Thursday, March 26, 2009

Laughing; Watch our latest films; Testimonials; How to Raise Money!!

Hey hey everyone,
First off, do this: I want you to give a hearty belly laugh for 60 seconds.  Yes, 60 full seconds of ho ho hos, ha ha ha, and hee hee hees.  Do it right now, and then come back and I'll explain why you just did that.
Okay, if you did what I asked, and laughed for a full 60 seconds, then you are out of breath right now, right?  And your heart is beating faster.  And you can feel the blood running through your veins.  You may even feel a little light headed.  And most importantly, you probably feel a lot better, and have a whole lot more energy, right?

I read about this the other day in a book called, "A Whole New Mind", and the point is that doing 60 seconds of laughing gets your heart beating just as fast as if you did ten minutes on a rowing machine.  And don't you feel great? So do it once, twice, three times a day!  You'll be glad you did.
Second: Watch our latest films at!  The second Actors Film School class is DONE, and the four films are now available for viewing as part of the AFS Online Film Festival. =2 0They are as follows:
"Open Call" by Caroline Poppell
"808 Latin Heist" by Monroe Mann
"Dear John" by Curtis Nielsen (Will be up early April)

The coolest part?  We all act in each other's films!  So you'll see my smiling mug in all the films, as well as the mugs of each of the other filmmakers.  And this summer, I am planning to unveil the Unstoppable Artists Film Festival in Manhattan, and each of these great films will be screened there, in addition to those submitted by the public that qualify.  More info coming soon.
NOTE: There is room for one more student in the next AFS class starting on April 18th.  Rebecca Thomas and Carl Kelsey have already registered and we're looking for one more ambitious smiling face!  Do you want to be a part of the NEXT AFS film festival?  Join the class today and I'll make sure yo u finish your film and get it up there!
Third: You have GOT to read some of these testimonials from past students.  Here are three from the latest class:

Testimonial # 1: by TONY JERACI - Class of January 2009
His Film: "Hummusity in Desperate Times"

"Actor's Film School is truly one of the most unique film schools out there.  I have yet to find a more rigorous eight-week program that will teach you all the essentials of do-it-yourself filmmaking.  Small classes that provide close attention and hands-on learning was the best part.  Also, after completing four shorts in two months, you'll feel confident to pursue that feature film you've been holding on to.  I can't stress it enough: after this class, you will know how to be (and if you want to be) a filmmaker.  Monroe's class covers it all, from the early stages of pre-production through the final elements of post.  Whether you're a novice filmmaker looking to learn the basics, or someone who's worked on films before but wants to get four short films under his/her belt, then I highly recommend taking this class."
Testimonial # 2: by CURT NIELSEN - Class of January 2009
His Film, "Dear John"

As an actor, I've had no better, in-depth training in the medium of film than Actors Film School.  While directing, shooting and editing my own film, I analyzed the different takes of my own performance. I realized the power and limits of the camera, lighting, and angles, and how to most effectively enhance the power of my acting. I've learned what the editor needs, and what makes the director thrill -- because I've worn all those hats in completing my own film and working on those of my classmates.  And, through Actors Film School, I've had the good fortune of working with people who've completed their own highly regarded films and shared their invaluable expertise.  Where else can an actor gain that confidence and on-camera training so affordably and quickly (and have so much fun doing it?) I put a star in my pocket with the Actors Film School experience and would recommend it to anyone who may considering it.

CAROLINE POPPELL - Class of January 2009
Her Film: "Open Call"

I would definitely recommend this course to someone who wanted to learn the basics of making a movie.  This course has not only given me the ability to make a feature, but I now have the confidence.  Stay tuned for my feature- "Risk-Free Departure" in 2010!

Read more testimonials at

Fourth: Trying to raise money?  The other day, it dawned on me how much I have learned about money and fund raising and all that.  This is what I wrote to a few of my closest filmmaking buddies:
"Hey Boys & Girls

So excited.  In a couple weeks, I am going to be a securities expert.  For the last few weeks, I have been studying like a dog everything I can find on Reg D, PPMs, Form U-7, SCORs (small company offering memorandums).  I've been talking to my law professors.  And this May, I am taking my Securities Law course at school.  I have over the last couple of days also been talking to various securities attorneys.  Finally, I have started to become intimately familiar with every possible federal and state form necessary to legally raise money, EASILY.  I kid you not.  It was really complicated at first, but now, I am starting to fully understand it--and damn, it's really awesome.  On Monday, I am speaking with the securities divisions in both NY and CA, because even if you can avoid the SEC (which we can), you often still must complete Form D, and submit it via EDGAR (gov't da tabase) to each state in which you plan to raise money.  I also still have a $5000 retainer with a securities attorney in Los Angeles (long story) who has been helping me along the way to understand everything---long story why I gave this attorney $5000, but ultimately, it is now proving to pay off nicely.

