Monday Prescriptions – 10 Questions You Should Be Able to Answer (Or Don’t Make That Film)

Hi Film Folk!

With the sun setting and a new week officially on a roll, the Film Doctor Team have decided that instead of providing you with answers this week we’re going to ask you some questions. How do you know you’re on the right track with your project? How do you know you’re ready to push the project at all?

Sometimes it’s just gut instinct, sometimes blind faith in what you’re doing. But before you set out sourcing production budget money, cast or promote your idea to the world, go through these essential 10 questions. If you’ve managed to answer less than half, go back and work it out – your project/idea is still very raw and not worth being exposed to the critical eye of the industry.

1. Why are you doing this project? – First and foremost. This will set your expectations and goals right.

2. What is it about? – You should be able to sum up and pitch your project/idea in 1 sentence.

3. Who is it for? – The film is always for an audience, your task as the creator of that film (writer/director/producer) is to know who that audience is. And no, the project is not for YOU (if it is, it’d classify under ‘expression-of-artistic-vision-for-the-sake-of-it’ and won’t bear you any potential financial returns). Although YOU still got to like it.

4. How much will it cost? – Something you should be able to tell any potential investor/sponsor/financier and your film’s Producer.

5. Will the story change if you change the location/time/number of cast? – This one is also useful when thinking of funding opportunities: if your project’s essence remains the same whether it’s set in the UK or in Morocco,  you might find yourself with several budget raising routes (co-productions, foreign investment, etc) rather than just one. Which is always a welcome relief.

6. What makes it different? – Marketing people have the term Unique Selling Point (USP) to describe how one product differentiates itself from the rest of the market. What is your project’s USP? If the story isn’t original enough, what else makes your film different and memorable? Memento (2001) had the unique non-linear narrative structure, The Sixth Sense (1999) had The Reveal – what’s yours?

7. What can you compare it to? – Although you need to have the USP, you also need to be able to give certain people (investors and reviewers especially) a framework of reference – existing successful titles that your project could be compared to. It’s like saying “Here’s a can of beans, it’s like a can of beans BUT better/different/spicier/healthier etc.” Answering this question will also help you establish for yourself what your project’s competition is. And can help you find the answer to Q.6

8. Who are you? – Not as existentialist as it may sound: simply, be able to sum yourself up, in film industry terms, in 1 sentence. Finding the answer to this (or several variations, depending on how many roles you’d like to play in the industry) will make you the master of introductions. Next time you’re networking at an event of sorts, you’ll be able to explain to everyone clearly and succinctly what is it exactly that you do.

9. Can you NOT make the project? – Or quit the film industry altogether? This is how you’d get the strength to carry on with your work, when it becomes a bumpy ride: if the answer is ‘No’, just buckle up and endure the ride.

10. Who inspires you? –  We’re not saying you should set out to be ‘The New (Insert Name)’, but when the going gets tough, it helps to have some guiding/inspirational figures in your life. Professional or personal. And when you find out how other people did it, it’s easier to plan your own steps.

‘Monday Prescription’ No. 23 – If you have more questions than answers, take your time to work things out before presenting your project to the world. Knowledge is power and you must know your film’s ins and outs.


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Any questions/thoughts/experiences of your own??? Leave a comment below!
Have a great week!
The Film Doctor Team
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