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Connecting with People

Lesson 6 from: Producing An Independent Film From The Grassroots Up

Michael Gottwald

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Lesson Info

6. Connecting with People

Next Lesson: The Script

Lesson Info

Connecting with People

Going to start talking about the beginnings of a project, you know, the development process for lack of better word, how you get from the very beginnings of an idea with somebody to a actually going into production, connecting with people, first of all, that that sounds a little network, he and sort of like a speak and sort of like language that I don't love to use, but what we mean by connecting with people here is connecting with artists like connecting with directors, connecting with the people who you want to be working with, um, that's, that's, sort of the start of it, right? That should be the beginning part of the process on dso, you know, the number one most important thing, and that sort of situation is, does are you guys speaking the same language? Does this excite you? Um, you must be the beginning. This is the lesson is about connecting with people. The first thing as I was saying is you must believe in the project, as I said, producing very hard and it takes up time and en...

ergy, and if you don't believe in it, then and you don't believe in this, then it's not worth you taking on now, believing in something can mean a bunch of different things you don't necessary, it's not like, for example it could be a personal thing, right? This story could mean a ton to you this director has found a way to talk about something and tell a story about something that you've always wanted to get out there and that personally feel connected to it and that's great or it could be a story that has nothing to do with you but you just like the challenge of making the film you know? I mean, I can't for example I can't relate a lot personally to hush puppy right? I don't live in like a storm ravaged southern we will now I do sort of no but I don't live in, you know, like in her kind of environment but there were creative challenges, the making of beasts and and a belief in ben's vision that was something that got me interested, right? I say, you know, the the thing that we were all turned on by was ok, we know that ben can pull off an amazing we know that it'll be sheer chaos in the actual production, but as we saw with gloria tse he's going to make something that is like actually really emotional and um I don't know it just kind of makes you wanna lift out of your seat and I don't know just something that we that makes you want to stand up and clap at the end of the day and so we knew that, and we also knew, like, the challenge of this film is like an exciting one, let's tell a big, big story with a small budget let's, let's try to do things, you know, with this film that you don't, you can't normally do with that kind of that kind of budget. I mean, you just don't have kind of special effects like that or you don't depict like, big monsters or you don't work in like, um, you don't create a world that looks like that, usually on a on a small budget, and but that challenge was was exciting, and if you're not excited by that challenge, then you don't want to work on that project. Um, you know, when you're meeting with somebody, I think there has to be a kind of mutual understanding about some things. What is what makes the project exciting that you have to both agree on what that is? What will success look like for the film? So if they're like, I want the success of this film because I'm making my film about let's say, um child soldiers in uganda, I what success looks like to the director might be that a bunch of child soldiers in uganda see the film right? Your definition of success might be I want everybody to watch this film and if the directors like well that's not really this is important I'm making this movie for them and you guys are on different pages that's fine, but you should just you know, parse that out and maybe not work together um let's see, uh, you know, expect the same expectations about how you want to pull it off if you meet with somebody and you like their script and then you say ok, well, you know, I know that you're the director and you're just sort I've started to creatively think about this, but how do you imagine us in the most vegas of terms? How do you imagine us kind of pulling this off or doing this? And they start talking about, you know, like, having a bunch of honey wagons and having, like, uh, you know, hair the finest hair, makeup and wardrobe and had bean and, you know, you're looking at this year like I thought we were making a five hundred thousand dollars movie you're on different pages, you know? I mean, like that if they have basic ideas about how to execute it, that air off from what you thought of then should certainly take the time to check yourself and your own assumptions, but also they might be just often because you don't want to be working with them, um and, you know, let's, hear the picture like I said, find the people that you do want to work with. So, um, we're talking about this a little bit before, but film societies, our good place to find creative collaborators, your own town, film side or like I was saying, you know, in a more kind of just professional sense, you khun, reach out to what films they're currently happening already local film group's local gear houses usually know what's going on? Um, you know, I don't know, I keep going back to book clubs, and I don't know why, but I guess if I have a fantasy of being and I've never been in a book club, and I always like, I like the idea of being in one, but maybe just cause I never have any time to read it would make me read local production houses, uh, just, you know, like, finding the people in your in your neighborhood, that air doing this sort of thing at centers that makes sense there is, for example, no ca is in new orleans, like after, well, actually, the high school for kids who are really interesting, the creative arts it's, about four blocks away and you know if I was in new orleans I would want to be talking to those kids I mean, I am in new orleans and we have worked with that with no good before but if if I were one of you I would say oh, I'm just a few blocks away from this I wonder what I want to talk to the film professors there or the professor you know, the teachers there I'd want to talk to the kids you know, when we when we look for interns for our company the u n o university of new orleans has been a real resource delgado community college you know and these universities there are great even if you're not a part of them you know there there's their resource is there there people interested in making things so um getting on somebody's radar um find somebody who you admire locally uh you know and never underestimate the power of like, just getting in cold contact I know it sounds crazy, but the worst thing that can happen is that they're not gonna respond to you so and I say this is somebody who I get some e mails that I don't respond to from people who are just interested in both but it's like I was them but I'll tell this story there's a person I work with them no a stall he loves in new york city there's a bakery called city bakery and they have the best pretzel chris spots that you've ever had noah reached out to them ah year ago or something he was about to leave new york to come work with us in new orleans and he said you know, I don't know why he did it but it sort of makes sense he just e mailed them and just said I just want to let you know that like you're pretzel carson is the best thing that I've ever put in my mouth like in my whole life I love it so much of my day would not be complete without a pretzel kristen and I'm going to miss it so much now that I'm leaving new york they responded to him it was very articulate was more poetic