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I’ve been having an on-going e-mail conversation with one of our readers who is located overseas and it’s bringing up all kinds of interesting thoughts about the concept of insider versus outsider and why one indie movie is a hit and others are left in the dust. So, this reader is wondering whether to shoot his film project in the UK or come to the U.S. and shoot it. His perception is homegrown talent (that is to say, those from the U.S.) has an advantage over those outside the country. The example he is giving is the Kevin Smith feature, Clerks. (Which I personally thought was garbage and walked out of about 3/4 of the way through- but I digress.) Clerks made $3 million because it caught the attention of (then) Miramax head Harvey Weinstein who was an acquisitions fiend. Harvey found finished and semi-finished movies from all over the world, marketed them brilliantly (and extremely aggressively) and made them hits. It was not about whether a movie was from the U.S. or outside the U.S. It was about whether he saw dollar signs when he saw the movie. In addition to many U.S. indie productions he acquired, he did the same thing with ENCHANTED APRIL, THE CRYING GAME, and IL POSTINO, among many others. Harvey isn’t buying like he used to, though there are countless others on the lookout for marketable projects. But you must meet them halfway and give them something they can sink their teeth into. In my opinion (and I would love to hear from you all if you disagree), developing a “brand” for yourself initially (a certain type of feature or short film, web series, script, type of part you pursue as an actor, etc. that is reflective of you) and at the same time, going for ideas that are the most unique/intriguing (poll your friends and family if you can’t decide) is key to attracting representation or acquisitions executives or other powerful “insiders,” as the case may be. Kevin Smith made something very personal and at the same time very universal and stayed in that vein (for the most part) to this day. My advice to my friend from the UK would be that he should make his projects wherever they will be easiest to make (your resources have been developed where you are right now) and try to get a “brand” going. Do it on the cheap at first and see how it grows. Assignment for everyone with creative aspirations: Think about the filmmakers, actors, pop stars, and others who you connect to and look at how they did it. Find something deeply personal that you feel has resonance. Combine those two elements and work in that direction. And if you feel inclined, share what you come up with. ALSO... disagree with what I’ve said? Have other thoughts related to this topic? Please feel free to comment below this post. And share it with others who might be interested. Branding yourself image from Shutterstock
Learn how to land a career you love

Everyone needs to feel their voice is heard and their contributions are important. Something as simple as sharing a drink the last hour of the day on a Friday with the team to recap wins and give praise can build camaraderie within the team.

All of the above are fairly simple to implement but can make a huge difference in morale and motivation. Have any of these tips worked well for young the past? Do you have other tips to motivate your creative team? If so, please share them with me!

Encourage curiosity. Spark debate. Stimulate creativity and your team will be better at handling challenges with flexibility and resourcefulness. Create a safe space for ideas, all ideas, to be heard. In ideation, we need the weird and off-the-wall ideas to spur us on to push through to the great ideas.

Sure, there are a ton of studies done on this, but here is my very unscientific personal take. When team members can make decisions about how they work on projects, they are more engaged and connected to the project outcome. When they see how potentially dropping the ball would affect the entire team, they step up. When they feel like what they are doing is impactful and valued, they are naturally motivated to learn more, and be even better team members.

Rarely does a one-size-fits-all style work when it comes to team motivation. I have found that aligning employee goals with organization goals works well. Taking time to get to know everyone on your team is invaluable. What parts of their job do they love? What do they not enjoy? What skills do they want to learn? Even going so far as to where they see themselves in five years career-wise. These questions help you right-fit projects, and help your team see you are committed to creating a career path for them within the company.

Most designers I know love a good challenge. We are problem solvers by nature. Consistently give yourself and your team small challenges, both design-related and not. It will promote openness within the team to collaborate, and it will help generate ideas faster in the long run. Whether the challenge is to find a more exciting way to present an idea to stakeholders or fitting a new tool into the budget, make it a challenge just to shake things up.