June 16, 2021
Read 7 minutes
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur Contributors are their own.
Entrepreneurs have certain aspects that are at the core of their DNA. And it doesn’t matter what industry you’re in. Regardless of their discipline and background, there are certain things that all entrepreneurs identify with.
Dallas Jenkins is one of those entrepreneurs, but his background is a little different from most of the others. Jenkins is the son of the man who wrote this Left behind Book series, and he is a devout filmmaker himself. Jenkins broke the then-all-time crowdfunding record for his TV series The chosen ones, based on the life of Jesus Christ. The start of the series raised more than $ 10 million in crowdfunding from over 16,000 individual investors, thereby triggering their seat Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s revival as the # 1 crowdfunded film or TV project in history.
I recently interviewed Dallas for a podcast. The podcast isn’t exactly faith-based, but what impressed me speaking with Jenkins is how many of the lessons he’s learned in his career also apply to entrepreneurship.
1. Look for underserved audiences
Jenkins talked about how behind Christian media was compared to Hollywood and the mainstream, and how, when he grew up a little sheltered and went to the movies late, he saw the difference in quality. “I don’t think people knew they wanted to, at least in my world,” he said. âWhen certain films come out like God is not dead, They’ll make $ 60, 70 million at the box office. But if you think about it, that’s maybe six, seven, eight million people, which is not a huge number in relative terms. And so there is a large chunk of the faith-based crowd that isn’t even watching God is not deadbecause they are not in that segment of activism. They watch normal films like everyone else. “
He didn’t watch mainstream films until he was a teenager, but his father was a movie buff and Jenkins was exposed to many groundbreaking films as he got older. He had a unique perspective and realized that audiences like him, who grew up faithful Christians but cared about movie quality, weren’t getting the supply they needed to meet demand.
Connected: Address the right target group in 5 simple steps
2. Find a niche that only you can fill
When he was 25, Jenkins was picked up from a major studio for his first film, and it became a lifelong love affair. He dedicated himself to making faith films, for which he was uniquely suited due to his strong Christian background and the training in film and storytelling received from his father. I asked him what the difference was between him and the other 90% of indie filmmakers who never get picked up.
“You have to find some kind of niche,” he said. “You need an easily definable audience with which the film should connect.”
The big studios realized that there was a demand that they couldn’t supply, and that opened doors. Larger companies showed interest and were able to get funding for better films.
3. Get input from people who are better than you
“Now when you look back on those films I’m still proud of them and they were decent films,” Jenkins shared in our interview. âBut I wasn’t a good filmmaker at the time. I really wasn’t. After my second film, I realized – I sent it to my mentor. I think that goes for everyone in any business, that the key is really to surround yourself with people who are much better than you. “
Over the course of our conversation, Jenkins attributed his improvement to his mentor. His mentor sent important films, source books, guides, and more that would round off his education in cinematography. He spent a year devouring them.
It’s something that keeps popping up throughout history: great people are constantly trying to surround themselves with people who are better than them or people who can help them fill their blind spots. It’s one of the keys to the mid-career renaissance of Steve Jobs. It helped soldiers and statesmen like Ulysses S. Grant and Winston Churchill. And it’s a key to any good entrepreneur. Nobody is an island.
Connected: 6 tips for personal networking during the COVID-19 era
4. Do all you can … then let go of it
Blockbuster Video was the first job Jenkins took, and his dad gave him some advice he never forgot: âMy dad said to me, if you just do your job, you’ll actually get ahead of most of the people you are his âwork with. The majority of people don’t even do their job. If you do your job, you will be one step ahead. If you do more than your job, if you look for ways to be successful, if you do more, you will sail through … I find it defeatist to say that you were either born with it or not. â
I’ve suggested that you either have that guts or you don’t, but Jenkins disagreed. He felt like things changed for him at some point in his career when he was faced with a certain failure.
Things were going well and his career took off. He had the chance to make films with a big company called Blumhouse, which specialized in low-budget horror films that tended to be way above their budget.
Blumhouse saw the possibility of doing the same in the Faith Film. In the meantime, Jenkins was working on a movie called The resurrection of Gavin Stone that tested very well with the audience, with interest through the roof. But when it came to theater, it was a flop.
“That night at four in the morning, I was up doing what you probably did … someone sent me a Facebook message that said, ‘Just to deliver the sandwiches and fish,'” says Jenkins. “There are a lot of stereotypes about ‘just focus on what you can do and leave the rest to the gods or nature or whatever it is.”
His mindset changed. Although his greatest chance had failed, Jenkins never stopped working. But he was ready to let go of failure and work in different directions. He produced a small film for a local church that went viral on Facebook and paved the way for the crowdfunding project that was launched The chosen ones.
You broke previous crowdfunding records to make the series.
Every creative professional and every entrepreneur has obstacles to overcome. The difference between success and failure is how you approach them. While Dallas Jenkins is primarily a filmmaker, his experience provides valuable insights for entrepreneurs who may face similar challenges.