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3 Big Mistakes Scooter Made On His First Feature Film

Hey, I'm Scooter. I make movies and videos.

This is my face.

This is my face.

I'm the co-director of the upcoming documentary Hoaxed: The Media's War On Truth with Jon Du Toit and produced by Mike Cernovich. You can watch the trailer below:

I'm very excited for the film and blessed to have this opportunity to work with such creative people like Jon and Mike. As we've been gearing up for production, I've been reflecting on some of my biggest mistakes I made on my first feature film "It's In The Blood", starring horror icon Lance Henriksen.

Dont get me wrong, I'm proud of the film. It was the adventure of a lifetime. Those that liked it really liked it. Dread Central called it "one of the finest and most unique independent horror films in recent memory."

But...there's a reason it currently ranks as only a 3.2/5 on Amazon.

My mistakes are your birds.

My mistakes are your birds.

If you're about to embark on the grand adventure that is your first feature film, here's some things I did that you should avoid.

3. Scooter didn't fail fast enough.

From start to finish, it took me about four years to ship It's In The Blood.

Unless you're Stanley Kubrick or making Lord of the Rings, that's way too long to spend making a movie.

Kubrick took more than 60 takes of the scene in the Shining where the camera simply slowly zooms in on  Scatman Crothers  in his bedroom.

Kubrick took more than 60 takes of the scene in the Shining where the camera simply slowly zooms in on Scatman Crothers in his bedroom.

Being a perfectionist will kill your career. You have a 0.74% of getting into the Sundance Film Festival. Your chances of scoring a distribution deal are even lower.

Let me blackpill you further. Despite It's In The Blood

  • winning several grand prizes 
  • being an official selection in dozens of mid-tier festivals
  • and scoring distribution

after all was said and done, it was a challenge for me to even get an internship in Hollywood.

It wasn't until I was at my lowest point -- broke and reeling from a failed relationship -- that I prayed to God that He would open doors in my life.

Lo and behold, I soon got a call from Open Doors ministries and got the opportunity to make my next project, a documentary on a bible smuggler in the Middle East.

All in all, my struggles also inspired me to start my own production company. And I found a wife too!

At the same time, I was inspired by a podcast from Mike Cernovich to change my mindset. So on a whim I drove to San Francisco to meet him and support his film Silenced: Our War On Free Speech. That relationship has now led to my next feature film project and several new clients.

Maybe it'll be easier for you. I hope so.

But odds are, no one is going to notice your first film. That's ok! This is your opportunity to improve as a filmmaker and develop the foundation you'll need to make your later films pop. The struggle will make you a better director and person.

To succeed, you need to fail faster.

2. Scooter didn't keep it lean enough.

The production budget for my feature film was $400,000.

With that amount of money, I could have made four feature films or dozens of short films.

A great filmmaker and friend Stu Pollard told me to do just that. But out of an overabundance of self confidence (e.g. pride) I ignored his sage advice and put all of my eggs in one basket.

You're probably not going to have that much cash on hand for your first project. Don't be upset. Be grateful! Limitations are fuel for creativity.

Anyway, production value is overrated. Unlike when I started out, today you can make a movie with your iPhone. And if it's your first project, you should!

I highly recommend you follow No-Budget Film Guru Mark Stolaroff. He's made several amazing short films for next-to-nothing.

1. Scooter didn't connect with his audience.

If you're like me, you generally are more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. You get turned off by social media, self promotion, and "the business" side of the arts.

My advice? Grow up!

This is the greatest time alive to be an independent filmmaker. Why? Because you can directly connect with your audience. There is no middle man anymore. With the crowdfunding sources available, you can get financed directly by your fans.

And no, your work will not "stand up on its own". If you don't believe me, take it from a marketing genius who built one of the most influential brands from nothing:

People buy from people, and they fund from people. Your work will never stand on its own. People want to connect with the artist or creator. This is especially true in the current year.
— Mike Cernovich

The truth is the documentary I could have made about the making It's In The Blood would have been more successful than the actual film.

More than that, it would have led to higher engagement and a better chance at getting my next project off the ground.

My favorite part of the entire filmmaking process was talking with fans after a screening of the film. Seeing how my work affected them made me realize why I got into the moviemaking business in the first place. One man had lost his wife to suicide the previous year and thanked me for making the movie.

I will do whatever it takes to make sure I can connect my work to the people that need it most.

My mistakes are now happy accidents that I will use for your benefit on Hoaxed: The Media's War On Truth.

Leave a comment below and let's meet! You can also find me on Twitter.  Join my email list and get daily filmmaking tips, updates on Hoaxed, and more.