Indie Filmmaking: Get Over It – It Ain’t Gonna Happen!
So you’ve made your first movie – congratulations! You have spent long, hard hours (days, months, years?) creating and realizing your vision. It’s only a matter of time before you are accepted to Tribeca, Sundance, or one of the other big festivals, and a fierce bidding war begins. only to secure you and your film millions of dollars and instant fame.
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it ain’t gonna happen.
I subscribe to several “DIY” newsletters and blogs, many of which feverishly cover all the exciting deals being made at Cannes, and offer negotiating tips about how to handle distributors and other high-end buyers.
This is like getting tips on your Academy Awards acceptance speech after your first High School play.
Sure, it’s okay to dream, but, then again it’s also important to wake up.
While there are a lot of success stories that you read about, of first-time filmmakers making the leap from obscurity to celebrity, the reality is there simply is a glut of product out there. Making a movie, once the achievement of a large group of people and hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars, can now be done by one person with an iPhone. My first film, The Great Intervention, was shot for $5000.
This is not terrible news, people! Every day, there are more and more places to sell, stream or share your movie online. And, every day, it is getting cheaper and cheaper to make them. This means – a) you can do it yourself, and b) you don’t need to go to the poorhouse spending all your money on marketing seminars, publicists, and Facebook Ads to recoup your costs. (If you’re smart like me, you raise the money for your film on Kickstarter, so you are not in the hole at all.) Every dollar that comes in is, technically, a profit.
I’m not going to lie to you – I have hopes just like you that my film will be seen by Harvey Weinstein. I’m just starting with smaller goals and expectations, and I suggest you do too.
- Enter film festivals with no or low entrance fees. Sometimes, you can email them and beg for a waiver. Not saying that happens much, but it could be worth a try.
- Focus on the community around the film. Actors, investors, and friends all want to see your film and have it succeed. Start with screenings that involve them and roll out from there.
- Always have a copy of your film on you – you never know who you are going to meet!
See you at Cannes!
Stephen Moramarco is a writer, actor, director and musician. He has been DIY-ing indie projects for over 20 years. His self-released indie CD Hill of Beans was a top-ten hit on college radio and the song “Satan, Lend Me a Dollar” was featured on Showtime’s Weeds. His latest project is his indie film debut, entitled“The Great Intervention”, which he made for $5000. He will be sharing his own insights and opinions on the current DIY revolution taking over… well, just about everything!