Expanding your Brilliant Creativity

Six Creative Tactics for a Using Your Creativity to Thrive and Enjoy a Successful Life

by Carole Dean

In our bi-monthly fiscal sponsorship Film Funding Guidance Class, I share books with our filmmakers that teach the power of our mind.  Currently, we have been studying the number one bestselling book, Mind Power into the 21st Century: Techniques to harness the astonishing powers of thought.


Author John Kehoe says that we all possess creativity and it’s our nature to be creative.  From working with so many talented producers and directors, I know that independent filmmakers are the most creative people on the planet!

John writes that unfortunately many of us were told at an early age that we were not creative.  We need to make sure that we overcome any of this type of programming.

Six Creative Tactics for a Successful Life

It’s important for us to realize that all of us are creative. I think we use creativity to get through the day, through the week and through the month.  With all the changes we are living with we need to believe that no matter what happens, we have our creativity to rely on.

John Kehoe gives us six creative tactics for a successful life:

1-Be an Explorer

It’s one thing to be open to new ideas and it’s another thing to actively seek them out. An explorer is forever trying novel and different ways of doing things. They believe that there are new worlds, new options new product, new services and ideas waiting to be discovered.

An explorer is not afraid of the unknown. They believe that success and happiness come not from following others but in finding their own unique way, so they forge ahead always on the lookout.

2-Ask Questions

Yes, question everything. The word question comes from the Latin word QUARERER to seek. John says the creative life is a continued quest.  Asking questions is indispensable to growth. “Don’t take anything for granted, be naïve, question everything” said Buckminster Fuller.  John says to ask questions like these: Why am I living like this? Why am I doing this job? Why am I not exercising? What have I been neglecting? 

I want you to ask: How can I develop my film today? What actors can I attach? Why can’t I get an A list actor? What would that really cost me?  Remember actors want to work.  They like to take parts in good independent films.  Don’t be afraid to ask for who you want. 

I did an Everything You Want to Know on Film Funding Webinar with Roy W. Dean Short Film Grant Winner Lorenzo De Stephano.  He got 2 well-known actors for his short film.  How? Because he believed he could.  He made the effort and convinced Sean Young and Quinton Aaron to come to Los Angeles to shoot his film.  It can be done.

Author Kehoe says don’t censor yourself no matter how impractical or outrageous the question or the answer sounds. This allows for fresh insights to reveal themselves. We are the creatures of habit and fall easily into routines.

He writes that our future depends directly on how well we question and examine our beliefs, actions, values, goals, and way of living.  I think this has a lot of merit especially for us in the film industry.

Too often people decided they can’t have an A-List actor or can’t have an actor that would get them distribution. Please question this.  Ask yourself, why can’t I get the actor I want for this part? Perhaps you need to raise extra money and are worried about this cost. But this decision would allow you to sell your film faster and definitely make more money. 

Think, how can you get a saleable actor? Begin to question these things and do some research.  Why not spend this next week questioning everything and see what happens Maybe you’ll make a breakthrough and find brilliant new ideas for your project?

3-Get Lots of Ideas

Linus Pauling, the Nobel Prize winning chemist said, “if you only have one idea and one solution to the problem, you’re facing then you only have one course of action.”

In a world where flexibility is a requirement, that is risky and I don’t like that.  That’s when I go to my meditation, and I say, “here’s the problem and here’s some solutions. What do you suggest?”

I leave it with my spirit guides.  I let them think about it.  Then I relax and meditate and usually I get the answer within 24 to 48 hours.  The answers the universe gives me are 10 times better than my ideas.

Edward De Bono wrote in his wonderful book, Lateral Thinking to have group meetings in which no negativity is allowed.  Anyone can say anything as crazy as it seems. Then the next person can build on that craziness and when you get through you may have some incredibly brilliant ideas.

The main point is not to stifle each other’s creativity but to enhance it, to build on it, and to expand each other’s ideas and just be kids again.

You may have read my blog on the “mastermind class” where people get together and brainstorm ways to improve situations.  This is what Napoleon Hill teaches in his brilliant book, Think and Grow Rich

This is exactly what the U.S. President does. He has his mastermind group of advisers from the corporate world who come to him monthly. The richest people in the world have their mastermind groups. That is how millionaire Andrew Carnegie made all this money in the steel world. That’s how Henry Ford made all his money, through mastermind groups.

Try creating a mastermind situation with your film crew or your associates. Even if there’s only two of you then you have the beginning for this mastermind meeting on a bi-monthly basis where you can get together and brainstorm. Be creative. Think outside the box just let yourself go. Creativity knows no boundaries and the greatest creativity in our industry comes from those who do something different.

