What do the film and startup communities have in common? On the surface, it might not seem like much.
But a new event at Wilmington’s 20th Anniversary Cucalorus Film Festival
shows that there is more overlap than you might think.
Wilmington’s burgeoning startup scene prompted the first 10 x 10 Filmmaker and Entrepreneur Project, which challenged 10 filmmakers to make 5-minute films about 10 entrepreneurs over just five days, culminating in a public screening on the final day of the festival. (See four of those videos in this post.)
I was pretty impressed by the quality of the films and intrigued by the ways these two creative groups worked together, so I sat down with Sean Lacey
of Upcycle Brands
(which turns the fabric from discarded beach chairs and umbrellas into hats and t-shirts) to get his thoughts on the parallels between his life in a startup and the filmmaking experience.
His three takeaways:
At the end of 10 x 10, the filmmakers and entrepreneurs were invited on stage to share their experiences with Rob Hill, a Cucalorus team member and head of Common Sense Films of Wilmington.
- What can go wrong will go wrong. There will be technical issues that you cannot anticipate and must overcome, whether in the delivery of a new product line or losing clips from a great scene.
- The majority of filmmakers are making sacrifices in order to pursue their dreams. Many of the filmmakers juggle multiple and less than glorious jobs so they can pursue their greater dreams within the film industry. The 10 x 10 project allowed the filmmakers to highlight their skills but also required a good bit of commitment for no immediate monetary benefit. Entrepreneurs often experience the same struggle.
- What looks simple is not. There is a lot of behind-the-scenes thought, planning and effort behind films, even short ones. It takes a lot of footage and editing to make the film something that the filmmaker will be proud of.
From those discussions, here are a few other valuable lessons to be gleaned from the film industry:
- Shipping something is better than not shipping at all. Your product may not be perfect, but perfection is tough to obtain and sometimes good enough is good enough.
- Constraints can help with creativity. The time constraints for the filmmakers may have been tough, but constraints can often help with creativity by limiting excess options. Too many options with a lack of constraints can result in creative and decision inertia.
- Personal presence and leadership is important. Filmmaker Khang Mai spoke on stage to the entrepreneurs and filmmakers about the importance of their physical presence and speaking skills as they present themselves to others.
The 10 x 10 project was a really interesting mix of an old staple in the Wilmington economy, the film industry, and the new up-and-comer, the startup community. While I wouldn’t call it a passing of the guard, the NC’s change in film tax incentives will make it tougher for Wilmington to depend upon film as a key component of its economy. Startups are a new horizon for the city, but perhaps filmmakers will be key in helping those entrepreneurs tell their stories.