Let’s talk about film making and frauds.

Hey guys… just a heads up… there are a few frauds and con men in our community… two or three of them are actually… Actually, there are probably a lot more of them, but I know of two or three.

No. I will not give you names… First of all, many of you know them. Some are fooled by their bullshit. And, frankly, I want to avoid a lawsuit.

I will, however, give you the information you need to spot them.

I can make you a star!

1) “I can make you a star!”
I have witnessed several of the frauds telling people this. It’s total bullshit. No one can make you a star. Period. Reaching stardom is as much random chance as it is skill. I mean, look at the Kardashians… I dare you, without looking it up to tell me why they are famous. I know… but I had to do some research to find it.

My point is, anyone who tell you that they can make you a star is blowing smoke up your ass.

When they say this… counter with a couple questions.
a) How long have you been at this?
b) What stars have you made so far? Can I get their contact information for reference purposes?

2) “Don’t work with so-and-so… They’re not what you need?”
Anyone who will say something bad about a specific person will say something bad about you. Take a look at most professionals and you will find an example of classy behavior.

My partner and I, when asked about the handful of people that we don’t feel comfortable with, the only thing you will ever hear us say is that “I wouldn’t work with them, just a personal preference.” I’m not saying I am classier than anyone else… or even better, but I believe in behaving like an adult and professional.

Your average fraud doesn’t believe in this standard of behavior or even acting like an adult. Simply put, if they name names and start tearing down, rather than building up… One who can do what they promise will most often be humble and will talk about the work of people they LOVE, rather than bashing people they hate.

3) Avoid inconsistent behavior. 
Your average fraud will be very inconsistent… What I am referring to, really is lies. They will promise you things and then never follow through.

  • You pour your blood sweat and tears into a work and nothing ever comes of it. 
  • Things never go right, but it is NEVER their fault. (not a star yet? It’s because your images weren’t what they wanted? The pilot never got finished, it was the editor’s fault. Pictures sucked? Damn camera.
  • Oh, I promised that if you signed up for my class, you’d get a speaking role in a short film or tv pilot? Well, too many people signed up… so we’ll give you footage for your reel… with this $100 camcorder… Oh, you never got that? Let me talk to the guy who shot it… I can’t reach him. 
4) It’s your fault.

They will never own their issues. No matter what happens… It’s your fault…

a) They want to try to shoot 17 pages… you tell them it will take 3-4 days to shoot that… They procrastinate and try to do it in one day… That’s your fault.
b) They want to shoot in a cruise ship cabin with only the ambient lights…you tell them it can’t be done without making it orange… they do it anyway… and, holy shit! the footage is orange… that’s your fault.
c) They want to shoot a character in the mirror… over the shoulder… you tell them you can’t do that…”WHY?” – “Because you’ll see the camera.” – “DO IT ANYWAY.” That’s your fault.
d) You write a budget… they don’t like how big the numbers are… you trim it down and advise them that it is a mistake to present those numbers… Then the investors say it’s all wrong… That’s your fault.

I think you see the pattern. They will hire you for your knowledge, skill and expertise… and they will ignore all you have to say on the topic. And they will blame you. That’s probably your fault, too.

5) NEVER pay for a part. PERIOD.
There are a lot of frauds and hucksters out there that will promise to put you in a film, a commercial or a television pilot if you just pay this paltry sum (that’s sarcasm) and put you in this production. I see this one a lot. A specific fraud has promised this at least 5 times that I know of and I have yet to ever see it materialize. The latest promise is that it WILL be on a local television station. I can tell you this… Unless the pilot is made BY the network it is appearing on, there is no way that they can promise this until the station SEES it.

I can speak from experience on this one as well… The pitch was, we will shoot a short film and everyone in the class will get a speaking part. Then, when too many people sign up for the class, instead of re-writing the script, or cutting off the sign up at the number of parts, they tell you that “Well, we had too many people so we are going to get you footage to use in your reel. Then they take some shaky footage on a hand held camcorder in a hotel room… NOT actual footage, not something that has any quality… just one wide angle with some crappy zooms in it… In short, stuff that WILL NOT get you any jobs.

If you get to be rich and famous, you might be approached by a company to star in a movie and they might ask you to invest. This is different from what I am talking about. In that situation, you will get reimbursed and a portion of the profits… if that’s the case… GO FOR IT!

6) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Plain and simple… if it sounds too good to be true… it is… period. Live your dreams and chase the stars… but be a skeptic.

The film industry is a TOUGH one. Anyone that tells you different is selling snake oil. remember these tips and you just might survive.

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