Independent Film Making
Updated: Nov 13, 2019
In years past it was much harder to break into movie making because all of the big studios monopolized it. An interested artist / producer would have to jump through hoops just to get a meeting with an entertainment executive and getting any deal was like winning the lotto. Luckily, with the advent of technology, streaming and numerous delivery outlets, the independent filmmaker has been able to step up from the ashes and present his or her creations on a more level playing field.
I have always been interested in the magical world of film making and as an independent filmmaker I have the ability to create whatever I want. I don't have a large studio telling me what to do or who to cast. There is a freedom that comes with this. I still analyze what I think people would like to see and what potential a particular project may have. Additionally , I align myself with other creative film makers that deliver consistent and reliable artistry.
Choosing the project: The most effective way to do an independent film is to come up with a concept that you enjoy and know. It should be something that can be shot easily and preferably in one location. The more locations your movie has , the more money it will end up costing you. This is because each move takes time and the goal is to shoot the movie in as few days as possible because you are paying a crew of individuals. The faster you can shoot it the better.
Finding the right team: When choosing who you work with get the most talented individuals that you can afford or make deals with. My last project was shot in the UK because I found a group of very talented people that could make movies and deliver the product very cost effectively. The locations were grander than the ones I could get where I live. The talent was motivated to do a great job. Below is a behind the scenes shot from the Witches movie I shot in the UK.
From my experience probably the most important requirement when putting together a movie is to get people that are easy to work with. Ask others that they have worked with what their experience has been. If you get any negative feedback think twice before inviting them on your project. This means stay away from divas or people that have the potential to complain during the shoot. You want to get artists that are passionate about working with you and on your film. One bad apple can poison the entire shoot. I had a first time director on one of my films threaten to walk off because he felt he wanted more perks than were initially agreed upon. I later learned that he sued another larger production because they omitted more of his part when he was working as an actor.
Another time there was a female actor that I was trying to help refuse to finish her part in the film and actually went so far as to steal the movie release form she signed.
Although we got through all of this, it is good to note these things can cause large problems if not resolved. On a positive note, I have had several great fun moments doing my independent filming and have maintained and made many close friendships.
Post Production: During the filming of the movie it really helps if someone is putting together a rough edit of the daily footage. After the movie is shot the post production is most important and should be pushed along as soon as possible. This is because the film could become old and lose relevance. Also, music, audio, sound effects, style of editing and timing of the movie is crucial. All of these factors could make or break a film in terms of quality. This is called production value.
Presenting the movie: After the movie is finished to satisfaction, having a screening is one of the perks that all of the cast and crew will enjoy. It is also a great time to get PR for your independent film. You can get sponsors for the screening and after party. It does not have to be elaborate and costly to be fun. Additionally, you can contact photographers to cover your event. It helps if you can get it on wire image. I will let you know how you can accomplish this in a future post.
Distribution: It helps if you have relationships with distributors. Ask around and try to find one that distributes the type of movie you are doing. Each distributor usually has their own niche and contacts as well as what movies work best for their company. I have worked a lot with ITN distribution who I trust and who I have always gotten great direction from. The distributor makes professional materials to sell the film properly and knows what their clients want and how it should look.
Distribution is a tricky thing as you can really get screwed if you get the wrong distributor or the wrong deal. There is also self distribution. I will talk more about both of these options in future blog posts!