Writer/director Sean Ackerman and I (and a number of other amazing cast and crew) made a film from 2002 to 2005 titled Straight Line. It was Sean's first feature as writer/director and my first feature as producer. We both came from production so we knew how to run a film set but we had no clue how to complete a film from beginning to end and then sell it!
The film was shot on three different formats and filmed in eight different countries. Sean drove from Montana down through South America to Belize and Panama and then drove back, filming on video. We then took a year to figure out how to finish the rest of the film on 16mm and 35mm. We had that shoot in Montana. We hiked up into the mountains with 35mm camera equipment on our backs. It was really quite amazing.
We had no money for a sound mix or a real color correction. We had no money for a composer so we had a friend who worked in music publishing find a band who would be interested in scoring the film for free. Sean edited the film in Final Cut Pro and had a friend at an editing facility help to put it all together on a Digibeta for us. Some way, some how it got finished for the price of an SUV.
I then started applying to film festivals. We had no reps helping us and we had no idea how to push the film to programmers (this process still eludes me a bit), but we miraculously got programmed into SXSW. Again, we had no idea what we were doing. I don't think Sean and I had even officially attended a film festival before -- certainly not as filmmakers. So we consulted with someone in the industry for a quite a bit of money (it was a lot to us) and were given basic advice for how to promote our film at the festival. And off we went!
We had a wonderful experience at SXSW. It's a great festival. I think getting kicked out of a downtown Austin bar was the highlight -- that's a story for another day. But seriously, we walked away from SXSW bolstered by what we had accomplished with so little. And now our little film is available on Amazon. Go Straight Line! You will forever be my first! And oh so shamelessly, here's the link to Straight Line on Amazon.