Berlinale Highlight #5 – ‘An Action Plan’

A small selection of this year’s Talent Campus panels is now up on their website. You can WATCH THEM HERE.

I need to move on so I’ve decided to conclude my ‘Highlights’ series with my own two-step Action Plan based on this short experience; something I can post up on my office wall.

The following is drawn from the spirit and wisdom I was exposed to while also processing some ideas I’ve had in my head for a while but failed to implement.


1. BE A ‘LOVECAT’ : We need to move away from the selfish and self-centered thinking of ‘I need to make my film’ to ‘We need to make our films’. This happens when we begin to share our ‘secrets’, our wisdom. We need to build and foster communities, online and in-person, to help one another on our individual paths.

The people I was drawn to the most during the Talent Campus were those that shared freely their resources, contacts and advice without feeling they had to hold something back from me. Some even offered to let me sleep on their couch if I was ever in their town.

A while back I read a book by Tim Sanders called ‘Love is the Killer App’. Despite the corny title it had a lot of useful ideas about sharing and encouraging love in the world of business. He recommends sharing your network and sources of knowledge freely with associates and strangers – working hard to build good business-karma without any devious motives.

His reasons and rational for following a strategy of  generosity applies to us Filmmakers as well:

  • You’ll build an outstanding brand. By becoming a knowledge guru, sharing your network, and being a compassionate partner, you’ll differentiate yourself. You’ll be useful, memorable — special.
  • You’ll create an experience. Business is not just about what you know — it’s about whether you can break through the clutter and information overload. When you represent knowledge, opportunity, selflessness, and intimacy, you are not just a smart colleague; you are fun, interesting, and valuable.
  • You’ll get access to people’s attention. The scarcest resource in business is attention. How do you convince people to really pay attention to what you’re saying or to give you advice that you need? People with outstanding brands and people whom others are eager to deal with attract undivided attention. This produces results.
  • You’ll harness the power of positive presumption. Making progress means making change. One of the biggest obstacles to change is getting people to trust you. Businesspeople embrace the power of building relationships with a deep level of trust. Your colleagues will presume that your arguments hold water, that your recommendations are solid, and that your referrals are valuable. They’ll presume that you have their best interests at heart (which you do). This is a powerful advantage.
  • You’ll receive exceptional feedback. There’s one last tough-minded reason to share what you know: You’ll learn whether your knowledge has value. If you are eager to offer people knowledge, they will be eager to give you helpful feedback in return. They’ll tell you which ideas worked out well and which didn’t work out so well. They’ll tell you which contacts were helpful and which weren’t. They’ll keep talking to you. And you’ll keep learning from them. It’s a loop.

2.  STOP WAITING : Once a year invent your own Campus where you lock yourself in your apartment and go through a self-devised curriculum. WATCH DVDs with the commentaries, hit pause, take notes, rewind. Break-down the films of your idols down into the bits and pieces to understand how the atomic shots fit together.

READ actively, with purpose, not just magazine articles but BOOKS. Borrowing is fine but BUY THE GOOD ONES – the ones you’ll be returning to over and over like bibles. Take notes in the margins, highlight, even cross-out what you feel is untrue – TAKE OWNERSHIP OF YOUR KNOWLEDGE.

Youtube is a great resource for interviews with filmmakers – take advantage of it – download interesting videos for later reference.

Keep tabs on online magazines like Filmmaker, Moviemaker, Variety, Screen International, Cineaste, etc.

Subscribe to RSS feeds of  your favorite blogs – comment on their posts and start a conversation with filmmakers more wise and experienced than you.

Get on reputable forums for people who are chasing the same goals as you. ASK QUESTIONS, GIVE ADVICE and even START HEATED ARGUEMENTS over the important and trivial. ENGAGE AND SLOWLY BUILD A NETWORK OF SIMILAR-MINDED ARTISTS.

Constantly be replinishing ‘the well’ – developing your cinematic fluency and expression – improving your knowledge of your craft from folks wiser and further along the journey than you.

In your search of that knowledge and wisdom if you find any resources that might be of help in our own journeys please forward them along to me and I’ll post them up here.

Take care –


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