How I Made a Movie That Impacted A Million People.
By Anubhav Srivastava ( Register for his Workshop – Build Super Confidence For Super Success!)
On April 18, 2016, Carve Your Destiny, the project I worked on so long for, the inspirational movie featuring several famous achievers, hit One Million Views on Youtube.
If you do not know about Carve Your Destiny the movie, it is an inspirational movie/documentary that I, Anubhav Srivastava made over a course of 6 years. It is one of the most comprehensive documentaries on the subject of success and features some of the most famous achievers from diverse fields across the world.
A million views on Youtube is something that most content creators aspire for and yes, while some videos on the site have hit a billion views, getting to the One Million Views mark is still something special. In fact according to the article here only 0.33 percent of the videos uploaded to Youtube will ever hit one million views. That is 1 in 300. Most videos never even hit 1000 views.
Getting a million views is a validation that your work has genuinely influenced a huge number of people worldwide. It doesn’t necessarily have to be in a good way. Some terrible videos have gotten over 50 million views, nevertheless they are still influencing people! Thankfully my film has gotten almost unanimous praise from the people who watched the film all the way, so I don’t have to worry about getting famous for the wrong reasons 🙂
Let me share with you my journey, which I hope will inspire you to never give up on your dream as well.
In Late 2007, when I was still a university student, I proposed Carve Your Destiny as a project for a competition called SIFE. It would be a first of its kind movie on success featuring several real life famous achievers and not only self help gurus. The Project was rejected by my professor because they thought it was way too hard to get it made, even with the resources of the university.
Being crazy/filled with self belief, I decided I would make this on my own. People laughed at me in front of me and also ridiculed me behind my back because they thought I was being an idiot and i would fail. I didn’t have any contacts or the money to get this made.
The Struggle To Get Interviews
People were sort of right. I was turned down by most celebrities. Most said no because I did not belong to any big media house, so according to them it was a waste of time. Some of the assistants of these celebrities laughed at me. Many appointments were cancelled after months of speculation. Some were cancelled on the day of the interview when I reached the spot. In one instance I actually traveled all the way to England even though my father was sick to interview a British Author. He cancelled the interview once I landed. This story is in the film.
I faced over 300 rejections over a course of four years but I did manage to get around 20 famous people to agree for an interview. The process was excruciatingly slow because I had no contacts, and was also completing my education at the time. Because the project was taking so long, people started laughing behind my back again because in their eyes if the project had not been completed in 4 years, it means I had given up. But of course, I had not.
The Struggle To Make an Impactful Film
After 4 years. I decided I had enough interviews. But interviews are not enough for a film, you need to tell a great story to impact people. But I had no filmmaking background. So I studied story telling and decided to write a script that would dramatize certain elements and integrate the interviews. Spent six months on that. Realized what I had come up with would look like nonsense on the screen. Junked it. Six months wasted. Another failure.
I decided to construct a story out of the footage I already had instead of shooting a drama. Learned video editing on my own and spent the next one year trying to nail the right story with my footage. After one year I had a rough version of the film which I thought was a masterpiece. I invited a small group of people to my house to critically review the film and see if they enjoyed it. This process is called a test screening. Not a single person clapped. Most were quite bored and one looked terribly sleepy. It shattered me. Did I waste 5 years of my life for this?
I truly felt like giving up, after all everything seemed like a waste. What was the point of it all if nobody appreciated it. But then I realized if I succeeded in making a great film, I could set a great example for people who felt extremely disappointed and down in their own lives. So I rose back again. I got the feedback I needed, made the necessary improvements, integrated more stories from history and invited people again. This time the feedback was better but not great, so I repeated this process again and again. After one year of these repeated improvements, when I presented the final version, many people in the group stood up and clapped. I knew I had finally nailed it. After six years of work I had come up with something I was proud of.
The Struggle To Promote The Film
So the film was made and was absolutely loved by most of the people who liked inspirational movies. Struggle over right? NOPE. How do you actually get it out to people so that most people watch it. I had three realistic options.
I could spend another year or two trying to get the right distributor (which I think doesn’t exist for the Indian Documentary Market) and then sell it to them.
