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Ben Yennie: Why Business is NOT the Enemy of Art.

If you spend time at filmmaking events, art schools, or on facebook groups, you’ll quickly find that there are A LOT of filmmakers that are very anti-business.  The fact of the matter is that if you’re to be successful in film, you need to know more than a little bit about business as well.  Still, many believe that there should be a wall between the creative side of the film and the business side.  While there is some sense to this for filmmakers (and even more for journalists) that involve reasons that are well beyond the scope of this article, it’s also important to note that even when they are separated, business is not the enemy of art when it comes to filmmaking.  Here’s why

1. Good Business helps maximize the impact of your art

No sane business person working in the entertainment industry would ever tell you that quality doesn’t matter.  Great films sell better and tend to make more money.  However, filmmakers would be equally foolish to assume that your film will simply be found if you make it well enough.  While this may have been true at one point, it’s far from true in this day and age.

A good filmmaker builds their presence and their brand on social media from an early stage of their career.  They’ll also ally themselves with people who are better marketers and better financial analysts than themselves.  These people will help you build your brand and help your art be viewed as widely as possible.  

2. Good business lets artists make more art.

Most artists just want to create more work.  But just because they’re working doesn’t mean they’re getting paid.  Good business lets filmmakers focus on telling more stories, as it helps them create a more steady income out of their work.  Without people helping the movie make money, then the artist would either have to find a way to help the movie make money or find another way to keep a roof over their own heads.  

3. Good business helps you find patrons for your art.

Without customers, no business can survive.  The same is true for artists.  If no one is buying your work, you’re going to be hard pressed to make enough money to survive.   Luckily, good marketers will be able to help your work find the people who will be most likely to buy it.  This helps to reinforce both points 1 and 2, but it also can help you to do even more.  

4. Good business lets artists make bigger projects

If your work is generally making money, you can often scale up to bigger projects.  If you get to be known as someone who pays their investors back, you might soon find that you’re not only getting repeat business from your investors but that they’re starting to bring their friends.  If you don’t make your investors their money back, then you’ll soon find it hard to keep making the kind of projects you want to make.

The same is true on a smaller scale for your community of followers.  As your community and your brand recognition grows, you’ll be able to make bigger and bigger movies as your crowdfunding base gets bigger and bigger.  

5. Good business can help hone an artists vision

There’s a reason I saved this one for last.  The dissenters in the facebook groups at the top of this article are probably really not going to like this take.  And yet, I soldier on.  Sometimes artists need to be reigned in.  Sometimes there are things that just don’t translate the way a director would think they would.  See Donnie Darko as an example.

This isn’t to say that producers are the be-all and end-all of creative influencers.  In fact, limitations often bring out much of the best creativity in a filmmaker.  Look at Jaws.  Spielberg always wanted to show more of the shark, but due to technical limitations of their robot he couldn’t.  The film soared on the strength of the mystery it cultivated by showing the shark so little.  In this instance, it was Spielberg's editor and a lack of budget that reigned him in the most.  

Thanks so much for reading!  If you liked this post, let’s help you build your business on our platform.  We offer unique support to help you build your company over multiple projects and integrate your real-world filmmaking props, wardrobe, equipment, set dressing, locations, and even your cast and crew contacts directly and seamlessly into your projects.  Best of all, that part of our service is COMPLETELY FREE.  Check it out below.


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