One of the most valuable exercises I took part in last semester was the “five-year plan.” Sounds self-explanatory, doesn’t it? That’s because it is! The five-year plan is a document designed to help you organize and plan your next moves, over the course of five years. I think this is a relevant topic to discuss, not only because of the New Year, but also because, as creatives, we need to somehow structure our lives in order to get the most out of them.
So what exactly is a five-year plan?
As a filmmaker, a five-year plan is a way to structure the next five years of your professional life, with a distinct focus on upcoming projects, festivals, and overarching goals. The structure for my plan can be seen below, with brief descriptions of each section:
Year (2016, 2017, etc.)
- Action: A list of actions that you will complete within the year. These are plans that you know are 100% feasible if you apply yourself and take the necessary steps to fulfillment. (Example: Submit my two completed films to at least 20 festivals, Oscar Qualifying and not).
- Goal: A list of actions that you hope to complete within this year. These are plans that are possible, but require a lot of hard work, perseverance, and talent. (Example: Place as a semi-finalist or better in a prestigious screenwriting competition [Nichols])
- Caution: This is a section where you warn yourself of the pitfalls (minor or major) that may affect you this year. This can be as tangible or intangible as possible, but remember to write this section, as it will help ground your aspirations in reality. (Example: Don’t get comfortable with my job-job or Don’t break into your savings: necessary for move to LA)
The most important notes in my personal five-year plan involve furnishing a reputation. This may include promoting my finished films or obtaining an agent or manager to represent me. The key is that most of your actions and your goals will be interconnected. That goal from year one? Well you better complete that, or that action from year four will be impossible. This shows just how important it is to plan ahead while you can.
Life often gets ahead of us. Looking back at a solid plan will help us stay on track and see where we are headed, even in the times when it might not seem we are headed anywhere. If you haven’t made a five-year plan of your own, I would suggest doing so right away!
Some goals to consider:
- Secure an agent or manager
- If you’re a writer, get at least four features done within your five years
- Get paid writing opportunities and move closer to joining a union
- Do an apprenticeship or mentorship
- Submit those films into festivals
- Move to LA, or don’t, but choose!