and articulate that what I just said but they responded to him and say thank you know you're you're not really means a lot to me as you know I'm happy to send you and your new company some pretzel chris aunts down in new orleans they worked right so sometimes just being effusive and being and exactly what we were talking about before sharing your story this is why I'm interested in this can work you know people can respond to it you find a personal way in you know the worst e mails of the ones that don't feel emails or contacts whatever the ones that don't feel personal at all they're like dear so and so I have an excellent psychological thriller that I think that you would be perf look for it it's like you don't you know you don't know who I am or what what I'm interested in and that's something we'll talk about later but you know, just cold to make it personal if you're gonna if you're gonna do the cold thing um I also think that you know, asking there's always like can we have coffee and everything and at the end of the day you know that might the person might now take you up on it but at least you sort of made the asking again the worst thing that can happen is they said no um and also talk about what you could offer them maybe there's a there's a maybe if you're a director or producer but they've got a project going on where they really need a production office coordinator or they need a transportation coordinator or they need something like that you know, make that known that you're available to do that um because if I'm a producer and I'm meeting up and coming producer and all they talk about is how they want to produce that I don't know how we're going to be able to work together because I already sort of have the people that I already work with that's just I thought um exactly we went through this but to rehash the there must be a mutual understanding what makes the project exciting what success will look like for the film and expectations of the cast and crew like how in other words how are you how are you going to pull this off let's say it's a very low budget film and there's they're talking about they've never made a movie before and they're talking about getting really name actors in it then yeah you have to sort of games them about like well how is that gonna happen like how let's be really let's talk about what we can actually achieve if if that's the case and you only want to make this name actors like let's come up with a strategy toe to actually make that happen or let's assess that you're a little crazy and I don't want to work with you um so uh so yes so that's what we're talking about here now as far as the taking action this and now talking to the everybody at home and also here you know here's a challenge for you can you connect with two people this week that you're interested in collaborating with by collaborating they don't need to be directors or other producers just anybody who might have any idea of a story or a creative thing that you want to get involved in um put it on your calendar and and see how you're going to reach out you know put it I am a slave to my google calendar if I say if I put something in my group, allen says beat somebody today I will meet that person today that day because my calendar told me to um can you go toe one one meeting of aa book club or a film society or a film group meeting or something to try and meet new people this month? It's ah yeah, I think these were the good first steps to try and if you feel a little isolated you feel like you want to be making creative stuff you don't have people around you and this is this is some good stuff to do as a first step um okay and well well before we kick it yeah like why don't we talk to talk to everybody here? Does this seem feasible to you guys? Do you do you have places in mind if I just think we already started talked about this last last segment, but do you have places in mind that you know that you could go to people hear you collaborate with each other so you already have that one? But yet with any other ideas now about how you can take action I'm a sucker for craigslist I go on craigslist for postings and searching for other people that have projects that need help with yeah um one thing is just kind of reconnecting to friends already have that, you know, we work together, we may just be on set and see each other once every couple months, but just sitting down with them and saying this is what I'm working on, this is what I want to do and just kind of dreaming together in that sense, and I don't know kind of re inspiring each other by that, just not even anyone knew just people already know, yeah, I like to keep an eye on video um, during my spare time, we'll just kind of scroll through staff picks of things like that and, you know, I have a pinterest where I, you know, keep track of videos that represent, you know, various looks or techniques that I'm interested in, you know, kind of keeping short list of, you know, you know, creatives that were involved with those projects and then the sort of the people that I will reach out to and trying to develop a project in the future. Ah, so I am actually putting on a screening at the castro theater in a month for scary cow. So basically, any scary cow members that have made a movie I actually produced one that will be premiering called many supreme, you can go. To the screening and meet people you can go to. Basically, our website has events. We have mixers once a month, and I'm throwing a tine of info sessions this month because we're about to have a huge pitch meeting. So anyone in the bay area that's a really easy action plan for you right now, way, because we will keep you busy, that's, for sure. S o, we have people in the chat room jumping in shades of gray, says, I really want to get started with my oral history project. My goal this weeks to put together a tentative schedule. I don't have time to go out and actually do this this week, but the schedule is the first step. Thank you so much, michael, for this idea to get me going.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 1.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 2.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 3.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 4.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Call Sheet - Filled Out.xls
Michael Gottwald - Sample Low Budget Documentary Excel Budget Total Budget.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Sample Low Budget Documentary Excel Budget.xls

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

A top-notch presentation on indie film making. I learned a lot from this course which I hope to soon put into practice as I'm about to embark on my first indie film - as a screen writer for the first time out, but eventually I hope to write, direct, and produce my own film. Very easy to follow the presentations in this course, and the handouts I received when I purchased the course are quite useful.


Such a great course! Being an indie "Grassroots" filmmaker in the middle of three projects, I found what Michael shared to be very valuable. The way that he described the different aspects of producing and illustrated with examples was very clear and fresh. The course really opens you up to examine your own processes, what works / what doesn't and stirs up some new ideas on how to move forward. Thanks CreativeLive team for making the class happen!


This is a tremendous introduction to grassroots filmmaking. Michael takes you step by step through the various elements of film production and offers those so inclined a cursory understanding of what is required. Because filmmaking is a creative pursuit, the direction the individual filmmaker takes from there is entirely up to each. I would highly recommend this course to any one starting out in filmmaking. Well worth the cost. David W. King, Michigan Movie Magazine

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