Financial Planning for the Creative Mind

Hello all,

On Saturday, Our Kind of Awesome will celebrate the one-year anniversary of “Polyphony“‘s release. For those who do not remember, “Polyphony” was the most well-received short film in the Project 12 Film Series, now F10 Films, line-up, having scored a “Best Write of Passage” Short Film Award nomination at the 168 Film Festival.

I am tremendously proud of “Polyphony,” as well as all the twelve films made last year (2014). Indeed, 2014 was a very productive year. However, with great productivity comes great costs.

True, we did not invest as much as some do on their short films. (Some shorts have been known to cost five grand, and beyond.) But we still needed to pay our actors, cover the submission costs for the film festivals we entered, invest in posters and other marketing materials, and feed cast, crew, premiere attendees, and beyond.

There is a certain glamour attached to filmmaking, as there is to a great number of artistic endeavors. But the reality is that art can also a great way to lose money, rather than gain it, if you are not careful. Through proper marketing and mobilization of your fan base, art can be a fun and lucrative endeavor, but it always begins, like a start-up business, as an investment, an out-of-pocket expense that may or may not be recuperated.

Of course, some people have gone the route of crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo to help defray the cost of production. The problem with these sites, although you’re free to try them, is that I have seen a lot of wonderful projects come out from them with little or nothing in return. The experience can be disheartening, so I advise you to approach the experience with caution. Note: If you already have a product ready, be it a film simply needing post-production or distribution funds, it will be a lot easier to succeed in this realm.

With that in mind, I recommend using the resources that you have available to you. Who do you know? What locations do you have access to? What moneys can you pool together? Carefully record those details and write out a plan of how you plan to use them. When everyone is on the same page on the resources available, you will save a lot of time and hassle when heading into production. Do not fret if you don’t have a lot to start off with, we all have to start somewhere. And don’t pretend to have more than you do, credit cards can be wonderful resources when in a bind, but if you rely on them, you can easily find yourself in deep doodoo when your art doesn’t have the financial feedback you were expecting. Personal example: I’m still paying off credit card debts from last year’s series.

When it all comes down to it, you will ultimately have to decide whether the art you are producing is done as a hobby or as a business. The deciding factor is not if you have a company name and/or a business card. The deciding factor is whether or not you are willing and able to make the steps to turn your passion project into a financially lucrative and sustainable entity. Nowadays, artists in various disciplines are finding it harder and harder to make a living in the advent digital age. So, if you are interested in going the distance, perhaps start your project off as a side business and let things grow or die from there. Know that there is no shame in either path. The only shame is doing something not meant for you. Let the haters hate and the mockers laugh. You just do you, and may God richly bless you on your journey.

Sincerely yours,

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