The older and wiser I get, the more I start to create and follow my own principles. Like a Jiminy Cricket on my shoulder, they pop up when the occasion arises. As a young and eager person, I’d say yes to almost anything, but now, as an older filmmaker and businessman, I have to force myself to say no to many things.
The first set of Principles I learned in my film making career was the Triangle. It’s the 2-out-of-3 rule that really helps me make a decision about whether to do a project offered to me or not.
It works like this, if the project meets 2 of the 3 criteria, then you should consider taking the project, if not, then you shouldn’t take it. The criteria are Friend, Money, or Project.
Does the project have a good story?
Is it to help out a friend?
Is it for money?
If you say yes to at least two of these, then if you do decide to spend you time on the project, you’ll either have a great time with your friend, and you’ll get paid for it, or you’ll have your credits to a good story with extra cash to boot. If you say yes to all three, then it’s definitely a project to take up.
I’m sure the Triangle doesn’t apply to just filmmakers, but to almost anyone in life who has many projects offered to them in their career or industry.
Say No to 24 hr Project Notices
I didn’t follow my own Triangle rule, and said yes to a project that was ill-conceived, ill-prepared, and created in a spur of the moment. A friend was in trouble and needed a surfing video ASAP, and asked me to go film a surfing video with him the following day AND that I drive them… and I said yes because I believed he was a well-connected man that can prove valuable to my career – and he would owe me big time.
However, the video turned out to be crap, and the trip made me realize that he’s not all that he’s cracked up to be (he’s kind of a jerk), and it probably lowered my value because he probably thought that I’d be ready to help him in a moment’s notice. Plus, I wasted my time and gas in helping him. I broke the Triangle by only fuffling one criteria: He was a friend, and not even a good one. My End-of-Day benefit: zero.
Of course, there will be times where you will be tempted to say yes, and here are my suggested criteria:
Are they prepared? The surfing video was not prepared at all. We didn’t have enough batteries or memory.
Are they experienced? Neither him nor I had experience shooting a surfing video, so the video turned out lame and a waste of time.
Also, when in doubt, follow the Triangle. It could have saved me time and gas.
The Triangle Level 2
This Triangle has to be implemented a lot these days.
I’ve been offered projects that have no pay, but they fulfill the first Triangle in the sense that it’s for a good friend, and it’s for a good project, however, previous experience has shown that taking up these project don’t produce any substantial benefits.
For example, my good friend has offered me to record a fashion event. It’s a high-profiled event where the footage will be awesome, and the potential to network is good, but they want me to give up 5 hours of my life and to do it for free. These types of offers make me pause and think because its hard to say no to a friend and a cool event.
However, previous experience has shown that networking is difficult at such events, and I don’t need more fashion footage in my reel or portfolio.
Therefore I had to develop level 2 of the triangle, which involves the following criteria: Experience, immediate benefit, long term benefit.
Is there a way that this project will increase my experience/skills dramatically?
Sure, I’ll be increasing my filmmaking skills at the fashion event, but will it increase it dramatically? Probably not. However, if it’s project where I get to use the Red One or where I get to learn about 3D camera technology, then yes, I’ll probably go.
Is there a guaranteed immediate benefit?
Will me just being their guarantee that I will get something in return? If I’m offered to record a red carpet event for free BUT I get to see the high profiled movie with the stars, you bet I’m going to say yessss!
Is there a long term benefit?
If I do this favor now, will I benefit from it sometime later? A few weeks? A few months from now? For example, I’m offered to help for free on a project that has a good director and a good story, however, it doesn’t have an immediate benefit nor does it increase my skills. However, it will, in the long run, increase the exposure for my company, Anchorbolt Studios, by getting alot of hits on Youtube. Do I help out? Yes.
Unlike the first triangle, with this triangle, you only need one of these Criteria, because maybe just one of these is enough of an excuse to do the whole project. But if you get two of them, then more power to you.
As a person who wants to do a million things at the same time, I have grown to learn the value of time, because I only have so much time on this planet, so I have to choose my projects wisely, and my principles are there to help me choose quickly and carefully.
What are some principles you follow?