Actually, there are dozens of mistakes I could label as “biggest” if I put my mind to it. I began drawing up a list and here are the first five that came to me. They’re certainly biggies.
1. Submitting your film to an A-list festival before it’s ready.
Every year at this time, producers scramble to finish their films for the Sundance deadline. I can’t begin to tell you how many consults I do with filmmakers that concludes with me telling them to take their time and urging them to wait.
Your world premiere is precious. No festival, no matter how prestigious, is worth sacrificing the potential of your film for. If you miss Sundance, there’s always Berlin, or SXSW, or Tribeca, or Toronto, or any number of other great festivals where new filmmakers get discovered or established directors get a career boost.
In the end, there’s only one thing that will sell your film and get you the kind of breakthrough results you’re hoping to achieve. Making a great film. Or, at the least, making the very best film you’re capable of.
And that comes from taking the time you need. It's one thing when circumstances require you to rush (pressure from investors, funders, broadcasters, etc.). It's another thing altogether when the pressure is self-induced.