How Do You Create Success For Your Film Making Career In 2011?


As 2010 draws to a close, it’s time to consider 2011. What will 2011 hold for me, and for you? Around this time of year, as most people start sloping off into endless Xmas parties and shindigs, I like to hunker down and consider the next year. And the next big project… That always begins by considering what happened in the last 12 months. And I have got to say, 2010 has been both busy and productive for me.

We began 2010 by writing and publishing the Guerilla Film Makers Pocketbook, off the back of which we launched our web based multicamera TV show, The Production Office (and we just passed 1,000,000 viewer minuutes!). We also delved deep into a massive redraft of Rocketboy and rounded off by running the London Sceenwriters’ Festival in October. And we have one more BIG announcement that may happen in December, or in the first few weeks on 2011. More on that in due course.

But honestly, we needed to do have done more.

And so this week I have been plotting with Judy and David.

And in 2011 we are determined to make a feature film.

This will be my fourth feature film. But rather than putting all our eggs into one basket, we are spreading the ‘bets’.

Whiteboard 2 So last Friday we cleared off the white board and wrote down EVERY single project we had, even down to the ones that were simply a great one line pitch. We then started rating them in terms of budget, audience connection, project development, personal passion etc., creating a shortlist of ten or so. We then created a detailed chart, adding more metrics such as ‘package-ability’ (can we create an attractive proposal?), pitch-abiltiy, risk to reward ratio (how much effort did we want to put in balanced with how much we would get back?), cast-ability etc. Finally we rated them on personal passion too.

The results were fascinating and illuminating. For me, by doing this, the process of making tough choices was made very easy.

For obvious reasons, we are keeping the exact results a secret right now, but I can reveal that we have committed to a model that includes developing five projects…

1. A micro budget horror (sub £5k) that is innovative in both story and execution. We will develop the project and execute it next year (should a bigger project not take off).

2. Two low budget films (around £50k) both of which we will create killer campaigns for before taking to Cannes and seeking investment. We will not develop screenplays for these films until we feel confident that momentum is sufficient to warrant the work, but we will have a package that we can present to interested parties.

3. Two ‘funded films’ (which we called ‘projects over £300k’, which could also be several £million depending on finance and cast). One of these is ‘Rocketboy’, for which we will do a further script re-draft in January. The other is a ‘Twilight’ audience horror film called ‘Emo’, a project I have mentioned on the blog before. We will be developing artwork and a detailed treatment for this.

The process we undertook was to help us avoid distraction from all those other ‘great ideas and projects’. They may be great and we will probably revisit them in the future, but right now we need to focus on a business plan for 2011 that includes the most viable projects. Not the projects that we simply want to make.

I believe that creative people are easily distracted by great ideas. I know I am.

And in these days of hyper connection through social media, access to near limitless knowledge and so many free web tools and cheap technology, EVERYTHING seems possible. And so often, we try and do EVERYTHING, which often leads nowhere.

And success lies in project completion.

So consider, while relaxing over Christmas, have a long hard chat with yourself. What do you want to do in 2011? And I mean what do you REALLY, REALLY, REALLY want to do in 2011? Then consider the outcome of that action. Is it worth the effort and cost? If not, consider another project.

Fundamentally, there are no right answers. And all your ideas are probably good, perhaps even great. But success will lie in your ability to FULLY execute a single idea brilliantly and then connect that ‘product’ with the people who will lead to your further success, be it an agent, an audience, a sale, a commission, a broadcaster etc…

Good luck, and be REALLY tough on yourself and your ideas.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author


3 Responses to How Do You Create Success For Your Film Making Career In 2011?

  1. Julie Yeardye December 11, 2010 at 12:05 pm #

    A very inspiring article. I have had those really long chats with myself and given myself few slaps too.
    Goal 1. I’m off to Germany in two weeks to lock myself away and finish my screenplay – which is on track
    Goal 2. Complete rewrites by the end Feb.
    Goals 3,4,5…

    You are so right though, success lies in project completion. Too many people talk a good goal.

    Sounds like you are gonna make 2011 a biggie!


  2. Martin Salter December 12, 2010 at 2:08 pm #


    Just like to say 4 years ago I bought your first book and was totally inspired by the “just do it” ethos you advocated. As a result in 2007 I shot a documentary in the Himalayas which yeilded a £20,000 profit ( not bad for first outing) and in 2008 I returned to shoot a no budget feature film in the Himalayan region of Ladakh in the small village of Tia. We are looking to release it for download and tour it through the mountain villages on horseback. I would love to come an talk to your students at somepoint about how we pulled it off.

    You can see a trailer here:

    We are shooting a UK feature this year in the Surrey Hills for even less than the Himalayan film but will make it look great using the latest small HD cameras.

    Everything I learnt was from your first book and then just doing it. I know what the obstacles are ( no stars, no marketing budget, no distribution) but there are new ways to make films and get them seen and make revenue from them. The big guns will always dominate the multiplexes – but it’s not all about the multiplexes. As Mike Figgis says in his excellent book on digital film making – a cinema is a room with seats and a screen – be that in Leicester Square Odean or a mountain village community centre.

    I am a great supporter of the guerilla method and will continue to embrace it as the technology allows us to compete not necessarily at the multiplex level – but certainly in the newly emerging internet market place.

    All the best

    Martin Salter

  3. Daren Rodway December 12, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    Chris – you are SOOOOOOOOOO right!!

    We (DarenDino Productions) have been planning 2011 since March 2010, we have spent £12K on kit and every night and day we are on Google Chat and using Google docs to work on our pilot for a scheduled May 2011 shoot.

    Our treatment and script has had 30 revisions, changing the script due to believability in storytelling and the assets available to us at this moment in time.

    We agree that pre-production is essential planning for the initial concepts of filmmaking. We have seen so many people fail at this and just upload a shit short film to YouTube only to be publicly slagged off and laughed at.

    We are launching a new marketing campaign for 2011 as we have ‘matured’ in creativity and scriptwriting to get it right – Carol Harrison taught us essential scriptwriting skills which we have built on by researching and constantly questioning every event and dialogue in our scripts till it ‘feels’ right.

    The Guerilla’s Filmmakers Handbook and Pocketbook have been adopted as the DarenDino Production bibles and your Production Office webcast have made us look at ourselves and made us hungry for learning as much as we can.

    We have set a goal for 2011 of filming a period drama for a short film/pilot webisode.

    I agree that success lies in project completion – otherwise what’s the point 🙂


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