Nearly a century ago, a brilliant author spurred by a self-made millionaire, provided a path that others have followed to build great businesses and obtain their dreams…including me
by Carole Dean
“The scientists of today think deeply instead of clearly. One must be sane to think clearly, but one can think deeply and be quite insane.” ― Nikola Tesla
This is a great statement for funding films. Clarity of thought and purpose are paramount to success in any venture. Especially in the film industry.
I was invited to Portland Oregon to teach my book, The Art of Film Funding, and after the event I stayed to talk to filmmakers. Everyone wanted to pitch me, and I love this part of filmmaking.
One couple told me that they were raising funds to go to Australia and create a film on the mating habits of leaches. I immediately started laughing, thinking they were joking. I thought they were saying to me, how can anyone pitch this film? However, I soon realized they were serious. In fact, very serious, and so I gave them my card and asked to please let me know how their funding worked for them.
It was about six months and I got a post card from Australia saying they raised the funds and were there shooting! So, look at how easy it is to pitch your film compared to raising money for a film on leaches. If they can find the money for that film, you can certainly find it for yours.
Filmmakers are Entrepreneurs. They are Business Owners.
In our bi-monthly Film Funding Class we are reviewing the book, Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. It’s amazing how many people have cited their business success came from Napoleon Hill’s information. This book was published in 1937, can you believe that? It has been selling for almost 100 years.
This book conveys the experiences of more than 500 men of great wealth who began with nothing and became wealthy. All they had were ideas and clearly defined visions for what they wanted to achieve. Napoleon Hill tells us how they were successful once they understood, the “secret” that his book contains. With this information they were able to achieve their goals.
Let’s see how this can help with film funding.
In the beginning of the book, the author, Napoleon Hill, reminds us that riches cannot always be measured in money. Money is wonderful and gives you the power to help those in need but some of the greatest riches can be in terms of lasting friendships, harmonious family relations and understanding between business associates.
I totally agree because I relish my relationships with people in the film industry. To me, this is one of the greatest joys life has to offer, having good associates in business with a loving family surrounding you and long-term friendships which you will find in our film industry. Just know that the people you meet in the industry will be here with you and as you grow in achievement so will they. You are always connected to them.
For example, I took filmmaker Jahangir Golestan to independent film distribution guru Peter Broderick back in 2005 with his documentary on the earthquake in Bam, Iran. I have been friends with Peter since then.
Keep everyone’s card. Always keep up with the new people you meet in the industry. They are friends and you want to stay in touch even if you only see them once a year. This is the business of film. Always remember, this is a business and they are your business associates.
Andrew Carnegie Commissioned Napoleon Hill to Teach his “Secret” to Those Who had a Vision
In the beginning of Think and Grow Rich, the author, Napoleon Hill, relates a conversation with Andrew Carnegie who he calls, “the lovable old Scotchman.” In the early days of the 20th century, Carnegie famously overcame his poor beginnings to become one of the richest men on earth. When Carnegie realized that Hill quickly grasped Carnegie’s secrets to wealth, he asked Hill if he would be willing to spend 20 years preparing himself to share the secrets to the world.
Carnegie wanted this information placed within reach of people who do not have the time to investigate how men make money. He believed the formula should be taught in all public schools and colleges. Carnegie came to this decision after hiring many young men with little schooling and coaching them in the use of this formula which allows them to develop excellent leadership qualities. His experience with a young Charles Schwab and other ambitious men convinced Carnegie that much of what is taught in schools is of no value whatsoever in connection with the business of earning a living or accumulating riches.
His coaching made fortunes for everyone who followed his instructions. He does say that the secret cannot be had without a price. It cannot be given away it cannot be purchased for money. Mainly because it comes in two parts and one part is already in possession of those who are ready for it. I believe that is a burning desire to achieve something which all of us have. This secret equally serves those who are ready for it.
Just How Committed are You to Your Vision?
I know this to be true. When I was married and raising a child at home, I could see that there was a market for those little old short ends of film left over from production. I knew there was a business buying and selling them. Once I started that business and got it moving, two engineers came to me to be partners and finance them in the business of buying and selling used video tape. I agreed that this could be a good business. I could see how it would be easy to sell and knew I could do it.
We were already selling used 16mm film stock to TV stations and now we would have another product for my existing customers. I thought it would be easy and sometimes that’s the best way to think. If I had known how difficult this expansion was, I would never have done it. I think that’s how the universe tricks us sometimes, we don’t know how much there is to do to achieve our visions and that’s why a true dedication to your vision is needed.
