With TV shows on the decline and facing a troubled future (and mark my words, Virtual Reality is a fad) indie filmmakers are now at the forefront of a new media landscape. But there are plenty of reasons to make indie films besides being on the cutting edge — let’s take a look at why so many of our most talented youngsters are turning to indie film…
1) To become your own film marketer and entrepreneur! The most exciting part about making indie films nowadays is that the actual movie is not what’s most important. It’s the marketing and business side that’s truly essential. To quote this article on The Death of the Artist — And the Birth of the Creative Entrepreneur (The Atlantic), “we don’t have to worry about the art anymore, we can just be business people like our parents wanted in the first place.”
2) To attend film festival panels and post film Q & A’s. If you love panels, indie film is for you. Any industry insider knows that the secret to film festivals is to skip the movies and instead, use your $600 badge to gain access to the always illuminating indie film panels. This is the best way to hear from the industry’s top middlemen. Be sure to pick the brains of these unsung heroes of artistic pursuit by asking tough questions. They’ll divulge priceless secrets like, “it’s important to get people’s email addresses” and “make your movie about something with a built-in audience.”
As far as those famous post film Q and A’s, what can be better than a scintillating conversation between filmmakers who clearly know why they made their movie, and audience members hungry to hear what camera they shot on.
3) To use the newest cameras. When making an indie film, it’s essential that you use the newest camera. I’m a broken record about this, but it’s true: never make an indie film unless you have the latest and greatest equipment! Once you’re ready to upload, please god make sure it’s in 4k. Use whatever free time you have to complain to the Vimeo staff that they aren’t 4K compatible. (Once everyone is 4K compatible, start complaining that they aren’t compatible with whatever comes after 4K)
4) To look like an auteur. When you see the on-set photographer lining up a shot of you behind-the-scenes, make sure you point at something so you look busy and in charge. It doesn’t matter what you point at it, just get that arm up.
And when you get to a film festival, take a bunch of pictures in front of the Press Wall Backdrops (see above) This reminds people of celebrities and so, even though it’s just you, you kinda seem famous.
5) To be honored at the annual Indie Spirit awards in sunny Los Angeles. This is the award show for the scrappy indie filmmaker. Blockbuster films like Birdman and The Silver Linings Playbook are not eligible so you don’t have to worry about competing with the Hollywood celebrity system. And, of course, the awards ceremony is not a fundraiser, so the biggest names won’t automatically win so they raise more money. Good news for you!
7) To get emails from people who saw your movie and think you can help them with theirs. Make sure you give out your email address publicly so that anybody can email you and ask for favors, such as putting them in touch with Janet Pierson or Sundance. You might even get an email from a student filmmaker inviting you to answer 20 questions for their class assignment! This is really cool because it’s fun to whip up 20 answers that no one will ever read except their professor.
8) To get emails from composers with a link to their awesome film score tracks. It’s so nice to hear from these random people who you’ll probably work with because you don’t have any friends who do music. A good idea is to use the music from the first composer who emails you their SoundCloud page.
9) To get an amazing distribution deal. As an indie filmmaker, you’ll have a tremendous wealth of distribution offers. All you’ll have to do is decide how much money you want in advance. There are hundreds of indie distributors who pay top dollars for premium indie product. None of these indie distributors prey off desperate indie filmmakers, offering them zero money, publicity or advertising. This which would result in an industry of middlemen, where the only people making a living are the distributors and aggregators. And that’s definitely not the case since we know plenty of indie filmmakers making a living off their films. We definitely do.
10) To make quick cash. Believe the hype. Indie film success is easy. Since we all have social media now, all you have to do is link to Amazon or iTunes. You should start Twitter accounts a month before your movie comes out to tweet, “Buy my movie” over and over. Use an app to automatically post the same tweet 100 times a month. I’ve said it before, but make sure NOT to use any of your own personality to promote your film. Just copy and paste typical marketing messages.
Well, I should get back to set now. Thanks for tuning in to another edition of my helpful knowledge. I hope you’ll join me in the #indiefilm community and movement. There’s a huge supportive network just waiting for you to make your first film. Once you make a film, you’ll join the family. Typical conversation after you’ve made a film:
“Have you made an indie film?” “Yes.” “Oh great, that’s all you need.” “Okay, glad to be a part of the family.”