I could submit to Film Festivals with the hope of getting awards and spend more years on the festival circuit, getting my film reviewed by people who weren’t even my target audience. Besides I did not make my film for awards, I made it for people who needed it.
So the third option was that I could release it for FREE on Youtube.
So after making the film a paid product for a few months and recovering some of the costs, I decided it was time for the movie to be released for FREE so that it could reach and impact the huge numbers of people I had hoped it would. What better platform than Youtube? Simple right? You release it and it becomes viral overnight like those media stories tell you, right? WRONG Again
Millions of Videos are added on Youtube everyday. To stand out, you need to be brilliant or you need to be so bad that you become worth talking about. Even though going viral is the holy grail for content creators, very rarely will a content go truly viral.
To go Viral, in other words accumulate a million views or more in a very short period of time, you need to have the right content and then
- Spend loads and loads and loads of money promoting it. This is an option only for big production companies or people with big money. An independent content creator in most instances cannot afford to do so unless they are willing to take a big financial risk.
- Get your powerful friend or influencers with with loads of followers to share your video with their fans. It did not happen. Most expect money. The most shocking part was that even people who were a part of the film did almost nothing to help with promoting it.
- Get super super super lucky so that your video goes viral without any overt efforts. This is incredibly rare. Didn’t happen.
What Happened After Release
With absolutely no help from influencers, very little paid promotion and mostly my own social media efforts, I put out the film on Youtube. And no it did not go viral overnight. But something beautiful did happen. I saw people leaving comments on it about how inspired they were by watching it. A filmmaker from Brazil dubbed this film into Spanish and Portuguese for Latin American and South American audiences.
I started receiving emails from people everyday from people telling me how much they loved it. People who were going to give up on their entrepreneurial dreams wrote to me that they were going to keep pushing on because of what they saw in my film. Students who were about to give up on their dreams of getting into their dream university wrote to me and said they would keep trying because of my work. I received emails from people with serious life threatening diseases who said my movie gave them the courage to keep fighting and win back their life. I even received emails from people who had attempted suicide before who told me how watching this film actually motivated them to LIVE.
Every single day thousands of people were watching the film and the view count kept going up and up. My movie did not go viral overnight so no miracle happened there. But I believe you work with sincere effort and consistency, over a period of time the rewards will come and your efforts will start looking like a miracle to others.
The same happened, after an year my movie finally hit a million views on Youtube. In the years to come Carve Your Destiny shall be watched by millions of more people and inspire hundreds of thousands to never give up on their dream and to fight to win back their life. My own dream of impacting a millions of people is coming true! The miracle is happening every day!
My Final Advice To You
If you are struggling with making your dreams come true, remember that if your efforts are genuine, they may not always pay off overnight but sooner or later people will come to appreciate what you did. Having a great team and the support of a lot of people around you who help you to achieve your dream can be helpful and make the process much simpler, but the game isn’t over just because no one decides to help you. Just because you work alone and nobody believes in you does not mean you can’t win. A man named Dashrath Manjhi broke an entire mountain ALONE over a period of twenty two years. All I had to do was make a film!
It doesn’t matter whether others believe in you as long as you believe in yourself. But remember, belief isn’t enough, you also need the strength to break or climb over the innumerable obstacles you will face in your journey. And you need the discipline to keep going on no matter how long it takes if you truly care about your dream. If you have the courage to never give up, even the stroke of luck that evaded you for so long will be forced to give up and turn in your favor. The question is do you have the courage to keep moving forward, when everybody else quits?
About the Author
Anubhav Srivastava is an author, speaker and the director of Carve Your Destiny, a first of its kind inspirational documentary featuring some of the most famous personalities from diverse fields. Anubhav has also been featured in numerous International and India Media outlets such as BBC , The Times of India, Hindustan Times, Rediff.com, Leicester Mercury and many others.
For one on one consulting or a motivational workshop at your organization please email firstname.lastname@example.org . If you would like to write a guest blog post on Anubhavsrivastava.com you contact me on the same email address. Facebook: http://facebook.com/anubhav981
Watch Carve Your Destiny, the super inspirational movie by Anubhav Srivastava for Free at