Antoine Allen, Filmmaker/Festival Founder: How are you doing guys? This is Antoine Allen.
Lester Greene, Filmmaker/Actor/Author: And I’m Lester Greene.
Antoine: This is UNSCRIPTED.
Antoine: On Film Courage.
BUILDING YOUR BRAND
Antoine: What’s that word that most filmmakers and artist hate? What’s that word, it starts with an F? What is it?
Antoine: It’s funding. It’s a word that a lot of filmmakers, a lot of artists they don’t like that word. We don’t have it. But we’re going to talk about how to get that funding. I see a lot of videos talking about funding, how to raise money. To me it’s a lot of noise, it’s not real. It doesn’t feel real. I don’t feel like it’s authentic. Do you have a story to tell us?
Lester: Oh…I have a couple stories.
Antoine: Let’s hear the money story.
Lester: Okay, so I created a film (I’m not going to mention the name of it) and I produced it (of course) and I had someone else who was going to help me produce the project. What ended up happening is that person (for whatever reason) couldn’t deliver.
Antoine: It’s like going on a date and you’re supposed to share the bill, when you get that big bill, you’re the only one picking up the tab.
Lester: So I had to pick up the tab and cover everything and of course the film got completed and we submitted to festivals and know we’re winning a lot of awards and getting into a lot of festivals. And it feels like a lot of people are coming back…
Antoine: …On the bandwagon.
Lester: On the bandwagon. Exactly.
Antoine: And this is all about building the brand. So when you first start, let’s be honest, no one cares. No one cares about your idea. When I first started in this industry I had so many great ideas, but no one cared.
So I said How do I make people care? I don’t have any money to get the big name, I had money but I didn’t have a lot of money. So I decided You know what? Let me stop waiting for someone to tell me, to validate me. I’m going to validate myself.
I have kids, I worked my 9-to-5, saved up money, and I decided to invest in myself. I took a little time. You have to invest in yourself to get people to invest in you.
INVEST IN YOURSELF
Once I invested in myself, guess what happened? People want to come on my bus now. They want to hop on the bandwagon…chew…chew!
Antoine: You know, there is nothing wrong with that. But you have to realize that at the end of the day, it’s your vision. You can’t get mad if someone doesn’t see your vision.
Lester: That’s true.
Antoine: That’s why you have to build your brand. And the more you build your brand, the more you do for yourself, the more people want to invest in you.
Let’s be honest, the times we’re living in now, not everybody has a lot of money to spend. But they feel like You know what? This kid is doing a lot. This filmmaker is doing a lot. This female is doing a lot. It’s a safe investment. They feel like they’re going to get their money back.
So let’s talk about building your brand if you’re an actor.
Antoine: Lester Greene is an actor. So tell us Lester, how did you get to be an author now, an award-winning actor, and award-winning producer? How did this happen? I know how it happened, but let them know how it happened.
Lester: Antoine Allen was the main spark plug behind getting me off my feet, so I give him all the credit for that. But I will say this, I think with me (and this helps) if you have a really good day job, it doesn’t have to be a day job, it can be a good job.
Lester: Right if you have a good job that’s consistent and you make a decent salary then you can actually put up some of your own money to create your projects. That’s what I was doing. I put up most of the money out of my own pocket.
Antoine: Yes. So basically as a filmmaker (as a director/producer/writer), Lester is an amazing talent, an amazing actor. But talent isn’t enough any more. You need more than talent. I was putting Lester in my films, but let’s have a partnership. Wow? Partnership…not just the word but the action. You put up money, I’ll put up money. You put up money, I’ll put up money.
Antoine: And now we’ve got films on TV, we’ve got some network meetings, we’re on Film Courage now, we’ve got out own web series. And it’s really, it’s like a bank account, if I put a $100 in, you put $100 in. But if all I’m putting so much money in and all you’re doing is withdrawing, it’s not a partnership.
Lester: Definitely not.
Antoine: So first step in building your brand is find the right people to build you brand with.
FIND THE RIGHT PARTNER
Antoine: Me and Lester, we threw our money together and do the projects. Find the right partner. First thing. Another thing…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
About Lester and Antoine:
Lester Greene majored in English/Journalism at Queens College, and he studied acting with the likes of Alec Baldwin (Southampton Theatre Conference), Peter Miner (Terry Schreiber Studios), Matt Newton, & Mary Boyer.
Lester starred in and produced two short films that aired on CBS (with director Antoine Allen & producer Emelyn Stuart). He also produced another short film, “I Got a Callback” with director Christopher Fox.
Lester landed several co-starring roles on Gotham, Power, Jon Glaser Loves Gear, 50 Central, I Am Homicide and Rachael Ray. He has also appeared in various commercials for Chase, Rogaine, AAO, FYI, Amazon, MTB Bank, Peeps Delights, Buzzfeed, Boost Mobile, Nike, Crown Royal, Brooks, AutoLenders and many more.
Lester has four music albums on I-tunes: “The Greenehouse Effect,” “Cocktails,” “No Bush, Straight Dicks” and “The Greene Room.”
Lester is in the process of shooting two films: “Control” by Gregg Dacosta and “The Last Fishing Trip” by Christopher Fox – and he’s getting ready to produce his very own feature film with Antoine Allen tentatively titled, “Emotional Killer.”
His new book, “Act Like You Love Yourself” is available on Amazon.
Award-winning filmmaker Antoine Allen had dreams like any other kid growing up, and it was those same dreams that allowed him to break through every obstacle in his path. Despite growing up poor in Jamaica, Queens, Allen was already rich with potential. Refusing to let this define his future, he moved forward with a passion, drive, and tireless dedication that has now become synonymous with the Antoine Allen brand.
Allen began his career in the music industry, successfully managing hip-hop artists for many years. During that time, he had several experiences that opened his eyes to the fact that he had more to offer. It was at this time that the phrase “dream big or don’t dream at all” really hit hard.
Forgoing the traditional film school route, he began educating himself on all creative, technical, and business aspects of the process and never looked back. Allen transformed himself into a successful writer, director, filmmaker and producer. He sold his first screenplay,
No Where Land an animated feature film in 2008. As an award-winning director, Allen has gone on to be involved in a variety of film and music video projects.
In the summer of 2010, Allen made his directorial debut with Split Decision a narrative short film exploring love, rejection and motivation, which he also wrote and produced. He took promotions into his own hands, launching a highly successful social media campaign. The trailer alone received over twenty-one thousand views on YouTube and countless ‘Likes’ on Facebook, all culminating in the Split Decision world premiere. The opening screening in New York City sold out. This should have come as no surprise since Allen sold out a premiere to a 3-minute music video that he had previously directed. On a personal level, the film allowed him to draw from his own experiences of beating the odds when life got tough, and was an experience that brought Allen full circle.
His most recent project, a full-length feature film Life Is Too Short (2015) premiered to another crop of sold out audiences and has been honored with multiple awards and film festivals selections.
Aside from pursuing his creative projects, Allen has devoted a great deal of his time inspiring, mentoring and giving back to his community by helping young entrepreneurs and artists achieve the bigger dreams that they have for themselves. This is a reflection of the extent and impact that one person can have within their surroundings.
CONNECT WITH ANTOINE ALLEN
CONNECT WITH LESTER GREENE
LINKS TO HELP FILMMAKERS GET THEIR SHORT FILMS ON TV OR CABLE
1 – Shorts.tv
2 – Badamitv.com
SUBMIT YOUR FILM TO ANTOINE ALLEN’S FILM FESTIVAL
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