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The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Lesson 7 of 17

What To Do When You're There

Francesca Gregorini

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker

Francesca Gregorini

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Lesson Info

7. What To Do When You're There

Lesson Info

What To Do When You're There

And my assistant grant who's here who's you know also this is with an associate producer on emanuel and is now going off to new mexico as a producer on a project of an executive producer that he met on emanuel and I want him to come up and sort of tell you how he got his foot in the door because everyone's got their story and here's grabs um and why don't you tell us about the ideas eso I unfortunately didn't have a beautiful actress to be dating to get me on I had come out of film school is born and raised in san francisco so came home to you know work save up some money and figure things out and started to apply to jobs in l a and get callbacks and say okay you know can you come in for an interview today? Well, you know you're about six hours away from l a you know I could come tomorrow well we really want you to start today and that just kept happening so I had enough money saved up I figured you know go down I could go for a month I find a job great if not time to come back home an...

d re evaluate life so I went down couch served with some friends and then eventually came to two choices a unpaid internship with a really established production company or a paid job working on the espys espn award show so obviously I went with the paid job with the espys very flashy not so flashes the job I got which was packing the gift bags that get given to all the athletes all the presenters I think a camera came and wants to film what we were doing and I was told that please kind of lead on dh that was my first job eso you know, not with a camera not what I had expected but it got my foot in the door and from there they saw that I was you know really dedicated towards packing these bags and took it very seriously so they said you know why don't you come back in the office and work with us for a little bit yeah so I was just temping not even a full time just kind of hay we'll tell you the day here at a time three days here to time on dh then about a week later after that so being back in the office working there for a week with one of their most difficult coordinators who had run through p s just every day was a new one didn't quite work out somehow I stuck they sent out email you know hey, we're just about to begin producing this project which was that at that time emanuel in the truth about fishes we've got a director you know she's looking for an assistant a cz they described it to me low pay long hours great experience s o the next day I interviewed with francesca, which was a very intimidating thing for me because I just come off attempting to then be going in the upstairs office with this director on dh then the day after that we were location scouting for the film s o just like that it went from packing it not even being in l a to packing gift bags to working side by side with the director who is now you know, in the last three years opened up so many doors for me to meet other producers to work on other projects to do so much else but really it was just about saying yes and not limiting myself and knowing that you know, I'm packing a gift bag today so I could do something tomorrow on and that's just what got me in the door and you know, I never I never said no, you know, it wasn't I would get back really it was let's let's do it and you know that you know, it might have been true, but it got me to where I am now and you know, just don't limit yourself in always say yes to even coming in for the interview like, it wasn't like you were just working there and you're like, oh, I can I interview for that, you know what I mean for that yeah just raising my hand to say hey you mind like if I leave my desk for twenty minutes to go talk to this director in case you know I get higher nightmare scene thirty people in grant was the best one you know what I mean but how do you not you know said hey do you mind if I go out you know talk to this person you know it's like yeah so it's like you know the moral of the story is dating actress if you can if you can pack gift bags with a smile and you know and just like you know make your way but I think like I think assisting a director not to puff up the situation or producer somebody really gets you in the co pilot seat you know what I mean? Because for better for worse you know grant has to go through all of it you know the turbulence in this than that and what's going on so really like he sees everything up close and personal and helps me with that I think so it's like you know I think it's you know yeah the one story have on that is I came back to san francisco and I attended some classes through san francisco state and they had a guy come in and just said, you know who's interested in being a director producer and you know a bunch of us raise their hands and he's like all right what's the entry level job to do that if we just kind of like isn't that what you're supposed to tell us and he's like just go do it just go direct do a short go produce go get your friends together do it and actually make it happen because there is no entry level to being a director besides assisting a director that would be the closest thing to it on even that's not really a surefire way to get in but just getting out there and doing it and just finding some way in and that'll open up so many doors from there yeah I mean I think that's just works in life it's like if you show a willingness to the universe like I'm gonna I'm gonna put myself in the line of fire whatever suddenly the universe is like oh ok, well I'll help you a little bit and then you're like you help yourself and it just sort of you know snowballs but it's just like it's not gonna happen if you don't put yourself out there you know what I mean and meet people and sort of start doing that bit of madness um okay, so against that I'm going to go off thank you, you know and there's another story I have of you know, this producer friend of mine casting ellis and nicholas chartier who ended up on selling tenor hall internationally but basically nicholas was a young kid, you know, working as a janitor like euro disney and I came up with like, you know, some saifi you know, movie I'm probably going to mangle the story but it's something like this and, you know, he's living in paris there's a cannes film festival, he probably uses the printers at euro disney to sort of print up a bunch of his scripts like a ship time goes down to gets himself down to can, you know, pays off for charms the bellhop to figure out who's staying in what rooms slips scripts on there, the doors you know, casting ellis is interested in the packages under his story probably thinks it's something that he asked for, but she didn't you know, he only discovers that once he's reading it, but then he's like ten pages in and he's liking it, so he finishes reading it or maybe gets halfway through whatever the case may be the next day he goes to his