I remember reading an article about John Ford our great director. He told a young cinematographer that when you’re able to put the camera where the horizon is and not in the center of the film you just took your first step to becoming a good director. If you look at Ford’s work, it’s stupendous. He chose some of the most unusual places to put cameras and that is the highlight of his work for me.

I saw a western where he put a camera in the middle of a river because he wanted a master shot of his two stars sitting on the bank of the river talking to each other and the only way to get that scene was to stand in water and shoot it and that’s exactly what he did. It was an incredible scene and it was all one take of about 4 minutes of dialogue.

4-Break Rules

This is what I love about the brilliant filmmaker Werner Herzog.  In the description of one of the classes he taught on documentary filmmaking, he includes lessons on lock picking!  Yes, lock picking is one of the items he teaches

Also, I remember seeing something like faking bureaucratic paperwork.  I’m sure he teaches how to steal shots without getting permits.  He teaches breaking the rules.  

John says sometimes you should consider breaking rules. Because being creative means breaking out of old patterns to create new ones.  Sometimes by experiencing new ways you totally break into a whole new creative place.  

Think about changing things in your daily routine.  Consider, what habits or rules can you break? I know I’ve set a lot of rules for myself.  I must be up at a certain time and I have to do things by the clock.

Perhaps breaking personal rules can get you into a more creative place.  Try breaking some of your rules this week and see how you feel, does it free you?  It’s all for the sake of expanding your creativity!

5-Use Your Imagination!

All of us have brilliant imaginations. Please use this like you did when you were a kid. When you were a kid, anything was possible, you could be anyone and do anything. Don’t let the collective unconscious tell you that you can’t do what you want to do!  Who cares if no one has done this before?  What is it that you want to try?  We need to believe that anything we can conceive, we can achieve.  How is that for a great mantra?  Anything I can conceive, I can achieve!  This is using our mind to create our future.

Here is another idea. Imagine how other people would do it. Think about your favorite director and imagine how he/she would set up that shot.  This could be a lot of fun for you. Also think about the qualities you admire in people. Who do you respect for creative achievement? 

Pick a role model, someone you would like to emulate.  Perhaps Jane Campion, Baz Luhrmann, Orson Wells, Fellini, Spielberg, Kathryn Bigelow, or Sophia Coppola.                                                                         

Once you pick a role model, imagine this person is in your position faced with your problem or challenge. Imagine this person in your body because your imagination is not bound by real world constraints.  Let this person be in your body and take over your situation. 

He or she is now able to live your life, what would they do? Let’s say if Orson Welles took over your body and you said “Orson how do I solve this problem?” Just listen for the answer. This is a fun thing to do.

You might want to ask some of our greatest producer’s, actors, writers, directors, important questions. Think about it, they would not be bound by a lot of things that you consider important. They might jump immediately into something unique and unheard of. This process can be valuable to move out of self-imposed restrictions.  

John Kehoe quotes the book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and says that Napoleon would choose nine men whose lives and life work had been most important to him like Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford, just before going to sleep at night. 

He would close his eyes and see in his imagination this group of men seated with him around his counsel table.  In these meetings Hill said, “here I had not only an opportunity to sit among those who I consider to be great, but I actually dominated the group by serving as chairman.”

Napoleon Hill did say this was all his imagination and the ideas generated through this process were very real and “they led him into glorious paths of adventure and wealth.” This process helped Hill to become a very wealthy man.

And the last creative tactic for a successful life is:

6-Fill the Well

Nurture yourselves. Please take good care of yourself.  Think of how you can treat yourself better.  Are you eating the best food?  Are you taking walks and exercising daily? 

Please realize that fun and diversity are great stimulators for the Muse within.   Give yourself gifts, like flowers, facials, massages, lunch at a new restaurant.   Or even give yourself time to read a great book. Just getting away from filmmaking for a few hours a day can make you more creative.


Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits

Recipe for Film Funding Success

As shown in the new HBO Max Julia Child Series, the ingredients to achieving your goals include a burning desire and belief in yourself

by Carole Dean

I love the film reviews in the New Yorker magazine. Recently they had a review on a new series on HBO Max on Julia Child. It told of her extraordinary rise from a humble housewife who had written a cookbook to the crown jewel of PBS programming slate.

film funding success

Every night my daughter Carole Joyce and our friend Tommy Adams and I watch a movie. I thought this film would be something they wouldn’t like so I started watching it by myself.  I found it to be lots of fun and now all of us are watching it.

What is clear from this series is that Julia Child created her future.  She wanted that television show. She made it happen.

And the tools she used are available to you to achieve film funding success and get your film made.

Cook Something Up.

