Another Thing I Learned From Not Killing Stephen King… Filmmaking is Like a Pirate Ship!

by Dr. Monroe Mann, PhD, Esq, MBA, LLM, ME
Founder & Executive Director, Break Diving, Inc.
& Producer, Co-Writer, Co-Director, & Co-Star of the feature film, “You Can’t Kill Stephen King”, a film I produced with Ronnie Khalil

Filmmaking, I now realize, is like a pirate ship. 

I’m in pirate mode lately because I’ve been watching the amazing Showtime show, “Black Sails” about life in Nassau, Bahamas, during the heyday of piracy.

Watching it helped me realize that each voyage is like a film:

  • Sometimes it’s with the same crew, but… just as often not.
  • There’s someone in charge, and lots of moving parts.
  • If the crew gets upset, they start to mumble.
  • If not remedied, the mumbling turns to rumbling.
  • Before long, there will be a mutiny afoot, with some being forced to ‘walk the plank’.
  • Often, unexpected storms and meetings with other ships causes delays, and sometimes damage, and sometimes even personal injury.
  • When the ship arrives at the destination (if it ever does), the men are exhausted and grateful.  Some may be missing limbs.  Others relieved to be on dry land.  Still others are actually sad that they have to leave the sea life.  Some want to work with you again.  Others never want to see your face if it were the last one on earth.
  • Absolutely everyone is hoping to find fame and treasure as a result of the undertaking.

Well, for those of you who haven’t experienced both the pirate life and the filmmaking life, I hope it is now clear: they are both the same.  And if it’s not done properly, it can devolve into madness and mayhem of the highest order.  (Now, in the interest of full disclosure, I should point out that I have never been a pirate, but… I have watched all of Black Sails and have read “Treasure Island” a million times, and that’s good enough for my analogy! :P)

Fortunately, there’s a method to moviemaking to ensure it doesn’t devolve into the madness and mayhem of a pirate adventure gone wild.  And it starts with first understanding that there are 5 stages to any film-making endeavor, and it really is best if they are done in this order:

1) Development

2) Pre-Production

3) Production

4) Post-Production, and

5) Distribution.

Those are the five straightforward steps necessary to produce a film.  Do them all correctly (or even sort of correctly), and you’ll have a fair shot at seeing your film available worldwide.  How cool.

How do I know how to do these steps?  Because after numerous trial and error, and many failures, I finally succeeded in completing those five steps, and creating a successful feature film: “You Can’t Kill Stephen King”, which was sold in over 15 territories worldwide, including the US & Canada.  Google it for more info.

In other words, I am writing from experience. 

I co-wrote the script with Ronnie Khalil & Bob Madia, produced it with Ronnie Khalil, co-directed it with Ronnie Khalil & Jorge Valdes-Iga, and even co-starred.  It was a monumental (and ultimately successful!) undertaking, and one from which I have learned an impressive number of lessons.

These lessons are all contained in this book that follows, that I will be sharing here, online, on this blog, and all for free.

Why am I sharing this all here, free of charge?

Well, while I am running a not-for-profit here called Break Diving, Inc. and its mission is to inspire the world to go after their dreams and become successful.  Sooooo, I feel that sharing some of my intellectual property to the world at no charge is totally in line with that mission.

Yes, I could have published this in printed format like I have my other books, but I also wanted to try something new, and this is new for me!  I have never before published a book online, in serial blog format, and this is a fun experiment for me.  Most importantly, I’m hoping that readers will not only be inspired to go out and produce their feature film, but also will be inspired to learn more about this not-for-profit Break Diving and Unstoppable Artists as a result!

Bottom line, I am glad you are reading this.  If I had this book prior to producing the film, the entire 6+ year process would have gone a lot more smoothly.  We would have made better decisions.  I would have made better decisions.  Moreover, if I had this book five years prior to shooting the film, when I was trying to produce so many other projects, I think I would have seen a completed and internationally distributed film far sooner.  But hey, better late than never!

So, I am hoping that this book can help you avoid the same mistakes I/we made, and mimic the right moves I/we did make.  If nothing else, I hope it makes you laugh.  It was one wild ride, as you are about to see!

Before I proceed, here’s a quick preview of what’s to come:

The Five Truths of Filmmaking According to Monroe Mann

Phase 1 – Development (where most projects get stuckremember that)

Phase 2 – Pre-Production (where most projects should devote more timeremember that)

Phase 3 – Production (where most problems occurremember that)

Phase 4 – Post-Production (where most projects failremember that)

Phase 5 – Distribution (where most projects never end upremember that)

It’s absolutely crucial that you internalize those underlined words–they are more true than you can ever know.

Take them to heart.

Consider them seriously.

And then make a plan that ensures you avoid all the perils that I went through and mimic what went right.

I came up with those five basic truths of filmmaking after doing an analysis of our film, and also many others I produced, worked on, acted in, edited, or just know about.  And they consistently hold true.  SO MEMORIZE THEM!  PUT THEM ON YOUR WALL!

In fact, it is so incredibly important that I am going to repeat myself.  Ladies and gentlemen, I again present to you my five truths of filmmaking:

Phase 1: Development – Where most projects get stuck
Phase 2: Pre-Production – Where most projects should devote more time
Phase 3: Production – Where most problems occur
Phase 4: Post-Production – Where most projects fail
Phase 5: Distribution – Where most projects never end up

Memorize these five phases, and these five truths.  Ignore them at your own peril.

You.  Have.  Been.  Warned.

Stay tuned for more!  Be sure to read the first post in this series too: Another Thing I Learned From Not Killing Stephen King… Whaaaaat?

If you are trying to raise money for your project, check out:
T.R.U.S.T.™ – Using Psychology to Raise the Money You Need for Your Project
T.R.U.S.T. – Chapter 1: Why Finding Potential Investors is So Difficult

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