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5 Bits of Advice from “Bite Size” Baddass Producer Greta McAnany

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Greta McAnany Head Shotoriginally published on XFactorFilm.com

Before I became a producer for Sweet Desert Palm, or even a Co-Founder of X-Factor I began my foray into the film world with a feature documentary film called Bite Size. Bite Size is a film about childhood obesity that follows the stories of four inspiring kids from diverse backgrounds who are fighting for their health. They prove that it’s not just about the number on a scale, what really matters is learning what keeps you active and makes you happy.

Although I never thought I would be a documentary filmmaker, and even now want to focus on narrative, Bite Size has taught me some pretty incredible lessons about being a successful storyteller and has given me so much appreciation for the immense process of making a film.

So upon the release of our official trailer on people.com (with now 5K shares!) I would like to share some brief bullet points about filmmaking that I learned from my first feature:

  1. Like and respect the people you work with- If you don’t then everything will be one million times harder, so pick your core team wisely. I cannot stress this enough, that is why it is first.Bite Size Poster
  2. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help- Cold calling and emailing filmmakers who knew more than us was the best way to understand what we needed to do to tell this story, and more importantly to understand what kind of story we were actually telling. You will be surprised by people’s willingness to give advice. They either genuinely want to help or they really like hearing themselves talk about their experiences (either is a great opportunity to learn).
  3. Dream BIG, but please make sure you’re being semi-logical about it- As a young filmmaker it’s easy to get carried away by a brilliant idea you just had. But always take a minute to think about if that’s really where you should be putting your energy and money. Sure, creating a multi-million dollar platform to market the film complete with a reality TV show and mascot would be an awesome way to build a huge audience- but if you haven’t even finished shooting the film yet, or raised money for post then maybe focus on that first. Make sure you know what you NEED to do to finish the film, once you have that covered you can get creative about the extra bling.
  4. Be the Tortoise- Aesop knew what he was talking about in his famous fable. Bet on stamina rather than flashiness and speed. Like most indie films, my film almost never got finished multiple times for multiple reasons. Its’ savior was the relentless hard work of team members who refused to give up, even if there was literally no solution in sight. I guarantee if something looks impossible you just have to give it time and thought before an answer presents itself.
  5. Serve the Film/Not Yourself- Love the story you are telling and let that carry you through the process of the film. I like to think about the film as another member of your team. If you are always thinking of what would help the film and better the film, then you will make the right decisions both creatively and business wise. If you are instead serving your own ego and needs, well then you probably should do something else and see a therapist stat.

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About Greta McAnany

Greta McAnany is an award-winning producer, writer and storyteller. Shortly after graduating from USC, Greta formed her own production company and received a grant from the Thorton Foundation in Los Angeles, to produce a feature documentary focusing on childhood obesity, entitled Bite Size. The film won the Grand Jury prize at Cinequest Film Festival and was featured by Katie Couric’s “Obesity Awareness” special on ABC. Greta has produced award-winning live newscasts, reported as a theatre critic for LA Stage Times, where she interviewed Oscar and Tony-winning writers, directors, and actors. She is a member of the Groundlings, and is a co-founder of the next generation studio X-Factor Films, currently producing their pilot feature, Sweet Desert Palm.