Talent is learned.
Jeff Orgill is the founder of Film Budgeteers, an online film budgeting service launched in 2015 which provides filmmakers with a professional, customized, line item budget for their project within minutes.
After college, Jeff worked in post-production and editing for Roger Corman. Here he met and collaborated with kindred spirits who helped him realize his dream of making narrative short and feature length movies. At the same time, Orgill indulged his passion for music by gigging, recording, and releasing music in indie bands.
Prior to Corman, after graduating from San Francisco State University, Jeff edited feature films and produced music videos in the Bay Area. In SF Jeff met his mentor, film producer Henry S. Rosenthal, and learned low budget filmmaking from screenwriting through post-production. This is also where Jeff got hooked on film festivals, first working for the San Francisco Film Festival, and then moving on to direct film promos for the Sundance Film Festival and CineVegas Film Festival.
Jeff has written and directed short films and the award-winning independent feature film, Boppin’ at The Glue Factory, which has played festivals across the US and Europe. His entrepreneurial spirit continues with his business, Film Budgeteers. Jeff lives with his wife, their two daughters, and Bruce Springsteen, their cat, in South Los Angeles.
Where did the idea for Film Budgeteers come from?
Film Budgeteers started from my filmmaking needs. As I saw more aspects of our lives become automated, freeing us up for more creative use of our time, automated film budgeting just made sense. As an independent filmmaker, I’m working a day job as a producer/editor while also developing my own film projects on top of that. I kept finding myself needing a professional, detailed film budget for a project I was developing, but not having the time to do it myself or the money to hire another producer to do it. Film Budgeteers is the solution to that problem.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m up at 6:00 am when the house is quiet. Coffee, email, internet or reading, and a few quick tasks completed. Then the morning madness getting our two daughters ready for school and delivered there on time. This is fun because you get a rush of memories from your own childhood and see the world through the eyes of a two and six-year-old. It’s always refreshing to get zapped out of your own perspective and into a different one. After that, I commute to the office (usually by car, but when summer cools down I will bike n’ METRO at least once a week).
Commuting is often my most productive time of day. When I’m driving I catch up on phone calls – I make all my calls while commuting. I’ve also finished many podcasts while driving, biking, or jogging. Favorites include Serial, S-Town, Hidden Brain, RadioLab, and You Are Not So Smart. And lastly, not leastly, I listen to the Weekly Discovery playlist Spotify kicks out for me each Monday and add faves from that to my personal playlists. Music has been a lifelong pleasure. Spotify and Pandora definitely simplify the habit in this increasingly busy life.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Collaboration. I seek out people I admire who have similar goals and excitement about doing projects. The collective brain power, energy and spitballing becomes a living, breathing scratch pad for getting ideas into the real world. I also journal at least once a day – I have a few notebooks, a personal one, a business one, a kids one and I also update docs in Google Docs. A key part of journaling is that you need to go back through them every once in a while to remind yourself of ideas that may have ripened since you first jotted them down. Most recently I’ve been using a writing app, Bear, which carries my writing across my laptop to my phone and back to my desktop seamlessly. It’s easy to add photos and export it all back out to different formats and destinations.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Artificial Intelligence. The name is misleading, but the core ideas defining human consciousness are being dealt with head on in AI. Exciting to read about. In practical terms, as more becomes automated and assisted, this leads to exponential expansion of all human endeavors – especially creative ones as we delegate complex or repetitive tasks to machines.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Wandering. Free associating. I regularly go to the Santa Monica Library and check out every book in the New Releases section that snags my interest. So I’m immersing myself in a bunch of different subjects at once and dipping in and out of them throughout the following weeks. This gets my wheels turning, but more importantly, it makes me happy.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Make your mistakes and learn from them. Then keep on truckin’!
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?
Talent is learned.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I peruse libraries and bookstores at every opportunity which inspires me and I think this is a good habit for everybody to fall into. It can be akin to browsing the internet, but when you find a book that’s interesting it’s much easier to stay with it and dive deep without the easy distraction online reading fosters.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.
Solicit customer feedback. I added a brief questionnaire for customers to complete after online check out at Film Budgeteers. From this, we learned software mods which we had considered, but the customer feedback confirmed they would be useful. The main feature added was the ability to budget television and web series in addition to one-off feature films perhaps reflecting the trend in the media landscape.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I did not have a plan for marketing my feature film once it was completed. I’d put all my thought and effort into making the film, but since I’d never marketed a film before, I had no idea how. It was a dark art then, but now I’m with a very transparent distributor, Indie Rights, and it’s a great match for me because I can learn directly from the process.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A service which will display additional info about the names in movie credits on your TV. So for instance, as the film you’ve just enjoyed ends and the credits roll on screen, the director credit appears accompanied by other titles, directed by the same person, that you might like. Then you just click “add to queue” to watch these films later. Same would happen with all key credits such as actors, writer, composer, producer, and cinematographer.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
We recently circumnavigated Catalina with our sailboat and moored in Catalina Harbor on the back side of the island for a couple days ($58/night mooring). It was magically serene and beautiful spending this time with my wife and daughters. Nobody was around as we swam off the boat and lazed in the sun. My six-year-old read her first chapter novel in Catalina Harbor. The joy I got watching her devour that book will stay with me.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Google alerts – anything that interests me I just set an alert for it and I’ll get links about it sent to me automatically.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
In Pursuit of the Unknown: 17 Equations That Changed the World reveals the history and the general workings of the math which has shaped our modern world. Reading it I realized much of the world humans have created for themselves is miraculous, it was created by many brilliant minds stacking achievement upon achievement, and that we are capable of adding to these achievements in our own lifetimes.
Also check out Uncharted: Big Data and an Emerging Science of Human History.
What is your favorite quote?
“Always look on the bright side of life” – Monty Python
•A wandering mind, free association is a great way to live, relax and find your next business idea/solution…or hobby.
•Hang out at bookstores and libraries. You’d be surprised how many kindred spirits you’ll find there – on the stacks and between them too.
•Parenting children gives you a different perspective on life because you get to see things from their point of view.
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Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.