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Indie Movie Mastery: What Do You Want?

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If I were to tell you my dream for those in the entertainment industry (well, really, for EVERYONE because I think if everyone had this, the world would be a much better place), it would be that everyone has long, sustainable, fulfilling careers.

And, I believe it’s possible.

The key, in my humble opinion, is identifying what that looks like for you.

Creatives are blessed with the ability to do many different things. Sometimes that blessing can become a curse when we’re not really clear on what it is we want to be doing. We’re also blessed with a curiosity for the new and different. Again, that blessing can be a curse because then we go out into the professional world saying things like “I just want to work” or “I’ll do anything.” These two statements can be very confusing to someone like me who wants desperately to help people make their dreams come true or people who have a specific project that they’re working on and might be looking to hire you but can’t quite figure out if you’re right for the project.

I know it’s true, that most of us just want to work. We love it and the work itself sustains us. But, statements like these overwhelm the brain and those of us who might be able to help you make your dreams come true honestly can’t pinpoint how. It’s also confusing to the subconscious and we develop really intense cases of “shiny object syndrome.”

Another thing that tends to happen to creatives is that we tend to be malleable. Which is great if you’re in the creative process but not so great when you’re working on your career goals. It often means that other peoples’ thoughts, ideas and opinions of us and what we should be doing and how our lives should look, can really effect us, and throw us onto an entirely different path.

Because of this, creatives often fail to achieve the career success they dream of. The cool part is that this doesn’t have to be the case. We get to decide and as G.I. Joe would say “knowing is half the battle.” (Yes, I just dated myself 😉 . But, seriously, it’s super cool that we can change the course of our lives and create the life we dream of by acknowledging that this is a real thing that happens and then focusing in on how to change course.

Getting off track happens to the best of us and it happens more often than most like to admit. Again, the cool thing is that all it takes is acknowledging and course correcting. Something that always makes me feel better and kicks my butt in the right direction is the fact that an airplane is off course 99% of the time. 99%!!! And, barring some major disaster, they always reach their terminal. But, that’s because they are constantly course correcting and they have a very clear destination (i.e., goal/dream).

Listen, I know I’m making the acknowledging seem simple, but when you’ve spent the better part of a decade building something that wasn’t your dream and all of sudden you get real honest with yourself, it can feel like the BIGGEST failure imaginable – speaking from experience here. So, when that happens, feel free to eat a pint of ice cream, drink a glass of wine or run yourself a nice bubble bath. Feel free to mourn because it totally sucks. But, then, get back to it because there’s no time to waste. The world needs you to create your art and live the life you dream of living.

So, what I’m about to lay out for you is something I do whenever I’m feeling off course.

Here it is:

I sit with myself and I put myself in the mindset of being a little girl in my small town in the middle of nowhere in Minnesota and I remember the dreams I used to dream when I was her. I used to dream of walking the red carpet, of being on talk shows, of waking up in my large house and taking a dip in my own swimming pool, of showing up in a random place and meeting someone who loved my TV show and having them tell me how it changed their life or brought them joy somehow.

Then, once I’m in that mindset, I think about what it is in the “real world” that I can do to make those things my reality.

I know that I need to make award-worthy content. I know I need to get good at PR. I know that I need to work for a decent amount of money and focus on building relationships with filmmakers who make decent budgeted movies.  I know that I need to focus on raising a good amount of money for the films I’m producing. I know that (as an actor) I really want to be in television, so I need to focus on the casting directors that do television.

You see? Because I remember what my dream is, I can bring my “to-do” list into the reality of being a professional in the entertainment industry.

So, I invite you to sit with yourself. Remember why you got into this business in the first place. Remember the type of person you are. And then really hone in on:

  • WHAT type of career you want have
  • WHAT type of projects you want to do
  • WHAT type of life you want to create for yourself

These are some of the most important questions you’ll ever ask yourself and the answers will dictate every choice you’ll make moving forward. Value that. Value yourself. Value your dream.

Do this, believe you can make these things happen and I know you’ll create the life and career that you want.

Remember, you get to decide.

Jenna Edwards

About Jenna Edwards

With a passion for acting and the business of show-business, Jenna moved to Burbank, CA in 2000. Soon after, she appeared in UNSOLVED MYSTERIES, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and MALCOLM IN THE MIDDLE. In 2008 she produced her first feature, the award-winning film, APRIL SHOWERS. Building on the success of April Showers, Jenna produced the first narrative feature film exclusively for Hulu. Jenna helped create and was the “resident producing advisor” on the Movie Maker Magazine top ranked podcast, FILM METHOD and wrote an advice column called the Film Method Mailbag. She also taught producing at New York Film Academy. Years of teaching, consulting and coaching filmmakers made Jenna want to do more so she started her company, Indie Movie Mastery which focuses on teaching producing through an online course and encouraging filmmakers to think outside the box though her podcast and blogs