This is a guest blog post by award-winning, uber-successful wedding and event filmmaker, and good friend, Brett Culp.
With every film, we are expressing a dream.
No matter what type of client we are working for, we are communicating a dream. In wedding films, we convey a bride & groom’s dream of love and a family’s dream of hope. In a corporate film, we give voice to a business owner or president’s dream for the organization.
In early 2012, I was considering how often I had used my skills to cinematically express the dreams of other people during my 15 year career. I realized in that moment how rarely I was expressing MY OWN DREAMS! It made me frustrated and excited and angry and motivated all at the same time.
I vowed that I would no longer allow busy schedules & life stresses to steal my personal storytelling dreams. Rather than constantly reacting to the pressures of my business, I would become proactive. I became committed to controlling my destiny as a cinematic storyteller.
I scheduled some specific, extended time to THINK about my dreams. Over a period of weeks, I realized I had a specific story I wanted to tell. And it deserved a feature-length documentary.
I had NO Hollywood connections. I had NO wealthy partners. I had NO experience with funding or distribution.
But I had a dream that would not leave me alone.
I had an idea for a documentary film that truly inspired me. I found myself thinking about it while I was brushing my teeth. When I was supposed to be working, I was thinking about this film. And several conversations with my wife were ruined when I realized that I hadn’t heard the last 2-minutes of what she was saying. (This was NOT good!)
To keep the idea from dominating internal self, I needed to give it some room to breathe in the outside world. I started making notes about how I would accomplish it. I searched through my music library for songs that would embody the tone of the film. I searched Google for more information, more insights, more inspiration. My Kindle became filled with free sample chapters from authors who I might interview. With every step, the dream became more real. It was clear that the film in my head could be made. And I knew I was the one who was supposed to make it.
I spent 3 months developing the idea. No filming, just concept development. Instead of watching the newest addictive TV show, playing video games, or watching sports, I visioneered a movie. My client’s dreams got my daytime hours. MY dream got my evenings.
I created a 2-page document that outlined the idea. I began circulating it to the people I wanted to be involved in the project.
I made a 90-second teaser that expressed the vision of the project.
In April 2012, we launched a successful crowdfunding campaign to get the project rolling. I communicated a clear vision of what I wanted to do, how I would do it, and how the finished film might look. Raising the funds to make my dream a reality became a part-time job during the campaign, but I felt very blessed to connect with many like-minded people who contributed. The energy spent during the campaign also created awareness for the film that continued to build throughout the year.
Throughout the spring, summer, and fall of 2012, we scheduled and filmed shoots all over the country while balancing our regular clients. It was difficult, but rewarding.
And, we have just launched the 3-minute trailer for our film and a Kickstarter campaign to finish the funding for post-production.
This is by far the most difficult and ambitious thing I have ever done. It has challenged my skill as a filmmaker and a producer. It has expanded my ability to be creative with my art and my management solutions. It has pushed me to learn new skills. It has been the source of my highest highs and my lowest lows. I have shouted with joy and felt like punching walls. It has been the most extreme experience of my life. And I have been living with nervous energy since the day our first funding campaign in April 2012.
I highly recommend it to you.
Perhaps your dream is to make a film. Or maybe your dream is totally different. Whatever it is, the world will not be complete until you release it. Until you let it out and give it some room to breathe.
My dream is currently alive and growing. Like a child, you never know exactly what it’s going to be until it is fully grown. I am eager to see who chooses to join our crusade in this newest campaign. I can’t wait to see the finished film that is slowly being chiseled out of our 120 hours of raw footage.
But I have faith in my vision. And I have faith in yours.
One of the greatest gifts we can give is supporting each other’s dreams. In this moment, please hear me say this to you:
Your dream is good. The world needs it. You can make it real.
Don’t finish the journey with your dream still inside you.
Music for the Trailer was composed by Dan Phillipson & provided by Triple Scoop Music
The story behind the making of the film
You can support Brett’s film at the “Legends of the Knight” Kickstarter page.
Check out Brett’s inspiring words on the Radio Film School podcast.
Brett Culp is an award-winning filmmaker, storyteller, speaker, and father. His client list includes many well-known companies and famous people. His work has appeared on lots of TV networks. Brett has appeared on Entertainment Tonight and Martha Stewart Living. A chapter of the college textbook “Documentary Storytelling” is devoted to his unique production style. He made his first Batman movie at age 13 with action figures & a stop-motion camera.