Creative OutputThe film industry is a minefield today, and the combined pressures of imaginative script creation and successful marketing leaves many of us feeling tired and discouraged. To eliminate the potential for burnout during the long and stressful process of film creation, keep these essential points in mind.

Mental Health

Usually considered an afterthought by busy people, mental health actually belongs at the top of your list of priorities. After all, high stress leads to a lowered immune system and brain fatigue – neither of which is conducive to productive script writing. To avoid physical and mental illness and to keep your creative powers functioning well, keep these daily goals in mind when you wake up every morning:

  • Take care of your body as well as your mind. Take at least five minutes every morning, if not more, to meditate or do yoga. Consider Hatha yoga, which is a form of meditation in itself, as a positive method of centering yourself before you dive into your hectic day.
  • Remember that others experience similar difficulties. You are not alone when you feel overwhelmed by the complexities of film production. Especially during distribution, many filmmakers acknowledge that their creative abilities suffer due to their focus on the business aspects of production. Don’t beat yourself up if you find that your creative output suffers during this time period; remember that you’re experiencing a universal problem that will eventually pass.
  • Don’t forget why you made the film. You made certain goals when you began this project. Don’t lose sight of them during the creation or distribution process.
  • Step away from time to time. Whether you paint, play an instrument, play a sport, or do jigsaw puzzles, keep hobbies as a regular component of your life. They are the fuel that keeps your creativity alive.

Time Management

Proper management of your time could be considered a subset of mental health. After all, the chaos of an unorganized or overbooked schedule will easily cause you to lie awake at night. Therefore, don’t forget two important structuring rules when you organize your daily planner:

  • Set aside time every day to be creative. Choose the time of day that you find yourself to be in top creative form. If you’re a morning person, set aside two hours between breakfast and lunch when you refuse to check or answer emails. If you’re a night owl, turn your phone off from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. Over time, this schedule will start to feel like second nature.
  • Decide in advance when you will be finished. You know that you’ll have difficulty being creative during the release and distribution of your film. Choose a particular date when you plan to switch gears and refocus on your artistic side – and stick to it!

Audience Awareness

Both during the creation and the distribution process, don’t make the mistake of forgetting your audience. Assuming that you’re not a maniacal egotist who will spend his days locked up in a room watching his own film over and over, you want to create a film that can reach and interest as many people as possible. Connection with your audience is key to your film’s success. Keeping this in mind will put the rest of the process into perspective.

  • Utilize the theatrical experience. Stop thinking of film watching as a passive experience. Create events surrounding your film. Change the viewing experience from an individual to a communal one. For example, set up a specific place and time for your film screening. Make it feel like a unique experience shared by everyone in the audience.
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of marketing. The world is full of potential audience members for your film, but they will never watch it if you haven’t convinced them to do so. Too often, big budget movies flop because they advertise to the wrong demographic. Independent filmmakers are even more likely to make this mistake.. You don’t need to change your script to match a market; however, you should take the time to consider who will want to watch your film. Market to them.

Marketing

Many filmmakers incorrectly assume that the hard part is over once they have finished making their films. In truth, making the film is only half the work. After all, what is the point of making a film if no one ever sees it?

  • Budget for the marketing stage. Prepare to spend half of your financial resources and time on the marketing stage, and budget accordingly before you begin. It’s better to make a cheaper film and have the money to reach your audience than to make an expensive film that no one will ever see.
  • Don’t automatically follow the studio model. The studio model of distribution is meant for big-budget films, and it won’t necessarily work for smaller independent films with a unique target audience. Think strategically about how  you will spend your marketing funds.
  • Incorporate alternative media. These days, filmmakers would be remiss not to make use of digital media. Computers, tablets, cell phones, and gaming consoles bring stories to consumers in a variety of interactive ways. Don’t fight this new media, or you risk going the way of the dinosaur. Your story may begin with your film, but it won’t end there. Guide your creation through this new terrain, taking advantage of the distribution and marketing opportunities that social media and multiple platforms offer your film.
  • Merchandising! Merchandising! What other products can you produce and sell in relation to your film? Think about books, toys, video games, food, or other consumer products that can double as film advertisement.
  • Protect your rights. Companies are going to try to buy the full rights to your work, regardless of their intentions of pursuing them. Be aware of what you are giving away, and make sure you are compensated fairly. Don’t be afraid to protect yourself.

Creating Community

Filmmaking does not occur in a vacuum. Network with colleagues as you navigate this tricky terrain. You will find having a professional support system to be an advantage that will help you in all the other areas listed– protecting your sanity, managing your time, considering your audience, and marketing your film. In particular, a strong network of colleagues will aid you in these two key ways:

  • Get new ideas about distribution and marketing. Be willing to share your own experiences with others, too. You never know when a colleague will make a suggestion that can open your film up to a whole new audience.  The collective experience of a support system can fuel new and exciting ideas that may help you solve perplexing problems.
  • Don’t underestimate the value of emotional support. As I mentioned earlier in this article, you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed by the demands of filmmaking and marketing. Sometimes, a simple commiseration session with others in the same boat can help to energize and reinvigorate. You may even find that colleagues have wise counsel that you can follow about how to deal with the stress of the filmmaking business.