FCF BY THE NUMBERS
How we crafted a sustainable business model out of dreams, debt, and a lot of unfocused energy.
This is going to be a long-ass post. It's specific as hell. A lot of people have been emailing, direct messaging, or calling to ask just how we did this. How did two chix make a full-time living out of nothing but debt?
We weren't born with money. We were broke. And if we did it, so can you.
So, here's our story. (Sorry about the length, but you guys asked. lol.)
The two co-founders of FCF, Julia Trinidad (left) and Emilia Aghamirzai (right) in 2014.
The above photograph was taken some months after the first time that I (Julia) had left my full time job to focus on FCF, and Emilia was still working part time as a care provider.
Our first attempt at entrepreneurship failed roughly one year after this picture was taken. There was no money coming in. We had failed to plan and save appropriately for the feast or famine cycle in freelancing, and we were not nearly as disciplined with our time as we are today.
In short, we were young and inexperienced.
We'd had great success with our first project, a short film we wrote to showcase Emilia's talent, aptly named Emilia.
On the set of Emilia, c. 2013.
It did very well on the festival circuit and we met a lot of great artists and agents that wanted to 'help us' get where we needed to go. We didn't realized this meant we'd be doing all of the work, and they'd be taking half of the credit.
Outside Tribeca Cinemas for the Big Apple Film Festival, c. 2014.
Again, we were young and inexperienced. And the festival success of our very first project made us think we were ready to be filmmakers full time. Unfortunately, we had no idea what that meant in terms of work, equipment, fees, etc.
We started making original content, hoping that it would catch on, but the production value of those projects was based on favors as we had no money to invest in the business. We bartered for cam ops and edits. We didn't have a camera of our own yet or computers that really functioned anymore, and we sure as hell had no money to spare, so we did what we had to. Or what we thought was best.
It became apparent pretty quickly that we were running out of money. Fast.
But we still tried, even though we realized we were going to fail.
On location for NYC: TV Dinner, Ep. 2, c. 2014.
We shot some okay, kind of funny stuff for internet streaming. We made a few more friends, friends that we could rely on in the bad times as well as the good. And we had a pretty decent time sorting out our lives together, despite some pretty dark moments. And there were plenty of dark moments.
I won't say it wasn't worth it, the failure. It was worth every second.
We got stronger during that time. We learned from our mistakes. We learned a lot of things about each other, about business, and about weaknesses that we'd need to fix if FCF was ever going to work.
Em and I have a dream. It's pretty simple: we want to make other people's dreams come true.
We want to make people so happy that they can't contain it anymore and burst into tears because someone finally told them yes.
We want that. Because we were told no so many times. We knew that someday we wanted to be able to hand someone a check that would change their lives.
And we knew that to get from where we were - that place of failure and defeat - to where we are now - with a full-time business that pays the bills - was going to require a total overhaul of our work ethic, our lifestyles, our daily tasks, even aspects of our friendship and the way we communicated with one another.
We needed, in short, to work on ourselves before our business could work.
But it was worth it. It's so f*cking worth it. And here's how we did it:
We got our sh*t together way faster the second time around.
I went back to work full time to take some pressure off of FCF.
We came up with a business plan that would be honed and re-drafted many times over the course of three years. I used to review the new drafts during my lunch breaks, sending updates back to Em just before clocking back in at my day job.
We bought our very first camera - a Canon that holds a special place in our hearts - with Em's credit card and decided she would learn how to shoot. (She's always had an epic eye, so that was now her department.)