Branding Yourself for the Entertainment Business

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

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