Another reason I jumped for this idea is that I had no failure history. I had no one telling me I could not do this. Those things help. So, I said yes, I will go into business with you. I had an office in Studio City and one in NYC. They wanted to put in time and their knowledge of video tape as cash to buy into the business and I was to cover all expenses.
All of this was agreed on as I would house them in my office but when we came to the final contract they said no, we want to do this in our office north of LA. I said no, I can’t get there often, it’s too far. They withdrew their agreement.
I was left with a machine to repack 2” video tape called a Recortec that at that time cost more than a Mercedes 450SL. I called the company to return the machine and they said sure, but you will pay a 20% restocking fee. Woah!! That was a hefty fee on top of my lawyer’s fee and the time I put into this expansion.
So, I had a talk with myself. If I believed in this business before why do I not believe it now? I know I can do this. Now the doubts came up. You don’t know tape. You will have to learn the technical qualities, the language and only heaven knows what else, I thought. This is not easy. Then I caught myself and said, I can do this! So up to the home office of Recortec I went to learn about the machine and how it worked.
They picked me up from the airport and we were in their office at about 10am. When the salesman started talking, I thought I had just arrived in some foreign country! I did not understand a word he said. So, I began stopping him asking what is a relay? What is a diode?
Needless to say, they took me to lunch at 11am! Then put me on an early plane home. The owner called me to say that if he had known I was a woman they would not have sold me the machine. Being from Texas and growing up in the “good old boys world” I always signed my letters as C.L. Dean, so most people thought I was a man. Sorry guys, but this helped me to meet a lot of people and learn much more.
What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Do?
I decided that I should get this machine out of LA and take it to NYC where I could put it in my rented brownstone and work on it, night and day as Cole Porter would say. I did just that and I hired a woman with engineering knowledge who had worked for NBC. She and I began to figure what this machine could do. We ran tests, if you clean tape once you get this percentage of drop outs. If you clean it twice you get less. So, some of the tapes we cleaned 10 times. Eventually we found that twice was good enough.
We were all celebrating after we made a break-through sale of tapes to a top Ad Agency in NYC. They loved the tapes at first, then called to say that they played them back once and then there was no signal. They said it’s like someone took off all the oxide. I think I know who that someone was.
To learn more about tape, I took myself to Montreux, Switzerland to go to a video tape convention. On the first morning, I had my yellow pad and pens and went to this lovely hotel, walked into this room with about 150 engineers, and I was stunned. They were all dressed in black, with white shirts, most had black horn-rim glasses and plastic pen holders in their pockets next to their slide rulers. There was not another woman in the room.
I was so shocked that I just asked the universe for guidance and I went to a row and walked over a dozen people and sat by a man in black with the plastic pen holder. I began to listen to the speaker, and I took notes. The speaker said CCD more than anything else, so I asked this man next to me what is a CCD? He said, “a charged coupling device.” I said, “what is a charged coupling devise?” and his face lit up with a big smile.
He said, take lots of notes and I will explain everything. I had found my engineering angel. With his education, guidance, and my determination to get my money’s worth from that machine, my company became the largest recycler of video tape in the US in 5 years.
So, this is the first part of the secret. You have a vision, you have a strong desire with a clearly defined goal, once you have this then you are ready for Napoleon Hill to give you “the secret.”
Once You have an Idea, a Vision, and are Confident You can Do It, What’s Next?
Now back to Think and Grow Rich. We can learn from the success of these normal men who became wealthy and successful. Knowing what they did and how they did it can only aid us in producing our art and achieving financial success.
“Education has nothing to do with it,” Napoleon Hill says. The secret had found its way into the possession of Thomas A. Edison and he used it so intelligently that he became the world’s leading inventor although he had but three months of schooling. This secret was passed on to a business associate of Mr. Edison and he used it so effectively that although he was there making $12,000 a year, he accumulated a great fortune and retired from active business while still a young man.
Many of the men that Napoleon hill researched had very little high school let alone college. Henry Ford never reached high school. Hill says as a final word of preparation before you begin the first chapter, “may I offer one brief suggestion which may provide a clue by which the Carnegie secret may be recognized? It is this – – all achievement, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea! If you are ready for the secret, you already possess one half of it, therefore, you will readily recognize the other half the moment it reaches your mind.”
Now you want to fund your film or documentary, so you have half, you have an idea that you want to achieve, i.e., the production of your film. Now, it is only a matter of finding how this works.