It all started when she was invited to go on the PBS station WGBH in Boston to be interviewed for her cookbook.   At the interview, Julia walked on to the set with a shopping bag full of stuff and plopped it down next to her chair.  When the well-known book intellectual, who was appalled at having to interview her asked the first question, Julia started unpacking her bag. 

She promptly crawled on the floor with her rear facing us while she plugged in a hot plate.  Then, she began to make an omelet for everyone to see how simple it was.

By doing this, she stole the show.

Ask For What You Want.

This interview happened because a WGBH associate producer at the bottom of the production ladder somehow found Julia and invited her on the show.  After this interview, Julia took the initiative and wrote this producer and proposed a cooking show.  

That associate producer knew she could have a hit show with Julia.  After all, Julia’s impressive creation of a three-egg omelet on camera had generated 13 letters to WGBH from people saying they loved Julia. The associate producer took the letters into a meeting and began pitching a Julia Childs show.  She said that the mandate for WGBH was education, and a cooking show would be perfect for them. 

The head of WGBH liked Julia and asked the head producer to run the numbers for what it would cost to do a show with her.  The head producer did, invited Julia back, and told her it was too expensive for them.

“No, sorry,” she told Julia, “We can’t do the show.”

Julia replied, “Looking like I do, has taught me to never take no for an answer.” 

That “no” was the beginning of a negotiation for Julia!  What determination that shows us, right? 

That’s a good lesson for all of us.  Had she not sat there and talked this out with the top producer she would never have gotten that show.

Be Bold and Go for It!

When the producer explained that he said no because of the enormous cost of building a set with a working kitchen, Julia Child said, “I’ll pay for that set if you will do the show.  In fact, I’ll pay for the whole show.”

This changed WGBH’s mind.  She was set for one show.  Now, the problem was that when she agreed to pay for the kitchen set, she did not even look at the budget for the amount. 

Once out of the meeting, she saw the cost.  She realized that she did not have enough money.

Get Creative Finding Funding.

Even though her father was very rich, she had to do cooking classes on the side.  She had to use her cookbook income and still she was in the hole for money. 

She told her female friends how much she wanted to cook on TV, and they rallied around and helped her.

To achieve this show, Julia, like all of you found creative ways to get the money.  You do the same thing.  You find people who love you and love your film and they give you their heart and minds.  Right?

The astonishing thing is that Julia didn’t own a TV set.  When she went to buy one, the HBO Max series showed Julia standing in front of 20 television sets in a store.  Each TV had a different program on them. 

As Julia stood there, she began to see herself on TV.  Soon, every TV in the store had Julia Child on it.

Send Your Visions to the Universe.

This is the visualization that I discuss with our fiscally sponsored filmmakers in our Film Funding Guidance Class.  Our job is to teach you how to visualize to create your future. This is exactly what it takes to create your future.

Julia took the initiative.  She wrote the letter she saying she wanted to do a TV show to teach Americans how to cook like the French.  She did not take no for an answer.  This was her vision; and she was relentless in getting that first show made so much so that WGBH came on board.

Remember, she had to learn how to cook for the camera.  She had to learn how to stand in front of hot lights, be original, humorous, and keep our attention while she beat eggs or stirred her cakes.  Although she made mistakes, that was the best part of the show.  She was human! 

She captured us with her honesty.  Everyone quotes her for saying, “You are all alone in the kitchen. No one but you knows what goes on.”

We saw chicken parts flying across the room and flambés light up like a three-alarm fire.  We saw her cut herself and keep on going while she was bleeding all over the WGBH kitchen.

That’s when Dan Ackroyd began to mimic her on Saturday Night Live.  Her career took off like a NASA rocket to the moon. 

I found this HBO film, Julia, to be empowering.  It is a true representative of what it takes to be an independent filmmaker.

It takes talent and tons of guts.  Never give up is a good mantra for all indie filmmakers!


Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits

The Passionate Pitch

Tips from Authors and Scholars on How to Successfully Pitch Your Film Project to Land Donors and Investors

by Carole Dean

One of the best books for filmmakers seeking funding is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill.  In his book, he explains how 500 men became wealthy by using the concepts he describes. 

Pitch Your Film

The key to selling your film to others is your faith. You need to have unwavering faith in yourself, in your film, and faith in your ability to pitch your film.

Many filmmakers want to become successful and rich.  They want knowledge and riches.  So why not use the material that made so many other successful people?

Film Pitch Advice…From Gandhi?

In a chapter on faith, Napoleon Hill shares the story of Mahatma Gandhi. Starting his career as a lawyer in India at the dawn of the 20th century, Gandhi eventually became a leader and inspiration for hundreds of  millions in India and around the world for civil rights and freedom.  