Anyway, I just thought I'd let you know that my gut feeling is that by the end of April, I am going to be a fund-raising expert.  I am going to be a fund-raising machine.  And most importantly, I think my knowledge is going to serve us all.  And as for me... it's time to raise that money I need for my first feature film. :)
The point of that email is that fund-raising comes down to only ONE thing, and it's a simple five letter word.  That word is TRUST.  Notice that I underlined it, put it in italics, AND bolded it?  That's how important that word is.  
They key to raising money is eliciting TRUST from your potential investors.  You need to--as quickly as possibly--impress upon people that you can be trusted; that you are not going to abscond with their money; that you more so than anyone else has the highest likelihood of bringing back not only their money, but a RETURN on their money.
That is one reason why I am in law school and business school: those degrees instill trust. 
That is one reason why I am learning all about regulation D, rule 504 private placements--not only what they are, but how to write them up myself: presenting a private placement prospectus in front of an investor instills trust.
That is one reason why I continue to make short films: the more of them I do, the better filmmaker I become, and that too instills trust.
Get my point?  You need to do whatever possible to get people to trust you with their money.  If they believe that money in your hands is an investment (rather than charity), you will find your money.  Heck, your money WILL FIND YOU. 
Funny story: I taught a Guerrilla Networking workshop the other day at AFTRA.  In the first 5 minutes, 6 people left.  The remaining 60 or so stayed until the end.  Afterwards, Joyce Korbin (who runs the program) told me, "Do you know why those 6 people left?  They said it was all about you, and that you were talking about all your accomplishments."  On one hand, perhaps I do sometimes go on about myself, BUT... I was trying to establish credibility and trust.  And I imagine that is precisely why the other 60 people STAYED.  On one hand, sure, perhaps I can make the beginning of the seminar more about 'them', but the whole point of Guerrilla Networking is 'becoming the type of person other people want to meet'---and20that's what I was trying to do.
Fund Raising Lesson # 1: you are never going to please everyone, so don't try.  I would rather please 60, and piss off 6, than be boring to all 66 people, right?  So be true to yourself and say it like it is.
Fund Raising Lesson # 2: don't be afraid to tell people about your accomplishments.  Yes, some people are going to think that you are bragging, but most will be impressed by what you have done, and subsequently trust you even more--and thus potentially invest in your projects.
Fund Raising Lesson # 3: don't be a beggar; be an entrustor, i.e. be someone that investors will want to entrust their money to.  Look around.  Does your prospectus instill trust?  Heck, do you even have a prospectus?  Do you even know the difference between a prospectus and a business plan? (FYI, a business plan is an internal document to get a loan or to run the company; a prospectus is an external document used in conjunction with a security offering.)  Does your background make people want to invest in you?  Have you DONE anything that would make people trust in you?
Fund Raising Lesson # 4: learn about private placements.  Especially regulation d, rule 504.  Did you know that in most situations, if you are raising money from people who are not actively involved in the operation of the company, then it is not 'fund-raising' but rather a 'securities offering'?  Yes, you are selling stock, and if you do not comply with some very stringent rules, you could be guilty of illegally selling securities---not cool!  :)  So learn what you can about private placements now---once you do, not only will you be 'legal', but you will have all the tools you need to raise money efficiently, and professionally---cause when you present a properly created Private Placement Prospectus, it screams, "This guy knows what he's doing."

Fund Raising Lesson # 5: ask everyone!  The person you ask may be able to invest.  If not, that person may know someone else who is able to invest.  If not, maybe someone else will overhear you talking and is able to invest.  Get the point?  Here's my point, in case you missed it: you meet and interact with on average 100 people each day.  Instead of just paying the cashier and giving the mailman your mail, tell them what you are doing, and that you are seeking investors.  You might surprise yourself with how 'well connected' you already are.
Bonus Fundraising Lesson: investors invest in people, not projects.  It doesn't matter how great your script is, or your music, or your business idea; what matters is YOU, and YOUR track record, and the track record of the people who make up your team.  If you don't have the skills, then get those who DO on board your team, and add their bios t o your prospectus.  People invest in people; not projects.  Never forget that.
Meet you at the top!
P.S. - The next Actors Film School class starts on Saturday, April 18th, and there is only ONE more spot remaining.  Check out for more info, and if you're interested in career and financial coaching, check out

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