Filmmaking Advice and a $125,000 Crowdfunding Tip

Notes

This is a great interview from a talented filmmaker, Ryan Koo who is also the founder of one of the biggest filmmaking websites online called www.nofilmschool.com. The interview is conducted by Film Courage, I highly recommend subscribing to their channel as they have a ton of great interviews and filmmaking advice. Below are my key takeaways from the interview.

What you will learn:

  • How to pick the right filmmaking gear
  • Renting versus buying film gear
  • Learning the craft of filmmaking from the masters
  • $125,000 crowdfunding tip
  • Tracking performance
  • Getting film financing

How to pick the right filmmaking gear

Don’t worry about getting the latest and greatest tech to shoot your movie. Typically, it’s not your gear that will make or break your movie, but other aspects of filmmaking like having a good script, actors, directors, film marketing, etc.

Gear addiction is someone who is constantly buying the best gear and upgrading their old gear. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as long as you are investing your money with the gear that helps you become a better filmmaker or to tell your story in a specific way. Don’t buy gear for the sake of having the best gear with the illusion that it’ll make your movie look more ‘pro’. It’s not the tools you use, but how you use the tools that matters.

It’s important to research which gear to get since it can possibly save you a lot of money. Ryan Koo mentioned he bought a RED camera by applying for a credit card with 0% interest for 21 months. So, each month he only had to pay $300 to own a brand new RED SCARLET camera under his name. At the same time he would be sub-renting his camera so he could pay off the entire RED camera before the 21 month period to avoid paying any interest to the credit card company. Ryan mentions it’s important to be business savvy and understand how to invest in gear the smart way. He says, “It (gear) should be paying you, not vice versa.”

The reason why Ryan Koo chose to go with the RED SCARLET than all the other options available, is simply that it offered more options, more versatility when it came to shooting in 4K, with editing, the flexibility to shoot all sorts of mediums. Other cameras are much more specialized to certain types of filmmaking like weddings, feature films, documentary, etc. So, it’s important to pick the camera that you believe is the best fit for your goals. Some key questions to ask yourself when choosing a gear is, “How much use can I get out of this? And for how long?”

Renting versus Buying Film Gear

Ryan Koo mentions he prefers to buy gear than rent gear since like most filmmakers, he loves the idea of owning all this great filmmaking gear and having the ability to go out any time they want and film something cool. Rather than, setting up a budget and getting insurance and all that which comes with renting gear. Although, either option is completely fine, it comes down to your needs. If you know you are only going to use the equipment for a limited amount of time throughout the year, then, maybe renting is better.

Learning the craft of filmmaking from the masters

Ryan Koo’s favorite way of learning about the craft of filmmaking is by listening to filmmaker’s commentary of their own films. Stepping into their shoes and seeing things from their perspective. I also enjoy doing this, since I never went to film school. I would watch all the special features in DVDs and Blu-rays, including the commentaries. My personal favorite documentary on the craft of filmmaking has to be the Lord of the Rings Extended Edition DVD/BLURAY set, including The Hobbit Trilogy Extended Edition DVD/BLURAY set. I’ve watched these documentaries so many times and learned a ton from them and also developed an appreciation for all the different areas and artists involved throughout the entire filmmaking process.

LEARN 7 KEY PRINCIPLES USED BY SUCCESSFUL SCREENWRITERS TO WRITE BETTER SCRIPTS THAT SELL!

$125,000 Crowdfunding Tips

What enabled you to achieve $125,000 through crowdfunding? Audience building. Ryan mentioned he would have never asked for six-figures through crowdfunding had he not spent 2 years on building an audience. A lot of filmmakers who see successful crowd funded campaigns believe they can do the same with their own project, but fail to see and understand the amount of time and effort that went into the campaign before they launched it.

How would you launch your 2nd crowdfunding campaign with what you learned in your 1st attempt? Having a team help run the campaign, answering emails, creating videos, etc.

NOTE: To learn more about crowdfunding, check out this book.

Tracking Performance

Tracking time helps you manage time. If you don’t know where you are spending all your time and LITERALLY writing it down on a piece of paper or on your phone or computer, then you’ll never know. By tracking your hours and noting down what you were doing, you’ll know exactly where to tweak your time throughout the day, week, month or year so you can achieve the goals you set out for yourself.

Getting film financing

The options of film financing a feature film with a proof of concept short film:

  1. Don’t publish it online or at film festivals. Present it to private film investors, screen it for them and if they like it, they’ll invest.
  2. Submit it to film festivals, not online. Go through the film festival circuit, hopefully win some awards. And then, hopefully use that buzz and recognition to land investors.
  3. Publish it online. Hope for the best. Use it as a crowdfunding launch to finance your feature film. Attract investors, etc. (This is what Ryan Koo did)

Ultimately, you’ll never know which option is the best for you. You will want to go with the option that will give you the best chance to get your feature financed.

Ryan Koo’s checklist for developing his feature film, Man Child.

  • Write a good script.
  • Does it receive good recognition from places like IFP?
  • Does it get a grant from places like Tribeca?
  • Run a successful crowdfunding campaign to validate interest from an engaged audience
  • Produce a proof-of-concept short film

References

If you found this article helpful, I highly recommend checking out the following books that goes into more detail on how to write a screenplay or directing tips.

Writing Screenplays That Sell

Directing Feature Films: The Creative Collaboration Between Directors, Writers and Actors

Recommended Resources

Filmmaking from the Inside-Out

Crowdfunding for Filmmakers: The Way to a Successful Film Campaign

Film School on Demand – How to Make & Sell Your First Movie

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