Thursday, April 16, 2009

How Many Film Projects Are Too Much?

Starting out as a producer, I had about 40 projects at any given time in various stages of development. I quickly found that was WAY too many projects to develop and even think about. I knew there was a problem when I would get winded just talking about them. 

For a long time, I kept the list of projects at the forefront of my mind, thinking I would get to all of them eventually. Sadly, that has not been the case. It just isn't physically possible nor is it the best use of anyone's time to spread themselves over too many projects. In the time that I have been a producer, I have learned that it takes a really long time and a huge amount of energy to make even one film. Forty is a lifetime of projects. 

I still have that list of 40 projects and I go back and look over them periodically; I may even add to it from time to time. But instead of thinking of them as my current projects, I consider them my wish list. My current projects consist of about five films at any given time. 

I am only one person and there is only so much time in a day. I must prioritize my efforts and be very focused about what I need to accomplish. In order to get films made in a timely manner, I need to have the time to devote to each project every day. It's just not possible to work on 40 projects every day and push them successfully. I have found five to ten to be the max. 

What does this mean for my career? It means that I don't have much room on my slate for new projects. I may add one or two per year. But, I may read hundreds, even thousands of scripts a year. The odds are very low that I will strongly consider any unsolicited work. In fact, I tend to develop ideas in-house and find writers willing to work on spec and move forward as a team on an idea. This process allows me to get exactly what I want and feel I can get behind, without feeling compelled to find that needle in a haystack amongst the thousands of specs out there.

As you build your slate, try to focus on quality, not quantity. Weed out those 40 projects and focus on just a handful at any given time. I know a number of indie producers who only focus on one at a time. Find a system that works for you and realize that being overwhelmed by too many is not a system that works. 

2 comments:

femalehorrordirector said...

I've just found your blog and I love it! I think you've written some fantastic posts, really interesting and insightful.

I'd be interested to know if you'd had any experience or any thoughts on the UK film industry?

Jane Kelly Kosek said...

Thanks! I appreciate your kind words! I have no experience with the UK film industry. I'd love to learn more. It's tough because the US has no treaties with other countries and if your film isn't exactly right for the UK then it's typically not the right arena for a film with an American producer on board. But, I hope to work in the UK on a project some day.