LA Film School

Filmmakers’ Advice to Business Entrepreneurs

As “normal” life has drastically changed in 2020, many people are discovering new ways to make a living. If you’re a recent college graduate looking to start a new business venture, we think you can learn a thing or two from filmmakers. To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a list of five things entrepreneurs can learn from filmmakers in the entertainment industry.

Make your hiring strategy diverse from the get-go

There are many ways filmmaking has failed to support minority groups over the last century. The Washington Post brought this inequity to the forefront in 2016, with its article, “100 times a white actor played someone who wasn’t white.” 

Thankfully, this hiring practice is fading into the past, and more people of color are being cast, as well as people with disabilities. 

Advice to Entrepreneurs:

Before you even start hiring your team, plan ahead to hire a diverse group. Look at gender diversity and ethnic diversity and educational diversity (not everyone needs to be Ivy League). Make your business a safe place for everyone, and then, hire them. 

The more diverse your team, the more diverse the ideas you’ll hear, and you’re setting yourself up for long-term success. According to SocialTalent, research shows that just increasing your gender diversity by one percent will increase your company revenue by three percent. An increase in ethnic diversity increases that same revenue by almost 15 percent. 


Plan to take your business venture one step at a time

A filmmaker would never want to edit sound in the middle of shooting a scene, nor would they want to hire new actors after half the film has been shot. It’s called film production for a reason: It’s many small but important steps that create a whole. Having an organized, step-by-step plan makes all the difference when it comes to achieving a successful end product. Deadlines make it possible to move on to the next step. 

Advice to Entrepreneurs:

In the business world, the same can be said for creating a new product or service. Break things up in a series of steps, or phases, and then your team will know when their expertise is needed and what part of the process they’ll be spending the most time on.


Develop a marketing strategy early

Even before a film is complete, marketing and distribution matters. Trailers, posters, TV spots, digital ad campaigns—all of these elements are part of a marketing strategy that builds excitement for an upcoming film. Launching one campaign isn’t enough. You’ve got to think about the long term to have success. 

Think about the latest movie you’ve seen in theaters (pre-COVID, probably). When did you first hear about it? Was it a teaser trailer on YouTube or in the previews before another film? Maybe it was a poster at the movie theater or an ad on social media. You wanted to learn more, but you had to wait. A few months later, a new trailer. A few months after, that, another trailer, each giving you just a tiny bit more information on what the movie was about. 

Advice to Entrepreneurs:

In the entrepreneurial world, you might call it product development. If you create something fantastic but you don’t have a way to market it, there’s no point. 


Not everyone needs to be in the same room

If quarantine has taught us anything, it’s that we can be anywhere in the world and still get work done with an internet connection. Even in filmmaking, there are options for remote work. 

In a recent interview with Brandon Trost, he talked about the benefits of meeting via Zoom. He said in some ways it was more successful than meeting in person. People had time to think between meetings, they weren’t required to figure it out all at once in person. They could also meet more often and for shorter amounts of time, allowing creativity to flow in between appointments. 

Advice to Entrepreneurs:

With all the technology available, give your team members the option of working remotely if you can. Of course, there’s nothing quite like being together and bouncing ideas off a colleague, but with tools like Slack, Skype, Zoom and Google hangouts, all of that brainstorming is still possible. 

Benefits for you? It cuts costs. And you can hire talent from all over the country, or even all over the world. 


Create a space that encourages free-flowing ideas

When we asked Brandon Trost what the most important leadership qualities are for a director, one of the first things he said was, “The ability to collaborate. It’s not just your idea that’s the best one.” 

Great filmmakers trust their colleagues and crew members. A director trusts his cinematographer to get the right shot, but also to give suggestions on something that might work better or give a different feel.

Really great entrepreneurs trust their colleagues, too. You never know what kind of idea you’ll get from a developer or someone on the marketing team. That idea could be the key to the success of your product. 

Advice to Entrepreneurs:

If you create a culture where collaboration is encouraged from the start, your team will trust each other. They’ll bounce ideas off each other, and then you, as the boss, can choose what works best for the company, just as the director makes the ultimate decision for a film. 

There’s a lot we can learn from each other as entrepreneurs and filmmakers. If you’re ready to take the plunge and start a business that you’re passionate about, take a look at the film industry and what makes a movie successful.

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