“Personal Branding” Your Way to Success


It seems like everyone has an idea that would make a great film or TV show these days. Hopefully you do too!

But do you ever wonder what your chances are of actually being able to quit your day job?

Well, let’s take a look at what’s going on with the famous Writers Guild in LA-the WGA. To be a member you have to be a working writer at a professional level already-their total membership is about 7,900.

And do you have any guesses as to how many of these competitive and connected professionals are actually being paid to write in any given year?

In reality it’s only about 3,850. Yes, that is only HALF of the writers in the guild who are working and getting paid.

This means that for every two writers who have proven their talent, made the cut, stood out, and been hired once by an established TV or film company, ONE OF THEM WILL NOT FIND EVEN ONE MORE PAYING GIG!

No wonder it’s hard to get representation these days.

What’s more, there is a lot less work going around: the already sluggish writer employment fell by another 11% as a result of the recession, with 226 professional screenwriters out of a job.

These statistics are staggering. Yeah, it’s competitive out there, and it’s getting more so all the time.

So where does that leave you and the other emerging talent? The ones who are either just starting out professionally or who are making a move toward their ideal creative career?

The odds are stacked against you. There’s not a lot of room at the top, and there are already many younger, better-connected people out there (and by the way, if you ARE one of those people with a father who’s a big-time producer or whatever, please stop reading. I appreciate that you’re interested but this letter is not for you. We’re here to fight for folks like us, who have to work hard and make things happen for themselves).

So… back to YOU. What can YOU do to beat the odds, make a name for yourself, and then build a lasting career and a body of work that people appreciate and recognize the world over?

Lasting success as a filmmaker boils down to 3 simple things. (1) Create great material (so if you’re a writer, it means be a GREAT writer who creates stuff people want to see). (2) Be great to work with. This is deep inner-game stuff and probably the most important thing you can work on (if we work together I’ll share with you some of my greatest tricks and insights in this area). And (3) BE INTERESTING.

What??! How do I “Be Interesting”?

At Voyage we use a cutting-edge process called “Personal Branding”. Keep reading and I’ll tell you what the heck I mean…

For starters, let’s go over what a personal brand isn’t: The word “brand” might suggest cliches, like having to wear a certain kind of shoe, get a fashion-victim haircut and always wear black, i.e. pigeonhole yourself in some way or another. To be clear, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about letting people know what you have to offer and giving them a reason to find you fascinating (so they talk about you with others, who talk about you with others….so on and so forth).

The point of personal branding is to be memorable—to stand out based on an expression of your authentic self and a connection with what your audience really needs. Diablo Cody (Juno) is a great example of a screenwriter who expresses her authentic self all the way to the bank. You’d recognize her dialogue style anywhere—it’s original, wry, edgy, never Little Miss Muffet—and her audience finds it refreshing. Writers and directors have a great advantage because they are used to creating characters with distinct voices and the work of personal branding is to find their unique character.

The 3 dimensions of a personal brand:

1. Your Voice—what do you sound like, and why? Are you valley or country? Business-like and high-powered or easy as a Sunday morning? Accessible or mysterious? Professorial or neighborly? Real and relatable or larger-than-life?

2. Your Values —how do you work? Do you aspire to produce material that is refined and traditional like that of Clint Eastwood or whimsical and experimental like Michel Gondry? Do you love the past, the future, or the endless possibilities of a comicon-style “alternate earth”?

3. Your look and feel —What’s the style of your web series, youtube channel, twitter feed, and website wallpaper? Dark and edgy? Clean and modern? J-Pop?

Finding your own personal brand can be REALLY HARD. It’s kind of like having a director cut the trailer to his own movie – they can’t do it! In fact they are literally the worst people for the job! They know too much about the full story to know what audiences will find compelling in 2 minutes or less.

In the end, like all great brands, you want to be able to tell us who you are and what you have to offer in 7 words or less (it’s all our busy brains can handle!) Coke is “the pause that refreshes”. Maybe you are “a midwestern Woody Allan” or “the king of Comicon”. Figure it out out. Know it. Live it.


Register... Lost your password?