meeting to pitch whatever he's you know, trying toe push along the person across from him is not interested at all and what he's got he's looking for scifi cashin has just read this kid's you know, this janitors saifi situation and he pitches him that movie which he doesn't own which he doesn't even has never met this person the person loves it buys it says I'll give you you know I think it's one hundred thousand something for this movie so he's a great so he goes back he looks at the phone number on the script he calls this number this number is like literally a pay phone on one of the roads that this kid is is standing by in case somebody calls him he picks it up and he's like you know hey kid what's your name and a soldier script let's me you know what I mean? And that gets this kid from being a general your disney you know, off to l a you know, he's got a one hundred thousand probably, you know, fifty thousand after cassius we just cut and but he's in l a and he's doing it you know what I mean? And he didn't end up being a screenwriter he's probably making a lot more money has ah film, you know, international sales but in any case it's like you just don't know, you know, but having sort of the gumption to sort of, you know, put your stuff out that you just don't know who's going to set eyes on it who's going to respond to it and what's gonna happen, but at least you're like throwing your you know, your hat in the ring and like, you know, so I encourage you to do that and then there's the cash situation on dh that's you know the tricky bit of business obviously if you end up doing television that's not your responsibility because the studios paying for it but if you're doing an indie film that's sort of the biggest and, you know hurdle to get through I mean now the good news is that films cost less and less and less to make on and you just need to, like, figure it out with ten or hall we just lucked out because we had written that pilot um because town and I had met a brown and that's in private in through the island somehow when we sold the pilot to paramount, that news made it to some brandon like providence gazette or some thing back in rhode island's because it's like, you know, rhode island girls make good or whatever. So that was there some location scout read that article thiss location scout happened to be friends with a very wealthy newport person who wanted to get into the film business. S o we got some random call from this location scout saying, hey, what's going on with that pilot situation like with private situation is gone because the network fell apart or, you know, etcetera she's like, well, do you still want to make it? And yeah, and so then we sort of got into talks and she ended up through that connection, you know, becoming, you know, the producer on the film and financing the film that's a rare situation that's probably not going to happen that's just what happened tow us, you know what I mean? But just that bit of news, you know, ending up in some gazette ending up in, you know, her living room sort of connected everything but it's like the fact that we wrote that pilot and sold it and it failed, it didn't matter because it put the wheels in motion of us getting money for a feature two years down the line, you know, so it's like it's just knowing that failure is not failure it's just like that door didn't open, but probably for a good reason that you can't see now and you will see further down the line, you know, and then for emanuel sort of getting cash for that one it's just, you know, and you think like, oh, I've already made one movie right and went to toronto and, you know, we discovered rooney mara and now it's going to be super simple and it's not it's like nobody cares at all, and you're kind of back to square one all over again, you know? And, you know, finding money for emmanuel wasn't that lucky it was and you know, getting you know, someone to commit ten thousand here and then we got lucky and got one hundred thousand there and you know, literally their contract of you know, the investors of this movie I think there's like thirty investors in the movie which was, you know, legal nightmare out creating with the waterfall of money but it's like, you know, I found myself in really crazy situations like in a basement in martha's vineyard you know, doing a power point presentation to sort of, you know, wealthy wives of people like, you know, trying to convince them to give me money to make this crazy psychological you know, drama and it's like, you know, and sometimes you just think like, wow really really lost the plot but it's like the bottom line is you've got to get some fuel for your car and that's the cash for your movie so you gotto go out there and get it and just like, you know, it took me a long time it's like my most hated part of indie filmmaking is sort of finding that money I mean now there's like, you know, crowd funding and indy gogo and other things I haven't tried yet, but I know you know, definitely work for other people and you know, but it's just it's a necessary evil of you know of the situation because without it, you not making a movie you know I mean other people I know have made sort of teasers like they have enough money to sort of scrape together to sort of do kind of what the trailer would be of this movie and that sometimes helps you know in addition to the creative package and this that and the other but at the end of day even with emmanuel I was told it like oh you can't make this movie for under you know x amount of dollars I just you know after I don't know how long it was like I'm getting a sore back just thinking about how trump attorney was to get money but I had maybe one fifth of the money that several professionals in the industry said you cannot make this movie for under this amount of money I had one fifth of that money and I just said you know what I'm going to just make this movie because I got to make this movie and at the time you know I had you know, maybe for other friends of mine in the same position we all had scripts we all whatever most of us had made in one movie already and you know and and the ones that waited to get the right amount of cash to make the movie I have still not made their movie you know what I mean and I think that's a really important point it's like just set yourself a date by june first whatever the hell that you pick, whatever cash I have that's the movie on making and you adjust your script and your whatever and you make that movie because you got to go at some point you've got pull the trigger and something that I did, which is, you know, really frowned upon in the industry was I made my movie like and I didn't have money to actually edit my movie, you know what I mean? So I just used up all my cash to make my movie and then sort of, you know, with the editor we just put together, you know, sizzle riel of like, this is the movie I got that I cannot make because I don't have any post money and with that we found the funds to make to post it, which you know, is not really recommended but it's just, you know, you kind of have to make those decisions along the way, but what I find is once the train is leaving the station, people jump on, you know what I mean? So once