Thriving Filmmaker

Build a financially sustainable career in independent documentary film

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Dear ambitious, passionate, and hard working filmmaker,

I see you. You're not alone.

You desperately hope to craft emotionally compelling and powerful films that make a meaningful impact in the world, but you feel drained by the creative process and also want to be able to pay your rent and go on a real vacation once in a while.

This course is designed to help you strategically lay the foundation for your financially thriving career, one where you craft stories you’re proud, earn a living from diversified income, and cultivate an audience you can take with you from project to project.

You’ll go from vaguely wishing...

“...I hope this works out…I’ll just put it out there...I’ll just (only) apply to Sundance and see what happens...”

To strategically crafting a viable plan

“I’m super excited to make a film about [something you're passionate about]! But first, I’m going to test my idea before I spend (more!) years/time/energy on it {you’ll learn how in this course}. In the meantime, I’m going to strategically build an audience, during pre-production {you'll learn this, too}.”

By the end of this 4-week course, you will have:

  • A rock solid vision of the film career that brings you the most joy, and is aligned with your artistic purpose (be it as a director, editor, impact producer, or other film professional)
  • A clear outline of your career priorities, which will enable you to proactively craft a thriving body of work
  • The skills to confidently manage your time and set boundaries, in order to avoid burnout and prioritize making time for the work (and people!) you love
  • Insight into how successful documentary filmmakers pay themselves, set up their operations, fund their films, and build careers over decades
  • Templates, tools, resources, and insights for making money with *both* new models of funding and distributions (like crowdfunding, niche-distribution, and direct audience) and traditional models that are still very relevant today (like grant funding, the festival route, and licensing)
  • The starting point for your funding & distribution strategy (with templates and worksheets to guide you)
  • The tools and resources to freelance for freedom, not for free
  • The skills to negotiate confidently and pitch effectively
  • The framework for setting up an automated stress-free personal budget
  • and a ton more--templates, email scripts, tools. You'll have lifetime access to the course and recordings so you can always refer back to the lessons, templates, and tools whenever you need them, throughout your creative career.
  • All for less than a weekend lens rental! #win!

But, to be clear, your success won’t happen overnight. However, if you’re willing to take 10-15 minutes per day, Monday-Friday, to do a simple daily “easy thriving task” then you’ll make a ton of progress 4 weeks from now.

Also, this course is NOT about the nuts and bolts of making a film and the craft of storytelling. It's not a film making class. It's an encouraging and easy film business class. If you’re ready and hungry to work on your career rather than in your career, then this is for you.

If it doesn’t live up to your expectations, I’ll gladly give you 100% of your money back. Simple as that.

Here’s to your thriving career!
Ani Mercedes
Founder & Impact Producer, Looky Looky Pictures
"Gate Opener" & Educator, Thriving Filmmaker (In a industry full of gatekeepers, I aim to be a gate opener for you!)

"This course has helped me determine and understand what my financial needs are, what the services I offer are worth and how to confidently negotiate to reach my financial goals with each project."

- Michelle E. Aguilar, Small Pumpkin

Thriving Filmmaker has been helpful to hundreds of documentary filmmakers worldwide.

Thriving Filmmaker in-person workshop at the International Documentary Association Conference.

Originally taught as an in-person workshop to over 125 participants in it's first year, and booked by filmmaker support organizations (including Chicken & Egg Pictures, the International Documentary Association, and Women Make Movies), this online course is an online version of the live workshop, but with more in-depth resources and will serve as a resource for you throughout your career.

The course links to interviews from our video podcast, which has had over 405 participants tune in from over 20 countries.

Thriving Filmmaker in-person workshop at a Chicken & Egg Pictures retreat.



At the end each workshop, students complete an anonymous feedback survey, here's some feedback from those:

“Everything [was helpful]! But the most practical was the business part of it and breaking it down so it’s not so frightening.”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

“This gave me the opportunity to build a new way to look at my career.”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

“This was freaking awesome!! Thank you so much :)”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

“Auto-budgeting is a revelation!”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

“Learning how to negotiate pay and end dates when working internships/volunteer work was most helpful.”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

99% would recommend it to a friend

Rated 9 out of 10 stars (average of all workshops during the first year)

Thoughtfully crafted for busy filmmakers.

You'll get:

  • 26 practical video lessons (each less than 10 minutes), broken up into 4 simple and easy to follow modules. The Thriving Filmmaker course puts everything together in one, easy-to-understand program.
  • 4 downloadable worksheets, that's one per module, to help you put what you learned into action.
  • Daily easy thriving task with each lesson. This is all about action. Your career can only thrive if you put in the work, so the worksheets include an "easy thriving task" that accompanies each lesson, so that you start putting the lessons to work right away!
  • Bonus templates, tools, email scripts, case studies, and other materials in each lesson. You'll have the resources to dig deep in areas you want to learn more about, and also have materials to reference when you need them in the future.
  • Unlimited access to the course – forever. You'll be able to watch any time and on any device. You can watch the course from your mobile device, computer, or tablet, and you’re free to learn at your own pace. Your progress is automatically marked as you take the course.
  • 100% money-back guarantee. If you don't love it, I'll refund you. It's as simple as that.

Course Curriculum


“This was clearly laid out and explained.”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

“I feel confident that I now have the tools to get my career and my project to the next step.”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

“The process you laid out of thinking through what’s making money while also making sure my heart/career feel on track, was most helpful.”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

Your Instructor

Ani Mercedes
Ani Mercedes

Hi! I’m Ani Mercedes (she/her), Founder, C.E.O., and Impact Producer at Looky Looky Pictures, as well as a "gate-opener" and educator.

I’m obsessed with empowering independent filmmakers in reaching their most passionate audience! We’ve worked with hundreds of filmmakers around the world to implement, advise, and guide them on their impact production efforts for their film.

We work with stories that go beyond empathy; that aim to participate in the transformational work of building solidarity with (rather than for) the communities they hope to serve.

I hope this knowledge is super helpful to you! Enjoy!


“Ani, I wish you were an app on my phone!”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

“This class was great. The modules have very concrete and tangible goals which stress the business and working side of filmmaking. Ani has a personal and encouraging way of demystifying distribution, marketing, work relationships and other skills to keep doing what we're doing (without burnout or going broke).”
— Thriving Filmmaker student

p.s. This is the bottom line: Give me 10 minutes a day to help you create a plan for building a thriving independent film career.

This course packs in a lot of value in a short amount of time. Each lesson is ten minutes or less, which means you can watch one lesson per day and complete the daily ‘easy thriving task’ in just around 15 minutes per day.

At that pace, you could finish the entire course in less than 30 days. In other words, give me 15 minutes a day and in 30 days, you’ll have lessons that will last your entire career.