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Thriving Filmmaker

Build a financially sustainable career in independent documentary film

This course is not open for enrollment.

Your success doesn't only depend on learning how to craft a film -- getting the shot, learning to edit, having the right lenses.

You need to learn and practice the business side of filmmaking too.

This class is designed to give you an inside look at how different filmmakers pay themselves, set up their operations, fund their films, and build careers over decades -- including examples of *both* new models (like crowdfunding, niche-distribution, and building a personal audience) and traditional models that are still very relevant today (like grant funding, the festival route, and through distribution).

If you have a 9-to-5 and are side hustling, are a student, are an aspiring filmmaker, or are a freelancer working on a passion project while taking side gigs on other people's projects, then this class will help you. You'll learn how to go from struggling filmmaker jumping from project to project, to a focused and visionary filmmaker working on projects you love. (100% of my income -- including retirement, healthcare, and benefits -- comes from doing what I love most in doc films.)

By the end of this course you'll have a plan (and specific tools) to help you confidently build your career so you're able to tell stories that matter most to you, while also confidently pitching your work, negotiating, and earning a living that lets you go on a real vacation once in awhile.

If you're ready to start now, you can binge the whole thing in one weekend (the entire syllabus is below). You'll learn what it took me 6 years to learn, but in less than a weekend. This is a self-paced course so you can put it down and pick it up on your own time and it will be a reference for you forever. So you can always refer back to the sample emails, templates, and tools whenever you need them.

All for less than the cost of a weekend lens rental or dinner for two. #win!


"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, Documentary Filmmaker/Editor



You'll learn:

  • How most successful documentary filmmakers pay themselves and how to apply that to your work
  • How to negotiate confidently and pitch effectively
  • How to proactively build a thriving body of work and lay the foundation for your career
  • How to make money with *both* new models (like crowdfunding, niche-distribution, and building a personal audience) and traditional models that are still very relevant today (like grant funding, the festival route, and through distribution)
  • For freelancers: how to set & earn a thriving rate
  • and more!


You'll be able to:
  • Create a funding & distribution strategy (with a template as a starting point)
  • Ask for help from people who are more experienced — like mentors and advisors
  • Determine and understand what your financial needs are
  • Set-up a stress-free personal & business budget
  • For freelancers: define your services so you attract more clients and reach your financial goals with each project
  • and more!
 

"Thank you for bringing fun, hope and positivity to such a heavy subject.

I entered your class feeling defeated and left feeling abundant and empowered."

-Barbara

This course is not open for enrollment.

You'll GET


Course:

  • 5 Modules + 1 Bonus Module
  • 15 Lessons -- each lesson contains a video lesson
  • Over 5 hours of video lessons
  • Over 30 resources
  • A convenient status bar, so you can track your progress

Resources:
  • Business structure case studies of how different filmmakers pay themselves and set up their operations
  • A list of simple admin tools (for project management, tracking time, invoicing, bookkeeping, etc.)
  • Email scripts for reaching out to partners, mentors, advisors, and others
  • Templates for creating your budget and distribution strategy (linked as Google Docs that you can download as a PDF or Word file, or copy to your own Google Drive to edit)
  • and more!

This is what it looks like after you enroll:

 

“I have no savings, at all! I have a mountain of debt too!

This course was just what I needed. I have more financial clarity to draw up goals than I have ever had before.

Excellent information and resources!”

— Jackie

This course is not open for enrollment.

Your Instructor


Ani Mercedes
Ani Mercedes

Hi, there! I am an independent Impact Distribution Producer at Looky Looky Pictures, and a personal finance educator.

I've taught personal finance workshops to hundreds and been featured in personal finance press including Learnvest, Bankrate, and The Money Nerds podcast.

I've worn many hats in documentary film -- production assistant, director, editor, transcriptionist, intern -- until I discovered what I love most in documentary film -- impact distribution producing, where I help filmmakers connect with the organizations, audiences, distributors, and funders who can best support and connect with their films. Now 100% of my income come from doing what I love, including paying for retirement, healthcare, and benefits.

I created Thriving Filmmaker to help you confidently build a financially thriving career in documentary film.


 

"Ani, I wish you were an app on my phone!"

-Eric

This course is not open for enrollment.

Syllabus

All modules, lessons, and objectives


Module 1: Lay the Foundation for Your Thriving Career


1.1) How to Proactively Build a Thriving Body of Work

  • Identify your top 3 career goals
  • Identify 3 ways to generate income that align with your goals
  • Reflect on whether your current projects lead to sustainably thriving

1.2) The 7 Stages of Effective Pitching

  • Identify 7 Stages of Effective Pitching

1.3) Write Your Personal & Project Pitch

  • Write a short personal pitch
  • Write a short project pitch
  • Write 1 specific ask

1.4) 4 Funding & Distribution Models

  • Identify 4 Funding & Distribution Models
  • Reflect on which model may fit your work best so you can intentionally build relationships

