The Lean Filmmaking meetups

Just for some context, my brother David and I organise a meetup group called Lean Filmmaking Melbourne. We started it in 2012. We’re currently the largest filmmaking meetup in Australia.

I seem to be getting a few emails from members in our group that read something like this:

Hey Kylie,
WTF is your meetup about? Its seems pretty touchy feely. Can you get me a job in the film industry or not?
Cheers,
Confused

Here’s the short version of my response.

Hi Confused,
I totally understand that it may be hard to figure out what our group is about. We’ve created an alternative process for making films so we run a lot of experiments and try heaps of new things. If something works, we keep doing it and try to improve. If it doesn’t, we stop doing it and move on. That’s part of the reason we’ve now have a blog — to explain ourselves!
We want to disrupt the film industry. We encourage creators to take control of their projects, go directly to their audience and avoid the gatekeepers. If you’re only interested in finding a traditional film job then this probably isn’t the group for you.
Cheers,
Kylie

This is the long version of my response. Just warning you, it’s reeeeeally long. Make yourself a cuppa and find a comfy chair.

Hi Confused,
Thanks for your email. We love getting feedback so that we can improve.
We’ve applied lean and agile methodologies from other industries to the filmmaking process.
These are the Lean Filmmaking key concepts:
Work in small cross-functional teams that have the combined skills to make a film (including a marketing/audience development person.)
Focus on the story first before adding production values
Find an audience early and fast
Continuous productions cycles (i.e. keep making iterations of the film to learn about the audience/story as you go rather than getting everything “perfect” and shooting it once without ever speaking to an audience.)
We believe in running lots of experiments to test out ideas, learning by doing and failing fast. That’s why we’ve hosted so many different types of meetups. We want to see what works and if it doesn’t we change and try something else.
Currently we are running these styles of meetups:
Q&A (approx once a month)
We interview creative people doing cool stuff and who share our values. The focus of these meetups is on practical “how to” advice and there’s always lots of time to ask your own questions.
There’s not much time for networking as it’s about getting the most value from of the guest. But lately we’ve been going to a local pub afterwards for more informal film talk and drinks, which peeps seem to like.
Micro-Pitching & Networking (approx twice a year)
We’ve experimented with a bunch of different ways to run pitching events. It seems that people really want this type of event but it’s always been a challenge to consistently find enough people to pitch.
Our current format of Micro-Pitching is low-risk and open to all levels of experience. You don’t even need to have an idea to come along! We go through a process to do it together on the night. everyone pitches for 30 seconds and gets feedback in small groups. It’s at a pub. It’s a fun. It’s fast-paced. You also get to learn a little bit more about how Lean Filmmaking works in a practical way.
There’s heaps of time for networking and since you’ve already met half the room it’s easy to make conversation.
“Let’s Talk” Feedback Sessions (approx whenever I have time)
These are short, hands-on, brainstorming activities to understanding people’s motivations around filmmaking. We always want to delve deeper to ensure that Lean Filmmaking is solving real problems. This meetup definitely isn’t for everyone. That’s why we purposely schedule it in the afternoon and limit the number of attendees. We’re really grateful to the people who come along and give us valuable insights that help the whole community.
All these above meetups are free. David and I fund them out of our own pocket using money that we earn in our day jobs. It’s important to us that these meetups are accessible to all. That’s why we encourage creatives from all backgrounds and any level of experience to join in.
Other Events (ad hoc)
We’re always on the hunt for exciting events to inspire our community. But we’re also focused on doing, that’s why in the past we’ve organised workshops, hackathons and masterclasses. We don’t know what will work until we do it. If people come along then we keep doing it and improving with feedback. But if no-one shows up then we chalk it up to a great learning experience and move on.
Some of these events are free but some have a ticket price. It just depends on the venue hire and other associated costs. We’re also looking for like-minded partners to help keep ticket prices accessible.
We’re passionate about changing the film industry and that’s what drives us to organise this group.
Like most things, you get out what you put in.
Some people come to our meetups, find collaborators and are off making interesting stuff. Some people like to have a great chin wag, learn new things and be inspired by other creative people. Some people come along, think we are full of shit, and don’t come back again.
All of these outcomes are totally fine with us.
We just want to provide a viable alternative to the mainstream industry for those people who are ready to do things differently.
We don’t have all the answers. In fact, we’re more interested in asking different questions.
We want to shake up the film industry. Our ideas are radical and definitely not yet accepted by the majority. We’re on the bleeding edge looking for other mavericks to be part of this journey.
We understand that we’re not everyone’s cup of tea.
If you’re interested in a traditional career, doing things the way they have always been done, then this probably isn’t the group for you.
(BTW — I used to play by the rules and worked in the industry for over a decade. You can read about my experience and why I’m so keen on Lean Filmmaking in blog post “I’m a real filmmaker”).
Filmmaking can be a tough gig. Even the best talent in this country have to fight to get their projects up. It’s insanely competitive and government funding models are being gutted. At Lean Filmmaking we believe there is another way. It is also rather nice to have support from a fantastic community of like-minded people.
We’re super excited about the future of filmmaking. We hope you’ll join us. But if not, we totally get it.
If you read this far, thank you. You rock.
Cheers,
Kylie

Originally published at leanfilmmaking.com on June 29, 2015.

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