HOLLYWOOD FORMULAS… (3 Common Sense Film Rules… I love #3)


Life, like Hollywood, has very simple rules for happiness to live by (i.e. Be nice; Act with love; Trust God; Work hard. etc.) and if you want to Produce, Write or Direct feature films and be happy…The key is “and be happy”… then be patient, use common sense, apply these very simple 3 Filmmaker Formulas (aka: rules)…. and “Happiness is almost *guaranteed.”

(PS: nothing is ever guaranteed…but it is likely)

Happiness (“Happiness”, a 1998 Philip Seymour Hoffman film)

Life today, more-and-more, has one driven by the need and desire for success and instant gratification.

We’ve had 40 years of being marketed to with phrases like “Go For The Gusto”, “Life is Short”, “Success is For Takers”, “Live Life To The Fullest”, “Just Microwave It”, “Just Add Water”, etc.

And what these phrases achieve, more than not, is in making one feel inadequate, incompetent, less-than and in-need of a magical elixir (the promoters product) to fix the inadequacy….instantly.

This instant gratification or validation appears in the film industry with phrases mumbled like “If only I could Sell this Script”, “Why doesn’t anyone believe in me”, “My idea is Great”, “I just need”, “I just want”, etc… and if I get it, sell it or access it I’ll be fulfilled & happy.

Whoa Nelly. Life is already great. God, whatever form it is to you, has his/her act together. Thus, slow down, be patient and if you approach Filmmaking & Hollywood with any, if not all, of these common sense formulas, plus a work ethic, which can’t be taught, then you should succeed.

Be patient.

And with respect to the film industry “Be patient, supportive & productive.” “Be patient, supportive & productive.” “Be patient, supportive & productive.”… is a mantra that should lead to success.

However, in Hollywood, a very competitive industry based on self promotion, it is hard to be patient, supportive and productive.

The first question to always ask yourself…”Would you rather be comfortable or be successful”.

Pick one… and I bet you go for comfortable…. for truly is being successful without comfort worth it.

Now, I’m sure you’re saying “But I can have both” and yes you can have both “but not at the same time”.

Be patient.

First, in Hollywood as well as life, work at (A) being realistic by (B) living within your own skin, (C) working hard, (D) being supportive and I truly believe (E) success with comfort will come and you will, in Gods time, have both.

In a moment I will apply this productive-patience approach to Filmmaking, Budgeting, Screenwriting, Producing & Hollywood….

Here’s the bottom-line: “Hollywood is not a fad. Hollywood will wait for you.”

There will always be movies. Point. Period. End sentence.

The movie industry (aka: Studio System) is getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Yes, Major Distributors (Sony, Disney, Paramount, 20th, etc) are making less and less but the internet is demanding more and more, the revenue streams are growing and growing as China is building and building and the world goes global with product placement, merchandising and licensing revenues increasing every year.

Plus, always remember this, “the movie industry will never ever disappear as long as the family structure still exists.”

Huh? Why?

Movies are and “always will be” the cheapest form of entertainment when compared with (1) Music Concerts, (2) Live Theater and (3) Sporting Events. Therefore the movie industry will always exist as long as the family exists.

Here’s what I mean… As long as the family exists (1) Children, especially teens, will always want to get the heck out of the house and (2) parents, by-the-by, will always want to get away from their children… and the least expensive form of escapism and entertainment is and always-will-be “movies”.

Thus, movie theaters, as long as there are families, will always be here. And, as long as movie theaters are here, they will always need product.

Thus, please be patient, but be productive. Don’t sit back and wait for life to come to you but be productive, participate and good things always happen…but maybe not on your schedule or your time clock….but good will happen if you participate.

Now let’s apply some common sense, be patient, rules to Hollywood, Screenwriting, Filmmaking & Producing and garner success.


Don’t be impatient. Be productive. Move your fingers. Learn and grow.

SCREENWRITING: In Hollywood everyone believes that if you have a talent for writing, which is a gift of dialogue (aka: Good Ear), keep writing, developing your skills and learning your craft that you will sell your 4th Script.


Now, there is only 1 way to Sell your 4th Script… WRITE YOUR 3rd.

There is only 1 way to write your 3rd script… WRITE YOUR 2nd.

There is only 1 way to write your 2nd script… WRITE YOUR 1st

…get the point.

I bet most of you are now saying “I’ve written my first” but you probably have only written your 1st Draft of your 1st and if you have done that without (1st) a Treatment, (2nd) a Beat Sheet and (3rd) Coverage then you haven’t even written the first draft of your first script. So be patient, be productive, keep writing, learn your craft.

