I'm currently on a location scout for my next feature film project as a producer.
When I was flying from Utah to Cape Town, South Africa with the director, I shared with him my one metric for making big decisions on a project like this:
It should be easy.
In my experience, when you're trying to force a creative decision like where to shoot, who to cast in the lead roles, and how to best spend the budget, the right decision often is the one that has the least amount of friction.
Let's look at a few examples of big decisions creatives often have to make in their careers:
Full Time or Part Time Creator?
There comes a point in every creative career where you must decide if you are going to "make the leap" from part-time to full-time in your business.
If, when you confront that decision, there is a lot of uncertainty, doubt, and fear, then it's a signal that it may not be the right time.
Instead of "taking the leap of faith" too early, use that signal to better prepare for that leap.
Rather than jumping off and building the plane on the way down, take the time to save up for a parachute.
Save some money, get your business in order, get some systems in place,
Partner or Solo Creator?
There are a lot of ramifications - good and bad - to taking on a partner.
On the “good” side, you can add someone else’s strengths to yours and cover some of the places where you may be weak.
Maybe they’re great at marketing, or finances, or sales.
Maybe you need help in those areas.
In that situation, it may be a great strategic decision to take on or join forces with another creator in a partnership.
On the flip side, however, you have less creative freedom to make any decision you want. You are splitting your revenue, sometimes as much as 50%.
There’s someone else there that can make choices that can affect your business for the good and for the bad.
So, when you have an opportunity to consider a partnership, does it seem easy?
Does it make sense, is it clear how it would work, the benefits of the partnership, and the path to growth?
If not, use that signal to make the easy decision. Maybe you’re not ready, or the business isn’t ready, or you need to rethink the structure of the partnership so that it becomes easy.
Where To Live
In the film business, it’s a common occurrence to hear industry professionals say “move to LA” no matter what the question is.
How do I find a manager or representation? Move to LA...
Yet, that isn’t always the most direct path to success. I’ve produced two movies in the last year and have my third film lined up for this summer, all while comfortably living in Provo, Utah.
The cost of living in LA alone would make that impossible at the rates that I’ve done these films for.
Yet, every time I was presented with the chance to move out there, it didn’t make sense.
“How will we afford the housing there?”
“What about the commute?”
“Are there more opportunities given the increased competition?”
Every time, it seemed easier to stay. Not because I was afraid, but because the path to the business and life that I wanted was more direct - easier - if I stayed here.
That doesn’t mean that won’t change in the future, but for now, it gives me comfort in the decision I’ve made so far.
What To Do Now
This principle isn't perfect - there are certainly times that this doesn't apply, or that you need to take even more time and be more thoughtful.
But this principle provides a direct path to a decision when you need it.
Decision-making is one of your most important skills as a creative professional and the owner of your business. Learn how to make the decisions that will help you get closer to the future you want for yourself and your business.