Having the Conviction to ask for What You Want and Expect to Receive It
This is our first clue. Thoughts are things and powerful things when mixed with persistent purpose and a burning desire to transfer these thoughts into riches or material objects. We want to remember how powerful our thoughts are.
Thoughts are energy. Today science can read your thoughts with a machine that doesn’t attach in any way to your body. A machine near your body can pick up your thoughts they are electric they are alive. They can bring you want you want or don’t want, it’s up to you.
The introduction of Hill’s book covers the story of Edwin Barnes, “the man who thought his way into partnership with Thomas A. Edison.” Hill says that we must learn “that thoughts are things.” And powerful things when they are mixed with definitiveness of purpose, persistence, and a burning desire for their translation into riches or other material objects.”
Edwin Barnes wanted to work with Edison not for him. This is another part of the secret, clarity of thought; know exactly what you want.
Young Mr. Barnes had two difficulties, one he did not know Mr. Edison and two, he did not have enough money to pay his railroad fare to Orange, New Jersey. However, Barnes was so determined that he traveled on a freight train and presented himself at Mr. Edison’s laboratory and announced he had come to go into business with the inventor.
Years later, when Mr. Edison talked about their first meeting, he said Barnes looked like an ordinary tramp. But there was something about the expression on his face which conveyed the impression that he was determined to get what he came for.
Edison was a smart man and he saw that “special something” in Barnes. He thought this man was willing to do anything to get what he wanted and Edison was open to receive.
So, let me ask you, are you open to receive what the universe has to offer you? Think about this and get open to receive. It comes disguised sometimes.
Though Barnes was disheveled and poorly dressed, it was his intent and his strong desire that caught the attention of Edison. Because of the young man’s traits and total determination, Edison gave Barnes a chance.
I guess that’s what my engineering angel, Eugene Leonard, the inventor of the Chyron, saw in me; determination, and a will to learn. Whatever it was, he knew I could create this video business. He saw something in me that allowed him to put in an enormous amount of time teaching me.
Creating Your Future Means Living as if You Have Achieved Your Goal
Napoleon Hill said the most important thing was what Barnes thought. He believed that he could become a partner with Edison. His intent was so strong that it overrode his financial condition at the time. Desire wins above all else.
Barnes did not get a partnership with Edison at first but he did get a chance to work in the Edison offices for a nominal wage and this gave Barnes an opportunity to display his “merchandise“ where his intended partner could see it. Every day Barnes continued his thought of being Edison ‘s partner. He did not give up his vision and daily saw himself as his partner.
An opportunity came but it was not what Barnes was expecting. Edison had perfected the Edison Dictating Machine and his salesman were not enthusiastic over this machine because they didn’t believe it could be sold.
However, Barnes knew he could sell it, so he suggested Edison give him a chance and he did. Barnes was so successful in selling these dictating machines that Edison gave him a contract to distribute and market all over the US. During this time a sales statement was created that said: “made by Edison and installed by Barnes.” This business alliance lasted more than 30 years and Barnes became very rich. Hill said Barnes proves that one can think and grow rich.
To recap: Barnes had a clearly formed idea. He knew exactly what he wanted. He had the purpose and determination to get to Edison’ office and let Edison see his commitment to his genius. Edison took advantage of this by hiring Barnes and it brought them both a consider amount money.
The secret here is that Barnes would never give up his belief that he could be an associate of Edison’s. He kept that believe even though he was not sure how it would work out. This is where we can use our knowledge of current quantum physics and understand that there are literally millions of ways that things can happen. You and I can’t think of them we can only think of a few ways, but the universe has a broader scale on everything. The fact is his determination, his desire and his clearly defined future are what brought Barnes success. He knew he wanted to be a partner with Edison and he made it happen.
What do you want with all of your heart? Find that. Write it out so you have a clearly defined goal. Begin to live as if it has already happened. Know that thoughts are energy and your thought are all positive, your thoughts coincide with your goals. You are confidence you can do this.
Do what you need to do to achieve your goal on a daily basis. Keep the universe thinking you already have this in your life. Then pay attention to what the universe sends you and be ready to receive.
Carole Dean is president and founder of From the Heart Productions; a 501(c)3 non-profit that offers the Roy W. Dean Film Grants and fiscal sponsorship for independent filmmakers. She hosts the weekly podcast, The Art of Film Funding, interviewing those involved in all aspects of indie film production. Her 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.