Film Short: All You Need is Film Courage
One of the best shows for filmmakers to grace internet radio is Film Courage, which airs every Sunday at Noon PT on LA Talk Radio. Co-hosts Karen Worden and David Branin have been building a supportive and devoted following by featuring informative and entertaining guests on their program, so I thought it would be fun to turn the tables and interview them. Unfortunately, David was unavailable because of his current time commitments to the duo’s two movie projects “Night Before the Wedding” and “Goodbye Promise”, but Karen graciously shared some of her thoughts in Part one of my Q&A with her.
Q – How has meeting and interviewing so many different filmmakers affected the way you look at your own projects and what are the most valuable lessons you have learned in this area?
A – I’ve read so often that other people are mirrors of ourselves, the good and the bad. When I view someone who is doing incredible things, I say “how can I model myself after this person?” I guess the saying applies “if you can’t beat them, join them.” On the other hand, when I stumble across someone and my first inclination is to criticize, I also have to wonder am I being critical because I feel their work is lacking or do I see a quality in myself which I dislike reflected in this person? So watching other artists, whether I support them or not makes me measure myself. Sometimes I cringe and sometimes I applaud them.
A valuable lesson I’ve learned from our interviews is that nothing is as easy as it looks. One must put forth lots of effort and sometimes endure sheer pain to get where they want to be. Maybe not pain in a physical sense, but an emotional pain of comprising values or their self in some way. And even in doing this and reaching success, a sense of satisfaction may not be felt. I’ve always heard that’s an affliction many successful people struggle with and that’s why they’ve propelled themselves. They were just never content with their current level.
Another thing I’ve learned from merely living in Los Angeles is to remain humble, although this is not always achieved. The ego can and does flair up in delusions of grandeur and delusions of being the greatest “worst” of them. When I remain as neutral as I can, I’m better at hearing out a guest during the show, being creative, or completing various items of business for The Film Courage Interactive.
Q – Crowdfunding is a major issue right now with indie filmmakers. Do you have any thoughts regarding what motivates them to support one another or what inspires fans to want to donate to a project?
A – Outside of people who donate to a project, such as family, friends, and peers, I think when there’s an emotional connection to a project, it causes strangers to contribute. When people see a video on Kickstarter, IndieGoGo or some other crowdfunding site where the director or actors play on emotion, it draws people in. They become curious about the project. It makes them cheer for the filmmakers and pull out their credit card. Whether the director makes a plea that tugs at peoples’ heartstrings or the subject matter is compelling, it doesn’t matter. People want to support something that is meaningful to them, not just another project.
Q – Considering the different topics you have covered on your show, is there one area you feel filmmakers have benefited most from – social media, anecdotes, marketing, distribution, funding? Do any of these seem to be the most critical to your audience?
A – I think the insights our Film Courage guests have shared on marketing their films have been helpful to listeners, however painful to implement. I think people know they should promote themselves, but so many creative people are not hard wired to do this. We are dealing with imaginative people who are great at telling stories and projecting them onto a screen, but the marketing aspect is challenging. Creating art and selling art are two different skills. So the film sits. Nothing happens with it. Maybe they move on to another project. Maybe they give up. I think it’s wonderful to talk about art and its process. But the real work for so many artists comes in selling it to people. You risk rejection and failure. So we avoid it. We’ve had wonderful guests on such as Jon Reiss, Sheri Candler, Marc Rosenbush, John Paul Rice, and more who’ve discussed social networking, building an audience before the film is finished (or even shot), so that you have people who care about your work. We’ve also had interesting examples of filmmakers gathering contact information of niche groups catering to the film’s demographic because the filmmakers themselves were in that demographic (i.e., a hobby or sport) and were later able to sell dvds to those individuals. Our audience has definitely responded to funny anecdotes on success or stories of legends someone has worked with. However, I think many of our listeners are fascinated by steps a filmmaker takes after the film is made.
Q – Building a community seems to be the best way for filmmakers to not only survive, but to thrive in making indies. You are contributing with the radio show and your Film Courage Interactive. Are there any other steps you’d like to be able to take to help move this concept along?
A – We’d love to have a monthly meeting of just a pure support group for filmmakers and similar artists, where the group is dedicated to discussing issues that arise from being creative and building more of a community. This is inspired by a component of The Film Courage Interactive, which I like to call group therapy for filmmakers. It’s great when someone lets down their guard in a room full of strangers. It’s equally great to foster a sense of community, which is rare these days as we’re all behind our laptops and other gadgets. There are electronic communities out there, but being face-to-face with someone still carries more power.
We are currently constructing a website and are looking for user generated content. The site will have our radio show, The Film Courage Interactive information, videos, and will also have an area for guest articles/guest blogs. We are looking for material in the same vein as our show, pieces which are informative and inspirational. People can e-mail us at filmcourage at gmail if they’re interested in participating.
You can also connect with Karen and David via the links below or come by their monthly Film Courage Interactive at the Downtown Independent.