To my artist friends: 8 reasons not to pay for that next course.

I’ve wasted a lot of money on gurus, books and courses. I was panning for gold, looking for someone to tell me the secret password to entering Hollywood.

Here’s the things I wish I’d done instead.

  1. I could have made a film instead.

You can make an amazing 7-minute film with $1500.

PARTNERS from Joey Ally on Vimeo.

  1. Recognize that the best work for me was descriptive, not prescriptive.

They didn’t tell me ‘do this or die!’. They gave me a zillion examples of films I love doing this thing that causes this quality I love. It was more analytical than prescriptive.

And the best works came up with theories about why these works were so great. From these theories sprang a set of tools that would get me closer to creating a piece of transcendent art. That’s all most advice is – a set of tools that may or may not work.

  1. I could have made a film instead.
I could have made a killer 4-minute film for $700.
  1. Each screenwriting guru has a set of tools that might be useful for one set of issues but not others.
The Coffee Break Screenwriter became vital after I became a mom. Tim Ferguson’s The Cheeky Monkey has been my go-to comedy resource lately. I’m trying to figure out what I find funny, why I find it funny and how I can replicate that quality in every thing I do.
    1. I could have made a film instead.
I could have made a knock-your-socks-off 2-minute short for $400.

This is a whole series of-2-minute shorts.)

  1. Listen to interviews instead of buying their courses

Interviews take a lot of prep to do. And the best interviews are the meatiest interviews.

But also interviews are a great way to figure out if you’re on the same wavelength as someone. Because some people’s tools will work for you and some will not.

  1. I could have made a film instead.
I could have $0 dollars on a 1-minute short and still been better off than I was, looking for geese that lay golden eggs.
    1. Read their books instead of buying their course.

Books are denser in knowledge and cheaper. And I like reading. You can borrow a book from a friend or your local library. If you like it, you can buy it#bringbackreading.

What I’m saying is: I should have been more like my mother. I should have been stingier.  My mother would have tried every which way to get stuff for free till she couldn’t anymore. Then she would have paid the smallest amount of money she could.  Because I should be using that money to make films.

Create. Don’t just gestate.

(I’m not saying the above films cost that much money. I’m saying that it’s very very VERY possible to make a film of that quality with that much money with the right script.)
What’s your take on gurus? Are they full of BS, just another way to screw hopefuls out of money? Or are they a necessary and fruitful part of the industry?


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