The power of the question, and how to ask it so that you get EXACTLY what you need for your film

ListeningHow do you get people to do what you want? What you need?

Why do most people fail to get that thing they want or need?

Answer? They don’t ask!

It’s that simple. At least some of the time (actually I would say most of the time).

How many times have you had the conversation where a friend says ‘why don’t you ask?’ and you mumble some excuse but in your head you are thinking ‘I am sure, I KNOW they will say no, so I won’t ask…’

Stop there just one minute! You just said that you are ‘sure‘? That you actuallyKNOW’?

You are certain of something that has not happened?

The truth is we base these assertions on a guess. And that guess is based on past experiences.

So if you are declining to ‘ask the important question’, the past experience that you are connecting this ‘important question’ was probably a bad one. And so we haul that big old ugly past and dump it right in the present and the future, right where it can shut us down.

You say to yourself, ‘the last time I asked I got a bad result, so I won’t ask again…’

And so we go through life making decisions for other people, sometimes MASSIVE, LIFE CHANGING DECISIONS. We deny them the chance to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ because we make that choice for them. We make it by NOT ASKING in the first place.

OK, I hear you say, ‘but that’s experience, it protects me’.

Sure, but is it serving you?

In reality, we need experience to help us avoid being eaten by a bear, or to fall into a ravine, or to learn what berries are poisonous etc. But in modern life how often does that happen on the high street?

Why is it that something in the past, say a few unkind words, or a negative inflection, or a rude reply, can stop us dead in the present and destroy an amazing future?

As human beings, we have a constant conversation going on in our heads, assessing the world around us, what people have said, what they might say next, why are they looking at me like that? what does he mean? And that chatter is so loud, so dominating, so fearful of failure, of ridicule, or being wrong, or of looking stupid… that more often than not, it shuts us up.

It certainly does for me when I allow myself to get too much into my own head.

Instead, consider a new approach.

Be in the moment. Be in the present. Not in the past or future. Not judging. But just listening and asking questions. And really listen (right now that chatter in your head may well be telling you that you DO listen very well! See how you can’t stop the chatter?) Be with the person you are speaking with. And ask your question. Be direct. Don’t manipulate. Don’t worry about the outcome. Don’t worry about what they may think

You see they are as worried as you are.

Coffee Whether you are asking for money, asking for free kit, asking an actor to read your script… or asking that amazing person out for coffee (my favourite)… In their head they will be asking what does this person want? What are they going to say? What are they going to think of me? They are also off in the past and dragging it into their present and their future.

So, be in the present, free of past failures, and ask the question… ‘Can I…?

I promise you, this technique will get you consistently better results.

Please share your successes on the blog for others to see, it will inspire them also.

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author

4 Responses to The power of the question, and how to ask it so that you get EXACTLY what you need for your film

  1. Mike Barnes January 14, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    Zen film making! Great stuff.

  2. Simon Van Der Spoel January 14, 2011 at 1:25 pm #

    I completely subscribe to the concept of “Ask the question, what is the worst they can say, no? Then I’m no worse off than before, give them the opportunity to say yes” and by doing so, I have advanced my career and projects! My first project ever was narrated by Australian acting royalty purely because I asked him to be involved. He narrated it for free! The doco was picked up and broadcast on the History Channel. My current project is a concept trailer for a feature film I’ve written, and I wrote on my blog that my wishlist of music for the trailer would one of the biggest Australian rock bands and their award winning song. A specific song. I embedded the film clip from youtube, and the manager of the band, followed the embedding, and told me to find the management online. I contacted them, and they said they were willing to be involved in my concept trailer. I asked the question, can I have a license for that song at a low budget rate. I got the license. I asked the question of the department of defence, and got a no. I asked the same question a different way, with more work on my behalf and they said yes.
    I’m filming the footage for the trailer right now. I will use that trailer to ask the question of financers, of A-list actors, of crew.
    Because my experience is, they might just say yes.

  3. Don Macnab July 16, 2013 at 5:40 pm #

    It’s amazing how hesitant we can be about this – very British – but this is also a business with many closed portals and fearsome gatekeepers – “no unsolicited manuscripts” etc. Still, it’s one way of sorting the wheat from the chaff. As you know from your own experiences, Chris, persistence and bullet proof skin are two of the greatest assets you can have in this business.

  4. Chris July 16, 2013 at 5:56 pm #

    I could not have put it better Don, be bullet proof and while its a serious business, don’t take it too seriously

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