you get that ball rolling, it will just it just happens, you know, and you just kind of have to have that that faith I'm so you had a question, you have to have some sort of preliminary budget while pitching yes, that is that it's a great idea? I mean myself I found it. My preliminary budgets tend to be sort of pie in the sky a little bit, you know, I'm like I have need x amount of dollars and I never have gotten x amount of dollars, so it's just, you know, you have to know that that's like, you know, that's what you would like to get and know that you probably are not going to get that and that's fine, is it good to have to show we're talking to just a personal I mean, I think it depends if they ask for it and you have it that shows that you're like, really, you know, prepared? I mean, usually I just sort of mentioned what the figure is, you know, like, I think, you know, we could make this movie between x and why, you know, so they have a general sense of, like, what are we talking about here? We're talking about one hundred thousand or two million or where are we and it's good that, you know, sort of where you are, but it's, like, you know, I think just like the one page, you know, I don't think you need to do like, the forty page budget of, like, craft service will be this and whatever but I think like yeah I think that that's a good thing to have I mean I never presented but it's like you know, if I'm in discussions with someone that looks like is really seriously thinking about funding my movie then we get into that you know what I mean but I don't think you need to share that just is a discussion point with someone who's expressed zero interest in making your movie but it is it's good that you that you have it you know I have it for olivia you know what I mean it'll change a thousand times because if it's shot in the us it's going to be this if it's shot in europe it'll be that and you know but it's always good to have it because then you can always you have the ten point you can always switch around the numbers but you're like you just try to stay one step ahead and that's definitely if you have access to a line producer or you're good at that then that's great I'm sorry did you yeah what was the budget at the end for emanuel and did you did you have to change the script significantly given that new revised budget or did you just start production with that money and bring mohr in? You kind of answered that question with, you know, doing an additional round of fundraising just proposed right? I mean I think like you did have to adjust it somewhat but I mean azul see when moving on I'm going to show you sort of this underwater sequence that we shot which is kind of incredible that that was shot for sort of you know, a movie that was under a million bucks but it's like you know I'm pretty stubborn so is really hard for me to let go of a lot of yeah and so I thought for that and I thought for like, you know, a quarter of the budget going to that I was like that has to happen that's you know, the yes the resistance of the movie that's what's going to make this movie not just like oh it's another little indie it's like it has some wings and breath and like it's going toe do something so you just have to know what you're unwilling to let go of and you know and then it just you know, the limitations force you I think ultimately to make a better movie because you're going to have to cut out scenes that aren't doing anything anyways and kind of when you're looking at one of these scenes that's got to go he realized, oh, obviously this has got to go because it's probably going to go in the edit room anyway so you know what I mean? And so it like it teaches you just to be good and then with, you know, really also what you can do with a good cinematographers try to combine things or use one side of the room for this location and you flip it and now you're somewhere else you know and like, you just have to get, like, super creative about the execution of it, you know, that's what I always look to first rather than like, oh, god let's hack up my script that I've just really worked really hard on and that is kind of a domino of card, so you can't just be pulling shit out and then hoping that it's still standing probably won't be so you just try to creatively with your head the department figure out how we're gonna do this, you know, and make it work like that, you know? But I really try to keep my job's to stink like is a writer, I just write what I want to write, I don't think like, oh my god, how am I gonna do that? You know what I mean? Because if I did then my world would become smaller because I just get scared I'm never going to get enough money to do that, and that seems really difficult, so that may not set myself up for that I just write what I want to see and then e having myself to direct it I'm like how the hell am I going to do this? But then you just figure it out you know you and your heads of department and your producer and everyone gets super creative about how we're going to pull this off you know? So I'm also curious did you you were raising money sort of piecemeal from random investors for emmanuel was a lot of that those contributions contingent on talent that you had already attached or did talent come on after the fact and were they willing to accept maybe like a little bit less money than what they were used to because they like the project of one hundred percent I mean emanuel was all like people just love the script and they were willing to do it for scale you know what I mean? I don't think jessica beal's ever worked for scale not even at the start of her career. So it's like you know, people just did it because they love the project they believed in it they wanted to do it you know what I mean? So you have to have strong material to track you know that kind of talent and yes, the investors you know a lot some I had other cast attached to it before when that fell apart I lost some of my money because that money was attached those specific you know, talent and s o it's like you're just going to have to be prepared for that you know and so investors will stick with you because now they've fallen in love with the project or they're okay with the substitution and actors and some won't be and it's just like you know constantly evolving thing like that you know sure last part to this sort of a bunch of question but how how did you make those sort of connections with these just random you know, money to people who happen to you know have the fanciful idea that they were going toe get into the film mystery behind you just kind of have it out there and you kind of connect the dots you know what I mean like you know you start we'll also keep in mind through emanuel had already made ten or hall you know what I mean so I was kind of in a better position because I'd already gone tell these film festivals I'd already made my diligent list of like I met so and so at this festival and so and so at that festival and by then you know I had like, you know, a new attorney and you know on a manager and all these people so then it becomes you know then they reach out and then you go back to your list so it's like it kind of feeds you know, feeds itself you know, somewhat