He writes that Gandhi wielded more potential power than any living man at that time despite the fact that he had none of the orthodox tools of power, such as money, battleships, soldiers or materials of warfare.

Gandhi, Hill writes, had no money, no home, no suit of clothes, but he had power. How did he come by that immense power?  He created it out of his understanding of the principle of faith and through his abilities to transplant that faith into the minds of 200 million people.

This is very similar to your job as a filmmaker, which is to create faith in your potential donors when you pitch your film.

You want people to believe in you and have the faith and believe that you can perform and deliver a successful film on time and on budget. They want to believe that you will successfully complete your film.

Have Unwavering Faith in Yourself

The key to selling your film to others is your faith. You need to have unwavering faith in yourself, in your film, and faith in your ability to pitch your film.

I have many filmmakers call me for questions and when we’re talking, I often say, “pitch me your film.” They say well I’m not good at pitching, but I will read you what I have, or I will try to give it to you.

This is not what it takes to fund your film.  People must hear your enthusiasm, your confidence.  You need to learn how to sell your film with your pitch. Don’t miss a good opportunity to pitch your film for any reason.

You want to have total faith in you and your film. If you do not have faith in yourself and in your film, people will feel unsure about you.

You’ve Got Just 30 to 60 Seconds

Your film pitch should be part of your DNA. You always need to carry it with you.  You need know in every fiber of your being, that you can successfully pitch the Queen of England or the homeless man on the street. That faith inside you will come through in your language, your eye contact, your posture.

You want to be excited about your film and let me hear that excitement in your voice. Your whole body should light up when you start to pitch because you are talking about your precious art.

Albert Mehrabian is a Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, who researched the importance of verbal and nonverbal communication.  He says that people make decisions within 30 to 60 seconds of meeting you.

The first decision they make is whether they like you and trust you. That’s the most important decision they’re going to make.

You must get through that like-you-trust-you barrier in order for you to get a donation or a discount or the best DP for your film. Everything you want comes from the way you pitch your film.

People Give Money to People, Not to Films

Professor Mehrabian says that 55% of your potential donor’s decision is made by how you present yourself.

Do you have direct eye contact? Can you look someone right in the eye and pitch them without ever wavering and show total confidence and total belief in you and your film?

He says that your posture is important.  You must sit up straight be proud of yourself and carry yourself with dignity and confidence.

I know from pitching donors for the grant that you want to feel 100% confidence in yourself. You’re asking someone for their hard- earned money.

The point is that people give money to people not to films. That’s what they think.  They decide if they trust you and then they give the money to the film.

Keep in mind that you are the film. When you are pitching your film, it is part of you, and your goal is to make people feel they can trust you.

You may not realize that your body language gives off subliminal clues that your donor will pick up immediately. You need to be absolutely relaxed, confident, assured that you will be able to raise the money for the film. Any doubt that you have could be detected easily by donors.

Calm Down, Chill Out and Be Your True Self

While your physical actions represent a 55% chance of success or your audio, your voice represents 38% of the decision-making process to your donor.  This is based on what you say and most importantly how you say it.

You need to be excited and thrilled about your film. You need to be spreading this joy and happiness and success to the donor.  Make them want to be part of your film.

If you are the least bit depressed, sad, or not in a good mood, don’t go to a meeting and don’t get on the phone to pitch someone.  It may be the only opportunity you have with that person.  Don’t take a chance.

Just say this is not the day and then get yourself back in shape because you must be happy, successful, joyful, confident, and thrilled with the opportunity to share the information about your film. 

Your voice is an important decision maker for them. If you seem disinterested, slow down too much, or if you’re dragging your feet and pausing too much in your delivery, you will turn them off.  They will feel that you are not confident.

If you’re not excited about a project, how can they get excited?

You want your pitch to be so well delivered that you have no doubt that you can fund your film and that you can create a film that is even better than they can imagine.

To do this, you need to get across to the potential donor or investor that they can trust you. They need to like you and trust you.

Practice, Practice, and then, More Practice

Now the shocking part of Mehrabian’s information is the percentage given to the pitch. What percentage of persuasive power is in the words of the pitch? Only 7%. So, this is a very important number for you to realize. Your posture, your confidence, your belief in yourself are the key to funding your film.

The most important thing is to create faith for yourself and in your film through your posture, your appearance, your voice, your enthusiasm and finally through the words of your pitch. The best way to do this is practice and more practice. A good mantra for you to keep saying is “Practice makes perfect.”

Tom Malloy who has raised more than $25 million practices in front of the mirror. That’s right, he’s an actor, yes, but he’s also a writer, a film producer, and now he has directed his first film.  All of that is due to his belief in himself.

