Five Things an Emerging Content Creator Should Know

Marquis Smalls

The film industry, while full of glamor and glitz, can also be formidable. As you pursue a career in this field, it is important to plan well for the journey ahead. This short guide will help you to avoid the pitfalls that most content creators face on the path to success.

“The rapidly growing field of content creation, though challenging, can also prove rewarding.”

1. Learn the craft.
Whether you attend college or choose to educate yourself, to become the next great visionary, it helps to know more than less. Gain insight into the humble beginnings of “moving pictures” in Fort Lee, New Jersey, and their eventual transformation into the burgeoning film industry in Hollywood. Learn about Oscar Micheaux, who, in a segregated America, still found a way to become an independent African-American filmmaker and to “barnstorm” the country with his films. Also, learn about Nollywood (Nigeria), Latin cinema and Australian cinema, Bollywood (India), Chinese content, Japanese anime, Canadian television and the BBC. Study scripts, movies, television and web series, as well as the following trade publications:

Variety – https://variety.com/
Shadow and Act – https://shadowandact.com/
Hollywood Reporter – https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/
Deadline – https://deadline.com/

2. Watch content.
YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Urban Movie Channel, Amazon Prime, traditional television and cable outlets are just some of the vehicles through which you can discover and analyze the work of your favorite writers and directors. Through these channels, you can also learn about production, especially for microbudget and independent work, to guide the creation of your masterpiece.

3. Invest in yourself.
Be willing to actively invest in yourself before expecting others to do so. Step out of the comfort zone of watching films at home. Take a screenwriting course, and join or start your own writers lab with like-minded creators. Attend film festivals and conferences. Watching other films while building a network of creators may help you recruit a team to develop your project. Expand your knowledge of the entertainment business by visiting your local library or bookstore, reading screenplays, books on writing, directing, and producing. The time and money you expend will speak volumes about your project’s perceived value.

4. Learn the business.
Research distribution, the windows through which your product can be distributed (theatre, cable television, traditional television, streaming, YouTube, domestic and global rights, etc.), and what those revenue streams pay. Taking this approach will leave you with other options for earning and exposure if your project is not chosen by an established distributor. If you have unlimited resources to invest in your content creation business, then you may be able to easily select and secure top talent for your project. With limited resources, you can still secure top talent successfully, as long as you have a strong business acumen or a solid business partner.

5. Check your ego at the door.
The film industry involves the most collaborative work in the world. Once you commit to this career, be open to building a network; use business cards, social media handles and more to connect and to follow up with those you meet. Remember that this business is an exchange. When you meet someone who can help you achieve your dreams, ask yourself how you can assist that person as well. Without an understanding of your own value or of the impact of collaborative effort, ego and inexperience can quickly become roadblocks to success. Broaden your vision by being open to the ideas and creativity of others, while maintaining their respect.

The rapidly growing field of content creation, though challenging, can also prove rewarding. By following these five important tips and maximizing the resources available to you, you can create a solid foundation for success.

To help you get started, view these helpful links to programs that support emerging creators:

http://www.sundance.org/ (Sundance festival and labs)
https://www.ifp.org/ (Independent Feature Project)
https://www.filmindependent.org/ (LA based film independent)
https://www.tfiny.org/programs/detail/tribeca_all_access (Tribeca)
https://www.abctalentdevelopment.com/home.html (ABC talent)
http://www.nbcunitips.com/ (NBC talent development)
http://www.abff.com/ (American Black Film Festival)
https://www.urbanworld.org/ (Urbanworld film festival)
https://www.nyfa.org/ (New York Foundation of the arts)
https://www.nywift.org/ (New York Women in Film and Television)
http://www.paff.org/ (Pan-African Film Festival LA)
https://filmfreeway.com/ (film festival and writing contest database)

For questions or for more information, feel free to contact me:
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