One of the challenges I face as a producer is the fear of rejection. Being afraid to ask for something because someone might say “no” is probably not high on the list of desirable things you want in a top-notch producer! So how do I deal with this part of my psyche?
First I consider my goals. What do I need? What do I want? Then I prioritize my goals. How important is this to meet my goal? What am I willing to give up for this? Finally, I give myself a little encouraging talk … you’ve probably heard phrases like “you don’t get 100% of the jobs that you don’t apply for”. It’s kind of the same when I need something. I tell myself … “if they say no, where does that leave me?” The answer is “in the same place I am now … “ I may not be better off, but I won’t be worse off either. What is the best thing that could happen? They say yes! What other outcomes might be possible? They might refer me to someone else or they might say “not now, but try again later”. Those are all GOOD outcomes!
Another note of encouragement is that by asking for something, I have opened the door for later connections and I have introduced myself as a filmmaker. That alone has opened a lot of doors.
Let me share some stories about asking …
Some of you know that I am also connected with the Edmonton Short Film Festival (ESFF). Last year, the festival featured a panel event for filmmakers and we featured some hardworking and knowledgeable local industry, educational and government representatives to present to our filmmakers. I was SO afraid to approach all these people, thinking they would all be too busy or not interested … but I asked anyway. And we ended up with a phenomenal panel of 10 leaders from Edmonton’s/Alberta’s film community! This year, I was reading an awesome book: “Filmmaking for Dummies”. This book is filled with so many great hints, advice and information about creating film projects and I was inspired. So I thought it would be fabulous to invite the author, Bryan Michael Stoller, to be our special guest for the Filmmakers’ event at the 2015 ESFF. The little voice in my head said “yeah, right … he’s a Hollywood filmmaker … look at the work he’s done and who he has worked with! You’ll NEVER get him!” I told that voice to hush up and sent Mr. Stoller an email. Within DAYS, he enthusiastically said YES! (Okay, now we have the problem of raising enough money to cover the cost to bring him in, but one problem at a time, eh!).
I have never paid for a filming location and we have always had GREAT locations that have been ideal for our projects … everything from a mansion on Ada Boulevard to a University to a private lake resort to a former hospital. For each of the locations I made personal visits to the property owners/managers and introduced myself. Then I talked about what I was filming and finally asked if they would be open to allowing us to use their space. Even for the occasional “no” I get when I ask to film somewhere, the “no” is often accompanied by an invitation to connect at another time, or an offer to help in other ways.
Even in requesting funds, I have approached funders “out of the blue” with well-crafted and detailed proposals, stating exactly what I want, why I want it, when I need it, and how I can acknowledge their contribution.
So, again, to paraphrase … “you don’t get 100% of the things you don’t ask for”. I encourage you to take that scary first step, face down your fear of rejection, and ask for what you want or need.