Tom knows that you must be excited and passionate when you pitch. Your passion really should help you be exploding with high energy.  You want to be able to answer any questions quickly, confidently, assuredly, and never say oh well that’s not my job that’s what the accountant does. 

Your job is to know everything about the film. You should know the budget inside and out and be prepared to defend every line item. You should know everything about your team members be very proud of them and the prior work they have created. Everything is a matter of faith in yourself and in your film.

Convince Your Subconscious That You are Living Your Dream

Author Neville Goddard was one of the pioneers of the concept of The Law: “imagining creates reality.” He says that to get your dreams to come true you must believe they already exist.  You need to pretend that you are living the life you want. 

Believe that you are the greatest film presenter in the world.  You are getting checks hand over fist.  Once you start visualizing this and “feeling” into this confidence and success then you want to imprint this on the subconscious. 

The importance being that the subconscious mind runs the show. It believes everything that the conscious mind tells it.  For a filmmaker that is wonderful. 

Just imagine a story where you are pitching to high network individuals and rich donors and getting large checks.  Take that believe and energy into bed with you at night.  Start playing a film of your successful pitch and see checks being handed to you.  Play this for the conscious mind while you are feeling like that is your current life.  The conscious takes this to the subconscious and you shore up your confidence from inside.

What would your life be like if you were having a wonderful time raising money, it’s easy for you, it’s a joyful experience?  Tapping into that energy and nightly giving it to the conscious mind as the current situation, you will get this imprinted in your subconscious and things will begin to happen for you.

Mantras for Your Mirror

Consider putting these mantras on the mirror so you see them every day.

I am perfect at pitching my film.

I love myself.

People know I am dedicated to my film.

People see me as a talented award-winning filmmaker

Put your faith in yourself and in your ability to make this film and achieve the aims that you have set out for yourself. 

Your future is waiting for you.


Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionHer new class “How to Fund Your Film” is available on Vimeo on Demand.  She is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

Setting and Achieving Goals in Uncertain Times

How to move your film, film career, and life forward through an unsettled future

by Carole Dean

This is a special moment in all our lives. Nearly all of us are hunkered down at home during a pandemic.  How do we continue with our lives and keep funding our films with daily cancellations of events and the fear of being close to people and of even going out? 

Now more than ever, we need to focus on our future.  We need to have goals and the confidence we can reach these goals after we emerge safe and secure from this crisis. 

Filmmaker Pandemic

Film shoot on hold? Film festivals canceled? Use your shelter-in time to set goals.

I asked Breianne Pryse to join me on The Art of Film Funding Podcast to give us suggestions on creating and implementing goals.  Brianne Pryse is a natural born intuitive impasse, healer, coach, speaker, and writer.  

She is also a regular on our Film Funding Guidance Classes advising filmmakers how to continue to progress on their projects.  As a lifelong student, she’s been trained in many different modalities. Since 2002, she’s been a full time healer and coach.   

Here is her advice from this interview.

Setting Little, Medium, Big and Almost Impossible Goals

One of the things that I really recommend is to set goals.  But you also must revisit them because sometimes we write them down on a piece of paper and never look at our goals. I believe you must look at them every day or at least every week and you need to be able to connect with them.

I also recommend you have four types of goals. You have the very small ones that you can check off almost daily, so it shows you that you’re getting things done. Then you have the medium goals that have a little bit of work, where you can still check these off easy too.

Then you have the bigger goals where you’re doing a film and working on funding. Getting your film funded may be a big goal.  It’s important that you ask for money and give specifics, like you want to say the dollar amount of your funding goal. Getting your crew, that’s a whole different big goal too. So, you write these down.

Now, the fourth one that I feel is very, very important. It is that you ask for a goal that is just beyond what you think is possible. For example, is your goal beyond impossible possible? And maybe something like, I get an award-winning editor on my film, or I raise $50,000 for my fee. Something just beyond what you think you can do. Because what that does is expand your energy and it helps you connect to the quantum field in a different way.

Examples of Goal Setting

Well, a little goal is, ‘I get up at six o’clock in the morning and write for an hour before work.’  ‘I spend a day without going on Facebook and wasting time.’ Goals like this are good because it tells the universe that we’re in, that we are serious about our goals and we’re making changes.

And it’s all about change. Right now, we are in a very, very high energy year. So that means we need to keep on top of things, or we will get swept away in the negativity and in the craziness, which we do not want to do.

So, these are examples of small productive goals. And then medium goals may be that you write a certain number of pages that day or that week. Because as a filmmaker, most of the time you’re writing your script or you’re writing your promotional material or emails or grants, etc.  And put down actions too.  Ones like I contact three people today for funding, this is also a medium to large goal.



