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By Hammad Zaidi | July 2, 2013

Hey filmmakers! I hope you’ve been well. My weekend was filled with balloons, piñatas and one hell of a big-a*s cake. That’s right; my daughters Lena and Zoe turned two years old this past Sunday, and their party was nothing short of being forever memorable. So, Zoe, Lena, Happy Birthday once again! Your mom and dad love you more than you can imagine!

Okay, now on to our topic at hand: Choosing Your Alpha Dog!

Every filmmaker I’ve ever met (including myself) is guilty of one thing: assuming all of our projects are worthy. That’s simply not true. Just like a litter of puppies, we all have our “Alpha Dog,” but we also have our “runt of the litter.”  However, the key to success is to know which one is which. So, today’s column shares a bit of insight on how to choose which one of your projects is best suited to represent your budding career.

It’s Not About You; It’s About Your Career
While this statement may be a touch confusing, the truth is what’s good for you may not be what is good for your career. For example, you may someday write a game-changing screenplay that an army of A-list actors and directors wake up their agents past midnight to try to attach themselves to, but in most cases, those members of Hollywood’s upper crust will not want you to direct the film, and they usually will want one of their trusted writers to rewrite your stellar screenplay. While you could stick to your guns and demand you direct your own film, doing so will most likely kill your deal. Thus, should you find yourself in the envious position of having Hollywood’s elite knock on your door with their checkbook in hand, you might want to consider their buyout offer very closely. While selling off your “baby” will mark the end of your involvement (outside of the contractual rewrites), it will also sharply increase your value as a creator and writer. Thus, if you care more about career longevity than you do about satisfying your immediate desire to direct, then take a look the big picture and realize that securing one “above the line” credit on a studio release is worth far more than ten credits on a smaller picture.

What Genre Do Film Professionals Think You’re Good At?
Many talented filmmakers and writers are good at writing or directing more than one genre, but they are usually only great at one of them. The problem is, admitting to yourself you’re not phenomenal at any aspect of your dream career, isn’t the easiest pill to swallow. That’s why you should swallow that pill. Hell, you shouldn’t even get that prescription. Instead, you should ask the agents, executives and producers you’ve submitted to in the past, and ask them where they think your talents lay. While you may be surprised with their answer, try to keep an open mind, because doing so just may open a whole new avenue of creativity (and income) for you.

Which One Of Your Projects Is Easiest To Cast?
Your favorite project may not be your most commercial piece, and if not, you’re doing your career a great disservice by pushing that project ahead of your more commercial properties. Thus, you should take the time to consider the casting viability of each of your projects, and find the one that A-list actors are most likely to gravitate toward. I know what you’re thinking; you have no interest in wrangling an A-list star for your cutting edge indie gem. Even if that’s the case, if you write something that A-listers will yes “yes” to, then rest assured you’ll have your pick of the “indie actor” litter.

Simply put, you’d be really smart to cast the most financially marketable actor or actors you can find, because all that really matters is how much money your last film made. If you don’t have a pervious film, then all that matters is how commercial your project is perceived to be. Trust me on this one; don’t be ashamed to promote your most commercial project, because if your first voyage isn’t perceived to be a success, then if will be near impossible to get healthy funding for your second film.

Which One Of Your Projects Propels You To The Next Level?
If you view your career your as if it were a game of Donkey Kong (a classic Nintendo arcade game released in 1981), then you can keep focused on getting your to the next level, regardless of the pitfalls along the way. You’ll have to deal with the occasional unplanned attack, and the ground beneath your feet may feel shaky at best, but remember, success always tastes sweeter when you’re forced to digest a few bitter pills along the way. Thus, when considering which project should be forever tied to your name as your maiden voyage, you should lasso the one that has the best shot to elevate you cinematically, socially, and of course, monetarily.

On that note my friends, I thank you once again for lending me your eyes, and I look forward to borrowing them again next Tuesday. Until then, wish all of you a very happy and safe Fourth of July holiday! As always, I can be followed on Twitter @Lonelyseal.

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