Brandi Mitchell is an image consultant, producer, director and a three-time author. She’s talking to us about her career, filmmaking and the keys to success.
Lioness: You were a celebrity hair and makeup artist before becoming a producer and director. Tell us about that shift.
Mitchell: As a celebrity hair and makeup artist, I was always the person closest to the talent. I was the last person they saw before they went out. I was very attuned to the way they delivered their lines. I watched the monitor and was aware of the directors, of the lighting. At a certain point in my life I felt a shift and change. I began booking more dates just so I could be on set and learn about the production. Really it was very natural.
I set a goal for myself that in five years I would have made a film. At that time I had been doing camera work. I was a natural at capturing moments with a camera, so I did that for five years and that was my first film.
Lioness: “Point and Drive” is a documentary about the lessons you learned while playing with the Florida A&M University Marching 100.
Mitchell: Yes, we just did something that no other independant filmmaker was able to do and that was to go on our own eight-city promotional tour and actually make money from it. We made five figures on the tour, and we reinvested that. In the independent film world, you can make several films and make no money, movies that aren’t seen by anyone. “Point and Drive” actually made money. If I didn’t have a deep business sense and a good understanding on the entrepreneurial side, I knew there was no way I was going to get by as a filmmaker.
Lioness: What are some keys to success that you learned from band?
Mitchell: When you are in band, they set the bar high. We were meticulous and set a high standard. You also played collaboratively, in a team. That foundation stays with you for life. There are two choices in band, work hard or work harder, and that is so applicable to life as an entrepreneur. Because that’s it! As an entrepreneur, you start talking about the amount of hard work it is, it’s not for the squeamish.
Another saying we had was, ‘Only perfect practice makes perfect.’ Whether it’s speaking or coaching, you need to excel at it. Practice it as perfectly as possible. You can be practicing something wrong. You have to be regimented and practicing your skills as perfectly as possible.
Lioness: How do you decide what ideas to pursue?
Mitchell: I am strategic about my ideas. I always think about how many revenue streams can be created. How much of a life will this have? What kind of brand could come from this? I’m always thinking about revenue generation, longevity, positioning, and how it might serve humanity. I ask myself if it has the potential to add to my legacy.
Lioness: Do you have a daily practice or a process that helps you generate ideas?
Mitchell: I like to be centered in the morning. I wake up an hour before my son does so that I have that time. It’s important that before the world starts to put demands on you, that you have space so that you can hear and create. So you can create your day rather than respond to your day. That has been the biggest game changer for me, in the last year. Taking that time to be present in the morning, being able to stop and listen and then create the day.
Lioness: Any advice for our lovely Lioness readers?
Mitchell: As an entrepreneur, one thing I had to embrace was transparency. A lot of times people think we should only present the “after” image of ourselves and your tribe will not recognize that, they are going to recognize the authentic person. That means that we need to show up when we work with clients. Lead with your story, your story is the only thing that is going to differentiate your from the thousands of other people out there who all want the same thing. Your story is what will make you memorable and also draw to you the kinds of people you want to work with.