Be patient: Hollywood will not disappear. Hollywood will wait for you. Hollywood needs writers, who (A) understand the craft and (B) have a gift of dialogue. Thus, keep writing, practice your craft, develop your skill and more than likely you’ll sell your 4th Script.

Be patient.


Your idea is great but you are not starting at the top.

FILMMAKING: The formula is simple…Start at the bottom.


If you want $200 Million to make a feature film, then 1st make a $20 Million feature film.

If you want $20 Million to make a feature film, then 1st make a $2 Million feature film.

If you want $2 Million to make a feature film, then first make a $200 Thousand feature film.

If you want $200 Thousand to make a feature film, then first make a $20 Thousand feature film.

If you want $20 Thousand….then “get a frickin’ job (Starbucks is hiring) and save”.

Again: Please be patient, start at the bottom, don’t make a short, make a feature film, develop your storytelling skills with marketable vehicles (features not shorts), demonstrate your talent and you will grow…with comfort.

Be patient.

3rd: THE PRODUCING (Common Sense) FORMULA:

Be realistic, start at the bottom & make what you can afford.

PRODUCING: Budget for comfort and what you can afford.

The Affordable Producing Formula is… “BUDGET x 50% x 10% = HAPPINESS = SUCCESS”

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EXPLANATION: Want comfort & success? Then don’t reach to far (to high a budget, i.e. $1-$2 Million, $2-$3 Million or $3-5 Million), even if you can finance the project, it has stretched you beyond your means, made you uncomfortable, out of control and when uncomfortable and out of control I truly do not know how you can either enjoy yourself or demonstrate talent.

Thus….To budget for your first feature film use (see above) common sense formula and (A) Write down a dollar amount that you think you will have to Produce or Direct your first feature film. “WRITE DOWN A DOLLAR AMOUNT!”

…Now, (B) accept that you are reaching too far and (C) cut that budget in half (50%).

…Now, take that number and (D) move the decimal point one place to the left (10%)…and Voilla!

This is affordable, this is comfortable, it will force you into creativity, the financial pressure is off, and you’ll have a fun shoot.


Because if you lose every penny it will not hurt your lifestyle…not that you desire to lose every penny…the pressure is off. And, with no pressure you will “have fun”.

Example: If you think your Budget should be $500,000…which you think is Low-Budget. Assuming you can finance it, I guarantee that the investors want the $500,000 back and spending this amount of money, when you’ve never done this before, will have you uptight, nervous and anxiety ridden. NOT FUN. NOT FUN.

So my advice is, for your first feature film, not attempt a $500,000 budget.

…Now, to have fun take that $500,000 and (B) cut it in half (50%) and you have $250,000,

…Now (C) move the decimal point one place to the left ($25,000)…and you now have a budget for your first feature film (1-week, HD, 1-location, 90-page script) that is affordable, with little-to-no financial pressure, that you will have FUN WITH.

Life is about fun, as you work and are productive with $25,000 and make your first feature film (1-week Shoot, “Blair Witch”, “Saw”, “Paranormal Activity”, “Clerks”, “She’s Gotta Have It”, etc.) while demonstrating your talent and you will likely succeed (nothing is ever guaranteed) but more important be comfortable and happy.

Be patient.

Keep writing, be realistic and start with a “Micro-Budget” feature film… Now demonstrate your talent with minimal funds and make a feature film that makes a profit, as you help others, and I believe you will be comfortable, happy and successful.


Do you have another Common Sense Film Rule? If so please share.

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4 comments on “HOLLYWOOD FORMULAS… (3 Common Sense Film Rules… I love #3)”

  1. RobinBeth says:

    My husband has currently has 4 scripts waiting to be discovered. He has directed and co-directed 3 films, 2 released by Sony. When is the money going to come in? And when is the next directing or writing gig?

  2. Amos says:

    Robin, how much did Sony pay him?

  3. Angeline says:

    Thanks. It was interesting and good timing to read your good advice after feeling a sense of ‘what am I doing this for ‘ moment I had prior to seeing your link on LinkedIn recently
    I guess I needed to be reminded of the facts.
    I believe that the reason of why I am seeking a feature film is the reason why I can succeed. It is what you mention
    I have a reason to seek film as a writer and that is first and foremost ‘giving’ and not scared of working from the bottom up or finding a break through as it may come and usually does at the most unexpected time.
    I wrote my novel based on a true story that I started writing 30 years ago and only published in 2014 so I have been patient and invested in a treatment and film marketing plan and am actively learning and seeking ways for film interest in Josie Released From Within. Who knows what is around the corner if God willing.

  4. Henry Larry says:

    A refreshing reminder to embrace patience and persistence in the pursuit of success both in Hollywood and in life. Starting at the bottom and working up seems like timeless advice worth heeding.
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