Produce Your Project, Or Die Trying

Producer Sarah Hawkins discusses mentality in indie film.

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Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to have Sarah Hawkins of OR DIE TRYING write about their process and how they crushed their crowdfunding and production goals right here on the Stareable blog. This week, she talks mentality, and next week, she’ll be back to chat about the practical logistics of it all.

Although it can feel overwhelming, lack of funding shouldn’t be the thing that stops you from putting your vision into action. Set the intention now that your project will be made and start chipping away at bringing that vision to life with your community. Here’s how:

Stop Asking For Permission

Ask yourself “what resources can we pull together now?”

For our series, OR DIE TRYING, we produced a concept trailer first. There will be a ton of people who will tell you that this is exactly what you should not do, but here’s why we did it, and why it worked for us.

  1. We knew we had a big vision for the series as a whole, but to produce the entire season pulling strictly from our personal funds, we wouldn’t be giving the series what we felt it deserved.

  2. Creating the trailer first helped gauge interest and started building a brand and our community. By the time we launched our crowdfunding campaign to shoot the series, we had an audience already well-engaged and ready to support us.

Don’t Make It About Yourself

Be confident in what you’re building and invite others to be a part of it.

By creating a bigger conversation, a bigger platform, a bigger cause to champion for, you’ve created the beginnings of a tight-knit community. This change in mentality will instantly guide you when you approach cast, crew, brands, sponsors, distribution, and potential contributors.

For OR DIE TRYING we focused our conversation on the women in film community because the show is about ambitious, millennial women in Hollywood.

As women working in the film industry ourselves, we were desperate to change the conversation on this topic as, more often than not, it focuses on depressing statistics and systemic misogyny. We knew our show wasn’t going to fix a patriarchal society like Hollywood; however, by committing to hire a team of at least 85% women, our audience was not only contributing to a female-driven narrative on screen, they were contributing to giving women in the industry a practical leg-up off screen.

This simple switch in mentality and approach from “help us! Give us your money so we can make our project” to “we are going be doing this no matter what, but just look at what we’re capable of accomplishing together” instantly created a movement. It also took some of the personal pressure off, because it was no longer just about us raising money. We were creating progress for the narrative of women in film.

Prove Your Worth With What You’ve Got

Lack of time and money are always obstacles, but I think what is unique about OR DIE TRYING in this capacity is that we shot close to 70 pages within five and a half days, producing the entire series with a budget a little over 13k. It’s definitely not something I’d recommend, but looking back I think it was a pretty excellent feat that we were able to get it all in.

Are there things we would go back and do over again if we had more money and more time? Of course. However, if we had all the funding right out the gate, ODT wouldn’t be what it is today: a solid community, championing together for a cause.

Our series became an opportunity for change, and by extension, a much more collaborative project than we could have ever imagined. And that, to us, is priceless.

OR DIE TRYING premieres June 9th on YouTube.

Next week, come back for part 2, where Sarah gives practical advice on how to bring your vision to life!


Written by Myah Hollis and directed by Camila Martins, OR DIE TRYINGtakes a slice of life approach to the unique highs and lows, failures and successes, of being young millennial women working in the film industry in Los Angeles.

For more information on OR DIE TRYING, it’s release date, and upcoming screening events, please visit:




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