    9 months ago
  • I'm not at all surprised, Paddy. I meet quite a few here in L.A. that are working on first features, and I'll say "if you want me to take a look at it, I'd be happy to." They know what I do for a living, yet they turn down free advice. Personally, I wouldn't turn down even an inexperienced fresh pair of eyes to look at a cut. Kids, today. NOW GET OFF MY LAWN!

    9 months ago
    • One day Dan I'm going to track you down and take you for a pint :). Goes for you too, Wozy!

      9 months ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin Fuck, man. I'd love that. Trying to get to London, but not as easy as it used to be!

      9 months ago
    • @Dan Selakovich Well since we rogered the Pound in a bout of petulant self-harm at least it's 15% cheaper to come here now than last year... Come, visitors, we need your money!

      Actually Dan it might be worth thinking how you can take your rigs book into the realm of a hands-on workshop and hitting the touring/seminar circuit. Raindance in the UK promote a lot of the usual US seminar faces like Dov SS and McKee... Better than paying to go somewhere is to be paid to go somewhere...

      9 months ago
    • @Paddy Robinson-Griffin I used to do that at NAB every year. They always gave me grief about the cost of shipping from L.A. to Vegas. My reply: "Well, how can I do a seminar on equipment without the equipment?" Focal Press has been trying to get me to write a book on another seminar I did there on directing... well, camera placement to be precise. I might still write that one. That would be better suited to travel. The rig book was translated into Chinese, so hopefully my royalties will pop up a bit until that version is pirated as well.

      9 months ago
    • @Dan Selakovich I do hope so :)

      9 months ago
  • Sounds like a gig worth trying. There's a few pints waiting to be pulled now. Just to remind you Dan, London might be the biggest hub but there's quite a bit going on elsewhere too. When you get here you'll need to head west out of London. I imagine that you'd find Bath and the wild hills of Mid Wales quite entertaining!

    About meeting regulatory requirements. As it happens my other day job is what I losely call 'strategic development', it's a handy catch all nomenclature where law and business aspirations are adapted and applied to fit circumstances. Tax evasion for example is unlawful but tax avoidance (not the main focus of my interest) in is an activity of the great and the good. There's singular activities that can be legally named and described by two or more different labels. The differing affect of those labels can be the difference of doing what one wants or being blocked by proscriptive regulation. Often it's the very over subscriptiveness of regulations that are its own weakness.

    Don't be a cap doffer , stand back from the box and check out the leaky holes.

    For him that has an ear let him hear, for him that has an eye let him see.

    9 months ago
  • Oops I've just posted in the wrong strand. I meant this to go into the one about seeking opportunities in the USA. Ironically though it's not entirely a non sequitur within this one either.

    9 months ago
  • Hi Wozy' 'this is not about making money. Covering costs yes, probably.' I was tempted to be rude and asked what planet you're on but more accurately in these days of the multiverse - the infinity of universes, no longer disputed in academic circles I gather - what universe are you in? 'Covering costs, yes probably'.(?) Given that you probably know more about this than I is it actually possible? For a feature?! Then why haven't I made the three or four 'features' that have been buzzing around in my brain for the past few decades? Not to mention the four shorts already written and unfilmed. I did one that utilised the resources of Farnborough Tech on a video and TV course there but that wasn't resourced enough. I estimate I'd need at least a grand to make one of my shorts and that would almost certainly not be enough. Of course, I'm a lot longer tooth-wise than you so I'm probably lacking the balls these days to take such a chance
    .
    Oh, and Paddy and Dan - it's OK chatting and joking about pints of beer etc (in that event I would gladly join you and stand my round) but aren't you rather changing the subject guys? How can you possibly make even a short let alone a feature and get close to getting your dosh back? And how do you get it out there without even more dosh and back-handers etc?
    I've quoted him before but do you recall Alan Parker's comments after filming 'Midnight Express' ? 'That was the easy bit - now to get it distributed'

    9 months ago
    • Hi Allan - from your questions above, either I hadn't explained myself well enough or you misunderstood what I was saying. I'm not suggesting making a film for cost - there would be a cost for mentoring, probably. In an environment where people have an expectation that things are free, or near free, or can be gained for free, then I didn't want to be offering something without pointing out there would be costs involved.

      In my experience, most filmmakers have dozens of ideas buzzing in their heads. They're just waiting for someone to show them the way, or point them in the right direction - and to do it in a way that offers them confidence and insight. How do I make my script the best it can be? Who should read it? How long should it take to write a 90 page feature if I want to forge a professional career in writing AND be competitive? Can a first time director make a £3m movie? or a £1m movie? What are the investor expectations of a new filmmaker? How do I present myself and my project to not make me look completely naive and stupid in front of investors, producers or agents etc? There are a million questions that need answering and the ONLY way of effectively finding out, if you want to avoid the pitfalls, is to talk to someone who has done it before you.

      On my first feature I was mentored by a double BAFTA winning writer/director. I couldn't have made the film without his help. The budget for that film was about £150k. This helped step me up to bigger projects. It's a process. If you don't start at the beginning, then you don't work your way up, or you stall or you miss vital learnings.

