Monday, August 31, 2009

Are Indie Filmmakers Too Independent?

Independent filmmakers often work in their own worlds, within their own cliques of people with whom they like working. This is good and bad. It's good because you can grow a small group of very loyal, similar thinking people that you can lean on for the long haul of filmmaking. It's bad because you may only have the people in your small group weighing in on your work. And those people may not have the experience yet to really help you propel your work to the next level. 

Are indie filmmakers working too much in a vacuum? Do we need a better means of expanding our worlds and having more checks and balances on our work? Personally, I try to create greater opportunities to expand my indie world. I work with some great people, but I think it's important to grow my world and get other people's perspectives on storytelling whenever I can.

I'm also wondering if we had more people involved earlier in the process then would more films have greater success on the festival circuit and at the box office? Something to think about.

I know there are programs out there to help us be better filmmakers. Here are a few:

Sundance Screenwriting, Producing & Director Labs
Film Independent Screenwriting, Producing & Director Labs
IFP Rough Cut Lab
Nicholl Fellowships for Screenwriting

Now the issue I have with the above labs are that they are very exclusive and geared primarily toward low budget independent filmmaking. What do the rest of us do when we aren't accepted to these programs or you want to develop broad comedies or thrillers or action pieces, etc.?

Well, the onus falls on you to get your own feedback. I know this isn't easy. Those who are good at development and successful in their careers are often super busy and don't have much time to spend teaching others how to improve their skills. This is where interning and assisting become a very valuable tool for your growth as a filmmaker. 

If you are having a hard time getting the guidance you need from organizations or seminars, etc., try spending time with successful people by offering your help. Many will take you up on your offer and you may find support and a mentorship that could really help you grow as an artist.

No matter what filmmaking is built on relationships. Don't be afraid to expand your network and share your work with those outside your inner circle. Being independent is great but it doesn't mean being alone.