DCP 185: Team of One Filmmaking with Justin DeMers and Ray Tsang

Filmmakers Justin DeMers and Ray Tsang have a conversation with me about Team of One filmmaking. Many listeners of the Digital Convergence Podcast are solo-filmmakers or solo-creatives, but just because they run a creative business by themselves does not mean they have to do it alone. Justin and Ray are here to help solo-filmmakers thrive in their business. Ray is an Emmy-award winning Director of Photography with a background in finance. He shares his story of turning a hobby he loved into a thriving business as a filmmaker.

Justin channeled his inner Alton Brown and hatched a demented Cutthroat Kitchen-ish plot to film and document Ray tackle a start-to-finish solo video project. The results: over 20 in-depth video lessons themed: Team of One Filmmaking Course (included in the Academy of Storytellers online learning resource for digital media creatives).

Topics covered:

  • Lifestyle business vs growth-oriented business - for many being a solo-creative is satisfying without the headaches of managing a large team.
  • What is needed to be a successful solo-creative?
  • You have to care as much about the organization of the business as you do being a creative.
  • How using spreadsheets became Ray’s “second skill set” - just as important as learning to use Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Pro X.
  • As a solo-filmmaker most of your time will not necessarily be behind a camera.
  • Many get started as a hobbyist and then think about how to make a living doing what they love.
  • Once you start buying gear out of your savings you realize very fast that you need to get your numbers in order and make sure you can make a living doing this.
  • How wedding filmmaking prepares you for commercial and narrative work.
  • The core skills a solo-filmmaker need to master to be successful both creatively and in business.
  • The “Golden Rules” that solo-filmmakers need to master.
  • Use a tool like Calendy or ScheduleOnce to help you schedule your appointments. Save time from back-and-forth emails!
  • Setting expectations with your client and yourself are key for a successful project. If a surprise does happen, you and your client know what to expect.
  • Don’t compare your projects with someone else’s reel. You can’t compare your solo effort to a film made by a large team. This will only lead to doubt and disappointment.
  • Examine how you can make small, realistic improvements in your skill.
  • Set realistic expectations about growth and sales. Modesty is about working within your limitations. Know what you want to do and be comfortable saying no.
  • Details about the Team of One Filmmaking Course in Academy of Storytellers.
  • You may be a solo-filmmaker but you are not alone! There is a group of people who care about what you are doing.
  • The importance of a carefully crafted statement of work (not to be confused with a creative brief).
  • Gear really doesn’t matter (at least not as much as we think).
  • Success starts with pre-production.
  • Justin and Ray talk about what to expect in future lessons coming in the Team of One Filmmaking Course.
  • Ray has been working on a TV show (Emmy award winning) ABC’s Rock the Park - solo filmmaking at it’s most extreme!

You can support the Digital Convergence Podcast and invest in yourself when you join Academy of Storytellers. Click here to join and immediately start watching the Team of One Filmmaking Course today!