Is there anything more heart-warming than a story of someone who chased an impossible dream and managed to catch it? This TED talk by filmmaker Martin Villeneuve is one of those stories.
Martin wanted to make a futuristic scifi film set in Montréal, but he didn’t have the funding to get it done. This is why he calls it an ‘impossible film’ to make. His talk explains the ways he worked around the constraints of having a tiny budget without compromising his vision or the quality of his film.
To begin with, Martin points out something that many ambitious entrepreneurs have in common: he says, “I didn’t know it was impossible.”
If your vision is seemingly impossible, a dose of entrepreneurial naïvety can be a good thing.
Martin goes on to explain how he worked around the constraints of his tiny budget and his relative obscurity in the film industry—not exactly helpful when you’re trying to convince people to give up jobs with Spielberg to work with you instead.
One example I loved is how Martin managed to get the specially-made expensive props that he needed but couldn’t afford.
With a little inventive thinking, Martin realized the best way to get something you can’t afford is to get someone else to pay for it. So he approached Cirque du Soleil and pitched them his plans for custom, futuristic musical instruments. It didn’t take much before Cirque du Soleil were sold. They jumped on board Martin’s impossible film train and bankrolled the prop building.
How’s that for hustle?
This is a great example of both creative problem solving and not being afraid to ask for what you want.
Martin also wasn’t afraid of going right to the top to ask for help. He wanted to cast one of the top actor/directors in the world, and he did. He wanted to hire his childhood hero—a talented comic book artist—as the film’s production designer, and he did. He even talked his VFX artist out of working with Spielberg to do his film instead.
Martin went straight to these top-tier people and asked them to work on his film.
And that was all it took. He appealed to their imaginations and they all said yes.
Sometimes, all you have to do is ask.
What did Martin do that we can emulate? Three major things helped him to succeed in producing an ‘impossible film.’
- He didn’t know it was impossible—or at least, he didn’t believe it was.
- He didn’t let hurdles stop him. Using creative problem-solving, Martin worked around the issues that were holding him back from achieving his vision.
- He wasn’t afraid to ask for what he wanted. He went straight to the people he wanted to work with and asked them to help.
Martin ends with an inspiring call-to-action for those of us who are crazy enough to have big, impossible visions:
So, I want to tell you that, if you have some crazy ideas in your mind, and that people tell you that it’s impossible to make, well, that’s an even better reason to want to do it, because people have a tendency to see the problems rather than the final result, whereas if you start to deal with problems as being your allies rather than your opponents, life will start to dance with you in the most amazing way.