Why “The Secret” Did Not Work for Many People

I attend a lot of classes where we are told, ‘Oh, you just sit in the chair and you say you’re a millionaire and millions come to you.’ And we know that’s not true, but it is absolutely true that we can create anything we want. We just need to get out of our own way.

It’s feeling into the energy and talking about it to the universe. And just looking at the numbers like, let’s say I need $100,000 for myself. Okay, I’m going to choose to go for this. All right? And then you create that goal and then you start asking questions of the universe. 

What energy can I be today, universe, that would create this? Where can I go to find this funding? What can I do today in this moment to really, really get progress on this goal?

Because what also happens with goals is, as we set expectations.  We all do it regardless of whether we admit to it.  Sometimes we get disappointed because our expectations are not met in the timeframe that we would like. So, the more we can just be in the energy, talking to the goals, allowing energy to move and showing us and asking the universe to show us what’s stopping us is a really, really big thing.

One of the big exercises that you can do is, get a journal, and draw a line down the middle. On the right you write what is happening. And on the left you write what you would like to happen.

An example is, I write on the right I have more bills than income. And on the left I write I would like to create money to pay off all my bills

Now you start asking, okay, so what am I doing wrong? What is going on that is creating the opposite?  And just see what happens and what you hear because the universe is happy to tell you the problems, but we need to be open to hearing it.

Sometimes the universe makes you aware of where you’re overspending, where you’re emotionally spending, where you’re not allowing other people to contribute to you. Now you can write these down under what you don’t want and then you start looking at the behaviors that you can change to solve the problem.

Setting Boundaries for Yourself

One of the biggest things I ever learned was setting boundaries.  Here’s what I recommend people do.

Before you get out of bed in the morning you take a deep breath.  Say, ‘I hear by now and forever on all levels of my being set 100% healthy boundaries on people, negative energy and negative self talk.’ Then, take a deep breath and blow it out.

This pushes people’s energy out of your field. Now you add anything and everything to that. If you’re fighting with an ex, you put boundaries on that person, on their energies. If you’re doing negative self-talk, if you’ve got a specific thing, like your relationship like with your mother. You can put boundaries on your relationship with your negative self talk relationship with your mother. And if you start doing that, that will help you get clear thinking.  You can focus more on your goals and be present in the now.

The more you can set the boundaries, the more you can think clearly. And it was life changing when I figured that out about 15 years ago. Now it also helps when you are feeling great and then you’ll talk to somebody and you feel like you were hit by a bus. That’s a boundary violation. So, you walk away, you say I set 100% healthy boundaries on that person and all their energies and then inhale and exhale and remove it.

Carole, I love your filmmakers and I believe that film is one of the few forms of freedom of speech we have left. Through films people are more willing to look at important issues. I think it’s awesome and  I love and I support the work you do at From the Heart Productions.


Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits

A Good Colorist is the Wizard of OZ

When you realize what a colorist does, it’s easy to understand why no one knows they exist. 

by Carole Dean

Sam Dlugach won our Roy W. Dean Film Grant in 1996 and is one of the best colorists in LA.  He has over 30-years’ experience working with all types of films.  Sam works for a major production company, but moonlights helping indie features and documentaries. He generously gives us his time to serve as a judge for the grant and donates he services to the winners. 


I recently interviewed him for my The Art of Film Funding Podcast and asked him how to help filmmakers understand how important a colorist is for their film. 

What Does a Colorist Do?

Sam equated the coloring of a film as the same as mastering is for audio. After a song has been recorded and mixed, then mastering is the final process before it goes to distribution. That’s like putting the final polish on your films’ audio. Well, that’s what coloring is for the image.

“We can take some beautifully photographed work,” Sam said, “and enhance it just that extra 10% or 15% to make it even more impactful in terms of emotion that we want the audience to feel.”

He explained that no matter what you’re shooting, whether you’re shooting a documentary, short film, or a feature film, you’re probably using multiple cameras, multiple lenses, and you’re going to certainly have all sorts of different lighting conditions. At the very minimum, what a colorist does is make all that stuff match.

Actually, when you realize what a colorist does, it’s easy to understand why no one knows they exist.  When they finish their job, the film looks perfect. Every single shot is lit perfectly, and all your shots match, each scene flows seamlessly, and the audience is fully engaged in the film never realizing all the work the colorist did.

Enhancing the Story and Setting the Mood

“In a more creative sense,” he noted, “I’m part of the storytelling process.  I’m helping the director and the director of photography set story beats in terms of the look of the film, in terms of the mood of the lighting, and the contrast ratio and certainly the color imagery.

