How do you get what you want, on time and on budget?

PosterClarity is the key to engagement

Hanging out with winners usually creates a positive effect. It’s a simple tip for success, but so often I see people hanging out with people who are ‘glass half empty’ kind of guys. Don’t do it, it won’t serve you.

A good friend of mine, Mike Mindel, is a ‘glass half full’ kind of guy. And it shows. He is the founder of a very successful internet business called WordTracker, and in his field (Keyword research), he is THE MAN.

Mike is also a film maker, and produced a horror movie called ‘Don’t Let Him In’. I asked him to share just one specific and clear insight… Here’s what he shared.

How to get what you want by being specific!
The best way to get fast results is to be specific about what you want.

I had to get three VFX shots done in seven days or the next phase of the movie wouldn’t be completed.  So I put together a post with the following details… (note, this blog entry is about how to get what you need, not about the actual VFX shots Mike needed, this is just a real world example of how to get what you want).

Mandy Post Subject Line: 3 FX shots needed by Thu 27th Jan ($1,500) for new psychological horror feature

Mandy Post Main Message
Budget: $1,500
Skills: Maya, Shake, After FX or your own packages
Contact: Email address
‘Don’t Let Him In’ is a British psychological horror film due to be completed Feb 2011. You can see more details here:

We’re in the last few days of post production and still need 3 shots finished using Maya/Shake and AfterFX. We have a previous FX artist who has done most of the work, so it’s just a case of finishing off what he did and compositing with 2k plates.

There are two possible routes as I see it: Either a) take Shake/Maya project files (half completed), render against 2k plates and output to DPX or b) do again yourself.

We already have a sales agent in place so this movie will be distributed. See for a trailer.

This is a chance for a decent FX artist to get their work seen worldwide within a month or two and a great credit on IMDB. Budget is $500/shot or $1,500 total. Email xxx if interested asap.

Keywords: VFX, digital FX, CG effects, CG FX, rotoscoping

I posted this on Mandy, and a few others and I got 50, yes 50 responses in 24 hours! Insane!

So I created a spreadsheet, looked at all the reels and gave a score out of 10 for each candidate. Then I ordered the spreadsheet by the score and chose the top 5.

I sent the artists the files immediately (via FTP) and asked them all to assess the project without committing and tell me who could do what. All the responses came back that evening. I then chose the top 3 who could commit to the work, split up the jobs to parallelise the work, agreed the terms & waited for the results.

All VFX shots came back within 7 days just in time for the final grade.

What made this work is how specific I was about the job.

Other things that made it work were:

  • a brief summary of the offer ($1,500 for all 3 shots) right at the top.
  • specific completion date
  • specific skills needed
  • contact details

We’ve had some recent glitches which has delayed the movie by a month (new delivery date March 7th) so we’re using the time to get ten more FX shots done by the same people and we hope our IndieGoGo campaign will raise that extra money.



Thanks Mike. This is really GREAT advice. As the author of The Guerilla Film Makers Handbooks, I usually get an email a day asking for help. Nine times out of ten, I get either VERY short emails that say…

‘Hey, I have an idea for a film, do you want to fund it? It will make millions


‘I am making a film and I need some help. It’s a great film idea and I have lots of people helping, but can you help? Can you call me to discuss what you can do for me? Am not sure about what that is, but I know from your books you know what I am going through. I am sure it will be great!’

Now, I want to help, I really do. But these communications make it hard for me to help. And so more often than not, I delete them. I can only help if I know what the problem is and I don’t have time to engage in a conversation. Nor does anyone else. I might have a chat with you if we are down the pub, but that is a different proposition.

Clarity is the key to engagement.

If you want help, be SPECIFIC about what you need so the person you are asking can say yes or no immediately, or at least asses the workload you are adding to there already overloaded schedule. If they have to really get their head around the offer, they will either say no, or just not respond.

You can see this in movies too.

If the poster, title and genre are unclear, the mind usually rejects it and moves on to the next proposition. Mission Impossible 2… What’s that about? Now I can choose yes or no without having to work very hard.

And so the secret to getting what you want is to be specific. Try it out. You will be amazed.

If you like this post, you may also like…

The Need For Failure In Your Film Making Success Strategy – /2010/02/the-need-for-failure-in-your-film-making-success-strategy.html

The power of the question, and how to ask it so that you get EXACTLY what you need for your film – /2011/01/tyhe-power-of-the-question-and-how-to-ask-it-so-that-you-get-exactly-what-you-need-for-your-film.html

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones, Film Maker and Author




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