Class Description

Independent filmmakers are often called on to not only write and direct, but to produce their projects. Wearing all three “hats” can be a daunting, yet inspiring proposition. In The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker with Francesca Gregorini, you’ll learn easily-applied strategies for balancing the demands of doing all three very unique jobs.

Francesca’s work has been officially selected by the Toronto Film Festival and premiered in the US Dramatic Competition at Sundance. In this class, she’ll discuss both the advantages and challenges of producing a film you’ve written and will direct. 

You’ll learn:

  • How to decide when its ‘right’ to produce your script and when to develop it further
  • Which "hat" to wear at what time from start to finish
  • Personalized paths for fundraising, production, and distribution

Francesca will explore the processes of writing, directing, and producing and how leading the charge can make these three unique perspectives more efficient, productive, and artistic.

The Self-Sufficient Filmmaker will help you develop best practices for all aspects of indie film production and inspire you to take control of your own destiny as a filmmaker. 



I think there were TONS of marvelous takeaways, here, in this course. The examples she presented about Scene Cards, the hardships, and the beauties-- all of it was very beneficial information for aspiring filmmakers. However, the verbal hesitance; "um", "you know", "uh", "you know what I mean", "or whatever"-- that started to get really distracting really quickly. But the course and the overall purpose of the lessons, that was great!


The good - Lots of helpful info about pre-production, things to consider, and working with actors. The not-so-good - Not exactly self-sufficient. If you were to cut out all the " know..." clutter, the course would probably be about 30 minutes shorter.