“I have a day job where I work on TV commercials, so a lot of what I’m doing daily is emphasizing the product and de-emphasizing the background or bringing out people’s faces. There’s a lot of very specific stuff that I’m doing on a psychological level to direct people’s eyes.

“That same sort of artistry and science works in storytelling as well whether it’s episodic television, or a music video, or short film, or feature film, or documentary. Anything that I can do visually to help tell the story is my main job.”



Matching Scenes and Matching Visions

If filmmakers bring great footage, then the colorist can look great as well.  But many times, filmmakers have challenges on the shoot.

“They may have had problems with lenses, problems with cameras,” Sam explains, “or very different lighting setups from shot to shot that have to be evened out and made to match. It’s a collaborative process at best.  When you’re working with a team of people, if everybody’s got a singular vision of what this film is supposed to be, and everybody’s just working towards that one image, it can be a really great experience, and the rewards for the film can be great.

“I’ve always loved working with filmmakers and directors of photography because I work to achieve their vision.  And a big part of what I do is to interpret what I’m being told.  Some people come in, and they have a better understanding of what happens in the color bay, and some people really are intimidated, or they don’t understand the process.

“It’s my job to deal with all levels of filmmakers and all levels of people that walk into my room and understand what they are trying to tell me so we can find a way to achieve their vision.”

What First Time Filmmakers Need to Know about Working with a Colorist

Typically, after you finish your edit, you would send Sam a version of the edit with a decision list and it will refer back to your original footage.  He creates the edit timeline.  He on the Baselight system and uses a $40,000.00 monitor.  Sam sees everything with this monitor that your audience will see.

The first thing he does when he meets someone new is to talk about the story before he ever looks at the film.  Together with the director he makes notes of scenes and shots by writing down what they mean and exactly how they are telling the story.  They discuss the color journey of the entire movie.

Sam will look at the timeline of the move and talk to the director about the story.  The main question is “what is the story we want to tell?”  They will stop and look at shots of each scene.

“What is the emotional tone?” Sam will discuss with the director. “What are we going for here? How does this flow into the next scene? How does it relate to the previous scenes?” Sam and the director start very basically coloring from raw camera information to a finished look for that single shot.

By the end of the first session when the filmmaker leaves, they should have a good feeling about how the movie will look.  They will have seen scenes from all over the movie that tell the story they have painted together. 

The filmmaker goes away and Sam works for a week or two coloring.  When they come back, Sam will have filled in the holes, done the coverage, and stitched the film together.  Then, Sam watches it with the filmmaker and makes notes to do a trim pass and sometimes a second trim. 

Sam works with people outside of Los Angeles area.  He colored a fiscally sponsored film of ours in Hawaii.  You can transfer files very easily now so you don’t need to be in the same city as your colorist.

Seeking Passionate Storytellers

Sam loves working with independent and documentary filmmakers that are passionate and really have a story to tell.  

“In a perfect world I’m invested in that story too. I care about what they’re trying to say, and so I tend to gravitate lately to unique stories about human nature, about people.” 

Sam wants to work with filmmakers that have something to say about the times we are living in.  “I love working with documentarians because they’re usually trying to right some wrong. They’re usually trying to expose something that needs to be exposed.”

“I get a charge out of working on projects that make a difference, and so I do tend to be a little picky about the projects that I get involved with independently. There’s a great thing about knowing you came through from the Heart Productions. The people that gravitate to what you’re doing at From the Heart tend to be great people and tend to be impassioned storytellers with their heart in the game, and they’re not just in it for the money. They’re not just brazenly commercial. They’re doing something that matters.

Gift to Filmmakers at From the Heart Productions

“I’ve met so many wonderful people from the work that you’re doing (at From the Heart Productions) and from the outreach that you do with independent filmmakers.  I encourage people that are in your program, and your funding programs, and your writers that you work with and filmmakers that find you to come talk to me.

“My door is open, and like I said, advice is always free.  You can reach same at Samdcolor@gmail.com and the time to interview and hire a colorist is early on in production.”


Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.

Lessons for Indie Filmmakers from “Shot by Shot” Author Steven Katz

Teaching filmmaking to Michael Jackson, how let go of the fear of creating, and using your iPhone to create a storyboard

by Carole Dean

The classic book on filmmaking “Shot by Shot: Visualizing From Concept to Screen” is celebrating its 25th year in publication this year.  Author Steven Katz joined Claire Papin and Carole Dean on The Art of Film Funding Podcast

Lessons for Indie Filmmakers

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash – You can create storyboards by shooting photo boards using your iPhone or any other camera to shoot it.

