Being successful as an indie film entrepreneur requires you be able to draw from a wide array of tactics from successful and unsuccessful companies. Being a filmmaker, you aren’t a huge fan of reading business books, but probably are a big fan of watching movies. So, in honor of filmmaking entrepreneur month, I thought I’d put together a list of some great a-typical business documentaries I’ve found useful or interesting.
I limited the list to docs on Hulu more as a way of limiting scope while writing. This post is in no way sponsored nor endorsed by Hulu, its parent company or any of its subsidiaries.
1. Fyre Fraud
You’ve probably heard of this one. Yes, I know this is a hot take from more than a year ago. Though it’s still worth a watch (or rewatch) as it shows a doc shows the dark underbelly of influencer marketing and what happens to brands and teams when the entrepreneur doesn’t bother to back up their ego with substance. It’s a fascinating story of what can go wrong if if you have all the vision in the world but no substance to back it up with.
2. Banking on Bitcoin
While the bitcoin craze has largely died out, if you’re at all interested in finance, you should be paying some attention to blockchain and cryptocurrency, even if you’re not too interested in Bitcoin. This documentary can serve as a fantastic primer for you to at least start to understand cryptocurrencies and how they compete with film for investors interested in non-traditional investment markets. That last part you’ll have to extrapolate, but having a background knowledge in all forms of finance is necessary for success as a film producer.
3. A Cam Life
This documentary is a look into the lives of cam models, their clients, and the studios that profit from them. I’m hesitant to recommend something that could be perceived as pure smut on a list like this, but as entrepreneurs, it’s important that we understand the business models of industries closest to our own and how they tend to make money. There’s actually a fair amount we can learn from the way the adult industry monetizes content that can help us better build our own brands and find other methods to monetize our work. This documentary is an enjoyable and eye-opening way to start down those trains of thought.
4. Becoming Bond
This film is a fascinating look into the story of how George Lazenby came to be one of the biggest breakout stars of a decade. It shows how one of the biggest names in Hollywood grew his career through good timing, quick wit, ample charisma, an incredible amount of chutzpah, and not inconsiderable luck. They’re skills we could all learn from, and it’s a very enjoyable watch. I will say that as an EP and pitchman myself, I doubt many of these tactics could work today.
5. The Greatest Movie Ever Rolled
This is a documentary about Doug Benson, (best known for Super High me) making a movie about funding a movie while going out and getting high with people on the road to fund his movie. I’m not sure if it’s more Inception or more Morgan Spurlock, but its something. Aspiring film entrepreneurs should watch it for high minded conversations about film financing.
6. Public Figure
Being an indie media entrepreneur means transitioning into a more public life that you’d probably like. If you’re successful, you’ll end up with a rather large and devoted following. This documentary does a good job of showing you the downsides to that sort of heightened visibility, as well as how the culture of influence affects us all on a macro level.
This is not an easy watch, but an important one. It Chronicles how Harvey Weinstein was able to cultivate a network of protection around himself that allowed him to commit countless sex crimes. It’s an improtant watch for several reasons, the first being that it chronicles the downfall of one of the most influential film entrepreneurs of our time. The second, is that it shows that no one is beyond reproach, no matter what power they hold in hollywood.
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