Resource: 8 Funding & Distribution Case Studies

Resource: Create your Funding & Distribution Strategy, with Template

Resource: Budget Templates and Examples


Module 2: Building a Thriving Team


2.1) Mentors & Peer Networks

  • Identify how to build connections with mentors and peers
  • Identify where and when to build connections with mentors and peers
  • Take actions that build connections
    • Identify 3 new mentors or peers and write to them
    • Thank 1 mentor from your past with an update
    • Join a community (local, national, international, or virtual)

2.2) How to Talk about Money with the People in Your film

  • Reflect on varied approaches and examples from notable directors
  • Be proactive: Reflect on what to say


Module 3: Building Thriving Relationships


3.1) Partnerships

  • Identify Win-Wins when building Partnerships
  • Where to find Partners
  • How to connect with Partners
  • Examples and Case Studies

3.2) Your Audience & Crowdfunding

  • Identify Win-Wins when building an audience & crowdfunding
  • Where to find a film's audience
  • How to connect with audiences
  • Examples and Case Studies

3.3) Fundraising

  • Identify Win-Wins when building funder relationships
  • Where to find funders
  • How to connect with funders
  • Examples and Case Studies


Module 4: Nuts & Bolts: Set up Thriving Operations


4.1) Where the Magic (can!) Happen: Simple Admin Tools

  • Identify your core administrative activities
  • Select tools for each activity

Resource: 15+ Magically Simple Admin Tools

4.2) Organizational Structures: Nonprofits, LLC's, and Taxes, Oh my!

  • Be able to describe why organizational structures are used
  • Recognized two common organizational structures
  • Have resources to help you set up yours


Module 5: Real Talk: Freelance for Freedom (not for free)


5.1) Define Your Services: What do you do?

  • Outline your Services
  • Identify the Features
  • Identify the Benefits
  • Reflect on how to package your services

5.2) Attract More Clients: Who do you want to work with?

  • Identify 2 key characteristics
  • Outline where to find them
  • Select a way to track clients
  • Challenge: Sell to 3 clients

5.3) Your Rate Part 1: How to Set & Earn a Thriving Rate

  • Set financial goals -- Set a 3-scenario money goal and set a time goal
  • Choose your rate

5.4) Your Rate Part 2: How to Raise Your Rate & Stop Working for Free

  • Negotiate confidently
  • Stop working for free -- create your Free(dom) Rubric


[BONUS] Stress-Free Budgeting for Filmmakers


6.1) Set up an Automated Stress-Free Personal & Business Budget

  • Review why Automation > Motivation
  • Have the knowledge and tools to set up an automated personal (and business) budget

Resource: Steps, Excel Template & Bank Accounts

 

Survey results:


Would you recommend the class to a friend?

100% said Yes :)


How satisfied were you on a scale from 1 to 10 -- 10 being the highest?

9.8 out of 10 :)

This course is not open for enrollment.

Frequently Asked Questions


Who is this course BEST for?
If you have a 9-to-5 and are side hustling, a student, aspiring filmmaker, or freelancer working on a passion project while taking side gigs on other people's projects, then this class will move bring you closer to building a thriving career. It will help you whether you want to make a living as a creative (like directors, producers, editors, DPs, etc.) or in a supporting production role (like production assistant, transcription, research, impact producer, etc.).
What if I don't make documentaries?
About 75% of the materials here will be useful, including lessons on building relationships, pitching, and setting up a thriving operation. The biggest difference being lessons on working with the people in your film (rather than actors or scripts). If you're curious about how the documentary film business works, then I suggest taking the class.
What if I am unhappy with the course?
I would never want you to be unhappy! If you are unsatisfied with your purchase, contact me at ani (at) lookylookypictures (dot) com in the first 30 days after you enroll and I will give you a full refund.
How long do I have access to the course?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own. You'll learn what it took me 6 years to learn, but in less than a weekend -- if you're ready to start now, you can binge the whole thing in one weekend. This is a self-paced course so you can put it down and pick it up on your own time and it will be a reference for you forever. So you can always refer back to the sample emails, templates, and tools whenever you need them.
When does the course start and finish?
This is an entirely self-paced online course, so you can start as soon as you sign up and then complete it at your own pace. You'll have lifetime access to the course so can take it as quickly or as leisurely as you'd like. The intention is that it will serve as a reference for you so you can keep revisiting it and referencing it throughout your career.
Will there be more lessons in the future?
Yes! The plan is to add more lessons based on student feedback and demand. As more lessons are added, the price will also increase. So sign up now.
Will the price remain the same?
No. Prices can change at any time without previous notice as the program evolves and new features get added. Enrolled students in the course get to vote on the new lessons and features.
Can I just buy a portion of the program?
No. This is a system of interrelated modules and lessons, not a series of unconnected tactics.
What do I need in order to participate in the course?
You will need a computer, internet access, the ability to watch online videos, the ability to download PDFs (many are shared at Google docs that you can view and download or copy to your own Google Drive).
I represent an organization/school, can I buy bulk licenses?
Yes. Email me: ani (at) lookylookypictures (dot) com
Other questions?
Email me: ani (at) lookylookypictures (dot) com

This course is not open for enrollment.