He shared some stories and what he’s learned about filmmaking over the quarter decade since the film book was first published:

What He Taught Michael Jackson on Filmmaking

“At one point, I taught Michael Jackson and I had to be sensitive to the fact that he was Michael Jackson. But, a couple of times after I got to know him, I said, ‘Michael, you can pay for anything.  If you wanted to make a film for $35,000, you can do it!

“And yet, so much of what we’re working on together over these many months, we’re circling, coming to getting started to making a film, why aren’t we making a film every day? Why aren’t we making a film every week?’… And I’m talking about making a short of some kind, that’s how you learn.  

“For new filmmakers, if you’re at that age when you can take weeks off, months off, or use weekends and not have too much else to do except your love of filmmaking, then you ought to be doing that. Whatever is the gene that prompts you to be highly self-motivated and not fearful is good for filmmakers.”

How to Get Over the Fear of Creating

“When I was in China, it’s a very mimetic culture, they copy everything, and it was a difficult habit to break with the artist I was working with. I did bring 20, 30 people to the room and say, ‘Okay, let’s just talk about how you generate an idea, and where they come from.’

“I would just pull people at random out of the class and say, ‘Okay, well how did you get to work this morning? What happened?’ ‘Well I biked, and I did this, and it’s eight miles for me.’ ‘And where did you get food?’ ‘Oh, I did this,’ and out of that, I would start to pick little moments. I would say, ‘What if this had happened?’ And I would build a story out of the events they’d be telling me.

“And the whole point of it was, Hey, every day you do something. Go to lunch and something interesting happened, and if it didn’t happen figure out a place where it could’ve happened and then let your imagination run.

“I think a lot of the fear that people have about going out and just making something, is where their ideas come from and is the idea too big? You do get better at it. You get better by doing small ideas, that’s the first thing you have to learn is, you don’t have an unlimited budget.”



Creative Ways to Storyboard

You have a script. You’re a director, you get this (script) and you’re reading it and of course what’s happening is, you’re having all these pictures in your head.  If you want to say, ‘I want to start with a close-up and I want to pull back and then we’re going to cut to Nancy over here for a close-up. And then we’re going to go wide.’ Well that doesn’t mean very much. It has to be seen visually, so visualization is getting it from where it is in your head, where you see it, onto a new form.

“There are many different ways to do that and storyboarding is one of them. You can go out and shoot photo boards, like you can use your iPhone or any other camera to shoot it. You have a scene in a diner, well get your friends, you’ll buy them lunch and then you go around shooting them from all different angles.

“Now you’ve got all these shots, now you may not even be recording the dialogue, you’re not doing the video either. You’re just getting individual frames. Then you’ll bring back your shots and put them into an editing package. You’ll start to put something together and that’s a photographic version of a story. These are all things you’re doing to be able to present the material to other people, but it’s also for yourself.

“With a pencil and a sheet of paper and you can draw stick figures. So, if you’re a director and you don’t draw, you can make up this very primitive looking thing but believe me, that primitive thing when you write dialogue underneath tells you so much. And what happens is, people say, ‘Wow, I didn’t understand why this didn’t work. I got two close-ups in a row, that’s not good.’

How the Directing Greats Protected Their Work

“Alfred Hitchcock would design all his shots in a storyboard. He would go shoot those shots and he wouldn’t really shoot many alternative ways of doing things. And it was the way he could ensure the control of how he wanted to do his movie and the studio couldn’t step in as they often do today and take control.   So, say you shot 45 different shots, but you only at the end need eight of them. And you can endlessly try different versions of them.

And there was a story of John Ford, I forget what picture, it was with Maureen O’Hara, one of his later pictures. He was being asked in an interview about a famous shot where the Maureen O’Hara’s very close in a carriage, and very, very far away is one of the most prominent characters and they’re silhouetted in the distance and tiny in the frame.

“So, someone asked John Ford… ‘I remember that shot. It was so great, but it was done in such an unconventional way, why didn’t you go and get the close-up? Did you get that? Did you cover that in the shot in case the long shot didn’t work?’ He said, ‘No, I didn’t shoot it’ And he said, ‘Well why?’ He said, ‘Because the studio would have used it.’ “

Just do it!

“Look, you want to become a filmmaker? You’ve got to make films, that’s it. That’s the shortest answer. There are a phenomenal number of resources out there, YouTube, and anything online with courses.

“If, you don’t go to film school another option is to do something like the New York Film Academy. There are a number of those and many of the colleges are now offering shorter programs for people who just want to train to get the basics of filmmaking and they’re not looking for a degree.”


Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-The Art of Film Funding Podcastprofit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcastThe Art of Film Fundinginterviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film productionShe is also the author of  The Art of Film Funding, 2nd Edition: Alternative Financing Concepts.  See IMDB for producing credits.