      Age is all in the mind. It may stop you, but what if it didn't? Get the right team around you with a willingness to listen and learn and you CAN make progress. Some wont make it of course. But some will. Which do you want to be? And I'm not asking you these questions per se, but ask yourself them.

      Distribution. Distribution is a bitch! Let's face it. You could slog away for a year or more. Climb mountains and achieve great things with actually completing production and post. But then completely fail to get a sales agent or a distributor interested. That's the landscape I'm afraid. All you can do is take the tried and tested steps to fulfilling everything that makes your film salable and marketable. Then you have a chance. If you don't then your chances are greatly reduced.

      Two films I worked on as Producer last year gained sales. A TV series the year before I produced on, which was made completely speculatively, gained sales. It's doable, of course it is or we'd be turning on our TV sets and arriving at the Odeon to find the screens blank.

      It's a frame of mind you need to develop. Look for the faults and only the faults, and guess whats going to happen. Educate yourself, learn the faults AND the opportunities, and guess what can happen? A baby bird never knew it could fly until it watched its parents before being kicked out of the nest... Don't be the chick that never leaves the nest.

      Go. Be. Epic!

      Wozy
      PS - my good friends Dan, Paddy and John are my inspiration here at SP and beyond. Thanks fellas for widening my perspective and for all the stories you've shared that have made me wiser. Everyone should be buying these guys drinks...

      9 months ago
  • Hey, Allan. Yes, I think you misunderstood. Over the years here on SP, I've answered the same basic questions from young filmmakers over and over again. Most common, you can't do a budget unless you've done a schedule first. Or why shouldn't I buy equipment instead of rent it? Why can't I mix a film in my bedroom?

    There are many with creative drive, talent, and a drawer full of scripts, but don't know the nuts and bolts of actually producing a picture to completion and beyond. Wozy is generously offering his expertise in getting a film made and avoiding those minefields that happen with every production.

    9 months ago
  • Great response Wozy. I think you've nailed it together with your original post. You've explained very well, without going into every line item that a producer needs to deal with to confirm just what an eclectic art producing is. It's no good going to Wozy though if one does not have the required aptitude or basic wherewithall to use him fruitfully. The real world commercial value of what Wozy offers is some thousands. Giving an end to end mentoring oversight away freely to strangers would only be within the gift of the very rich. But for little more than basic costs it represents a real gift.

    9 months ago
  • Lovely warm words Wozy, we're "not the Messiah, we're very naughty boys", but we do know what the fcuk we're talking about. Looking forwards to that gathering around our proverbial pints!

    9 months ago
    • Very naughty boys... Let's do it. Just gotta figure a way to get Dan on a boat!

      9 months ago
    • @Lee 'Wozy' Warren Hahaha! I've been on the boat! Still waiting for you guys to arrive! My sea legs are legendary! I'll be in the cargo hold if you need me.

      9 months ago
  • I would be interested. Please count me in.

    9 months ago
  • Hello, I'm definitely interested. I've started pre-production for a feature to be shot in Mongolia this August. But would love just to talk! Count me in.

    9 months ago
  • I think this is a great offer and I can see that you're wanting to support up and coming filmmakers, but don't you think it's important that you personally really believe in someone that you mentor? I'm still a couple of years away I think from embarking on a feature, but I'm really aware of trying to court the right mentors for me - of course it would be brilliant to have someone with lots of experience to guide me, but I also want someone who really is invested in me and believes in me too. Does that sound incredibly naive? The extent of what I don't know is scary.

    9 months ago
  • This wasn't an elitist offer to people who I'll cherry pick and choose from. My offer is open to all. Every filmmaker is at a different stage in their career and have different goals and ambitions.

    The role of a mentor is to guide, instill confidence, inform and to impart knowledge.

    What I believe... is that everyone has a fair and equal chance in this industry - given the right guidance, work ethic, effort and luck. That's not to say that I think everyone will make it, will become a rockstar filmmaker or win an Oscar... But there are many levels of grey from failure to success. Getting to one end of an extreme isn't everyone's idea of success.

    I also understand that although I can lead them in the right direction, that doesn't mean to say that they'll necessarily go that way! Some people will always think that they know best. We see it almost every month here on SP. But those people will probably not want to be mentored anyway.

    As I've mentioned before, this is not about training. I'm not training anyone about anything. Want that then go to Raindance or wherever. This is about guidance.

    I don't have to believe in you, necessarily, but I have to be able to help you believe in yourself. And to show you what works and what doesn't.

    You may have made 50+ short films, which by the way is impressive for someone so early in their career and years. I have over 35 years of filmmaking experience in features, shorts, TV drama, animation, VFX, corporate and music videos. I've been the producer and I've been the teaboy. I've worked on huge hundred million dollar films and small freebies. And across all that the one constant is that first time feature film makers lack knowledge, mostly through naivety (and I don't mean that in a bad way), and confidence in the way forward. Very little can fully prepare you for the mammoth tasks that a feature film brings.

    Go. Be. Epic!

    9 months ago