We had the good fortune of connecting with Steven Hellmann and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Steven, what role has risk played in your life or career?
I developed a personal criteria for taking risks and to me it boils down to two factors. The first being is how important is the thing I’m pursuing by taking the risk and the second being what is the probability of this risk paying off. Making a feature film was the most important personal goal of mine so I was going to do whatever I had to do to make “Taking The Fall” a reality. I have never poured more into a goal than making this film from a mental, physical and especially a financial standpoint. I had a sneaking suspicious that I was going to make a quality film because I wanted it so badly, I put in the work and I exhausted all my resources to make it happen. I don’t want to be anything else other than a filmmaker so taking my one big financial risk on making a movie had to be the basket I was going to put all my eggs in. And to be clear I don’t care about having a lot of money. I want my films to make money so I can make more films. If I wanted to be rich or cared about being rich I would not be making independent films lol. I know that filmmaking is what makes me happy and it’s what I want to do. I think the problem with how people view risk is that they look at it solely at face value as a monetary thing and that’s why risks don’t work out for people cause it’s not something they are passionate about it. The reasons these massive risks work for people is cause they pour their whole being into something not just their wallet. You have to stick with what you want to do cause not every day is gonna be fun and dandy a lot of days are actually gonna suck. The role that risk has taken in my life? Everything. The learnings that I have gotten from various jobs have been CRUCIAL in my development as a filmmaker; however, no job I ever had was actually just gonna say “Steven here’s a bunch of money go make a movie for us we believe in you.” So I had to apply my learnings from various jobs to then take the risk. I can without a doubt guarantee that I would still not have a movie made if I did not spend over the 100 grand (Of money I certainly do not have to make Taking The Fall). I needed to take this risk to prove to others and more importantly myself that “Hey I can do this.” I said I was going to write, produce, fund, market and distribute my own feature film and I’ve ben told that you cannot do that all by yourself and on April 9th I’m going to show people that you actually can. I put in all the work to do this. The 5 years (prior to making the movie) now 8 years of writing scripts every day, the 5 years of learning marketing, the 4 years of working in indie film distribution. What I eluded to earlier in the probability of me pulling this off is that I put in all this work that no one on the surface was actually seeing. So when it came time to pony up the cash to actually make the movie I was as ready as I could have ever been for it. Because I took this risk I proved to myself and I think others that I can do anything I put my mind too. I really had to pull a Tommy Wiseau and say “Screw it. I’ll make my own movie..” after years of rejections so I did and I’m bias but but I’ll never be more proud of something I’ve accomplished that making Taking The Fall cause of the means it took. Anything I accomplish after this will pale in comparison to making this movie cause it was truly truly the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Please tell us more about your work. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
What I am most proud of is how “resilient” I have become. I don’t really get phased by many things. I’ve been trying to be a successful filmmaker for 8 years and I have yet to see a dollar from my craft and dedication. I’m really proud of how I harnessed all my fears, stressors, anxiety and used it as fuel to spur my creativity and drive. I feel like I’m willing to go the lengths and bounds to accomplish things that others won’t. I’m doing something with this whole process of creating this film and putting it into people’s home by spearheading the entire rollout and creation of a film that I made and financed. It takes an entire film studio, investors, development executives, marketers, etc. I am all of those things by myself and can work and operate with such limited resources cause I taught myself all these things and practiced screenwriting every day for the past 8 years.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Playa Del Rey – If you want a beach that isn’t too crowded with a ton of cool little dive bars (The Shack) bomb food and drinks. Echo Park & DTLA – The nightlife and culture on the east side really reminds me of Philly and home so it’s always a good time and I get that nostalgia feeling when I go over to that side of town. Griffith Observatory – It is such a touristy thing to do but hiking all the way to the top and viewing the entire city never gets old. Anyone that visits LA if there is one thing you gotta do it’s that. Mar Vista – My neighborhood. I guess I’m bias but I feel like I’m close to everything and not in like the crazy hustle bustle of the city. I go on runs through all the neighborhoods and it’s kinda a quick way for me to unplug from the craziness of Los Angeles.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My Dad and Mom for supporting me. I definitely stressed them out with my cavalier attitude towards making this film haha. But they raised me well to never quit or never give up and that was certainly put to the test. My family can be a very stubborn and competitive bunch at times.