This post was written by Daniel Lawrence Wilson.

When I set out to make my 40-minute film, A Brush of Violence, back in January 2021, I had a big vision in my head, as most of us do. I knew it was going to be an ambitious story going into it, but I had no idea just how much energy it was going to take.

In the end, this film was a success in my intentions, but it should be known—sometimes I wanted to quit. The decision fatigue of pre-production, setting up the scenes I wanted to create, and cultivating the right team sometimes felt impossible. Even more, as I began to work out the details, this one truth became crystal clearnobody cares about your film.

After pouring your emotions into a script, this is the harsh reality of getting it made.

Daniel_lawrence_wilson_a_brush_of_violence_8'A Brush of Violence' behind the scenesCredit: Daniel Lawrence Wilson

When making A Brush of Violence, I received a lot of nos, or no responses at all. There was plenty of rejection and even more skepticism.

But during the process, I was also blown away by the number of people who said “yes.” And I believe this is because of a few key things I did during pre-production that drew people in—simple things anyone can do.

At the end of our 14 days of production, I created a community of people that had helped bring this ambitious story to life involving 16 locations, 25 cast/crew members, and a total of 50 extras.

Here are some highlights of how I did it and what I learned along the way.  

Share your story

Your responsibility as a filmmaker is to ensure everyone who is a part of the project is fully on board, excited, and clear about your direction.

The most crucial tool that helped me accomplish this in pre-production was a 62-page film deck that displayed the entire project. It was visually heavy and included my purpose, goals, logline, synopsis, the script with images, inspiration, character backstories, casting, crew, and locations. A film is a product. This is your prototype to instill a sense of trust and professionalism and eliminate any uncertainty about the project. 

Regardless of where you are with status, money, or reputation, it will always take influence to get individuals on board with a project. When it came to building a team of dozens of individuals, one specific tool was pivotal in helping me out.

Creating this deck wasn’t easy, and it took a lot of time, but it was essential to get to a “yes” or “no” very quickly. 

Daniel_lawrence_wilson_a_brush_of_violence_2'A Brush of Violence' behind the scenesCredit: Daniel Lawrence Wilson

Talk to the community

Though many people are trending away from Facebook, it is still a noteworthy platform where communities—as a whole—gather online. This makes it an incredible resource when addressing production needs.

Need a cool vintage car? Some extras for a scene? Tips on how to get something done? On this platform, you can tap into a community that is most likely to have what you’re looking for—you can find a local organization that focuses on theater, modeling, or a group of enthusiasts in the area.

Who knows? You might receive a massive amount of responses. I did. 

Daniel_lawrence_wilson_a_brush_of_violence_4'A Brush of Violence'Credit: Daniel Lawrence Wilson

One of the biggest wins I had was when looking for a vintage car. I found some local groups of collectors and simply posted an image of the years, colors, and styles I was looking for. These communities were so passionate about what they owned, they jumped on it. I ended up with nearly a hundred options from which I could choose.

Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable and post directly on your page either. For example, I posted on my page when I was looking for an old white van. A friend of mine, who I had coffee with just a week earlier, responded within an hour that he knew how to get what I needed. People don’t know what you need unless you ask them, and the people in your closest circle may be some of the most willing to help. 

Daniel_lawrence_wilson_a_brush_of_violence_5'A Brush of Violence' behind the scenesCredit: Daniel Lawrence Wilson

Credibility by association

When I was searching for locations, there were times when I noticed some common connections between location contacts and people in my network. So I began mapping relationships between people I needed to get in contact with and people I already knew.

This broke down barriers and turned what would have been weeks of correspondence into approvals within days. 

Daniel_lawrence_wilson_a_brush_of_violence_3'A Brush of Violence'Credit: Daniel Lawrence Wilson

I secured an area of a cemetery because I was Facebook friends with an architect that designed the mausoleum. I had limitations but was able to gain access to an art museum because I had a friend of a friend that worked there. A family friend knew an administrator high up at a university that granted me access to two other crucial locations. There’s a 25ft x 25ft mural that we put up in the middle of the city because the real estate agent we needed approval from had already hired the artist who is my friend, and the list goes on.

I locked in these ambitious locations because I leaned into the credibility of a prior relationship. The co-sign from a client, family member, friend, or even an acquaintance is priceless. Look into creative ways you can get things done within your circle of influence, and constantly ask yourself, “Who do I know that would know them?”

Daniel_lawrence_wilson_a_brush_of_violence_6'A Brush of Violence'Credit: Daniel Lawrence Wilson

What's in it for them

If the story you share has any ambition and an emotional purpose, strangers may want to help, but this becomes a lot easier when you can make it work for them too.

And in this example, it doesn’t always mean money. When I needed to secure two mansions, I was able, through research, to locate a 501c3 non-profit whose mission aligned closely with our project. I did market research on the average rate of a property rental, and we were able to submit the estates’ donations of their home as a donation receipt.

This was a win-win. The homeowners received something meaningful to them, and we secured two locations essential to our film. Not only was this an advantage of partnering with a non-profit, but it also helped us bypass state taxes and other expenses such as lodging, locations, and gear rental.

Daniel_lawrence_wilson_a_brush_of_violence_7'A Brush of Violence' behind the scenesCredit: Daniel Lawrence Wilson


Ultimately, it comes down to this—the first step in making a film is accepting that no one cares… yet. Once you realize that, you’ll be bulletproof. Your job—at first—isn’t to make everyone care. It’s to create the right community of people around the film who do care.

You do this by relying on your network, being vulnerable with asking, tapping into communities, getting creative with getting things done, and taking the risk to share your story. People will help you—you just have to find them. This can be the difference between a passion project film that’s a dream and one that’s a reality.

Now go out and share your story. 

Daniel Lawrence Wilson is a filmmaker based in Los Angeles, California, whose obsession with authentic narrative has led him to partner with brands, agencies, and production companies worldwide. He has spent the last 12 years working as a successful writer, producer, director, and editor, focusing on creating branded content that integrates lifestyle and stories. He just finished post-production for his short film debut, A Brush of Violence. It’s projected to be released in 2023.