Tuesday, September 29, 2009

How to Make Indie Movies Today

It's true the independent film world is a mess right now. I'm so embroiled in it right now that I've been MIA trying to wrap my head around the madness and its effects on my projects. 

Amidst the madness, I got to thinking...

So how do we keep making movies? The best answer I could come up with was: Where there is a will, there is a way. And it's that will of indie filmmakers that will keep the industry going. 

I keep reading all of these articles and summaries of roundtables and panels and I keep hearing the same thing -- the indie market has fallen apart and no one can figure out how to make the business model work anymore. 

As we are trying to figure out a way to sell our films, why don't we look at how to make them? 

The key to making movies today is making them with less resources. Even though it may be your 4th or 5th movie and your budgets grew each time, you may need to make your next film for the smallest budget yet. 

That's right, make your movies for less money. There are less buyers and less money to buy. So if you want make movies now for the indie market and want to feel somewhat competitive, make a good, entertaining film on a really small budget. 

And that ain't easy folks. I've made a ton of micro-budget films and each one has given me a chunk of the wonderful grey hair I now have on my head. But if you want to keep making movies in this environment then embrace the grey. 

You may be saying to yourself, "I paid my dues. It's time I were paid a decent salary to make a movie." Well, you can either keep thinking that or make a movie. 

Making a movie for little money doesn't mean you have to do it for free. Give yourself a great pay day for when the film does make money. And if you are making a quality film, despite the lack of resources, then you will most likely make some money. So gamble on yourself and you just might get a great pay off, maybe not today, but perhaps tomorrow. 

Or you can sit back and cry about not finding that $2 to $5 million to make your movie. And while you are crying, me and my fellow micro-budget filmmakers will go make some more movies. Won't you join us?


Jentri said...

I'm in! ;)

Dan Ouellette said...

Exactly right.

D.A. Sebasstian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
D.A. Sebasstian said...

Thats how I have been doing it- my last film Hot Rod Girls Save The World cost around $2,600 to make. My current film Rat Rod Rockers! will cost less. Both are better than many big budget indie-films. Make movies for the right reason- to create. Not to make money. Hollywood is dying. DIY mofos! I am currently scripting my next film The Legend Of D.B. Petty to shoot next year.

Price Jaccobi said...

I can see many filmmakers cringe at the idea but I think you are correct: this is not a way to make a lot of money, and you will have to assume more risk.

The days of getting paid well up-front while the financiers take all the chances are over. The truth is that those people eat a loss for you, but they would also make way more than you if it was a huge success.

A fairer way to do things would be like you propose: keep it cheap, don't expect it to get easier next time, and we all make money when the film makes money.

The one thing I might add is for filmmakers to think beyond the traditional full-length feature film. Given the proliferation of cable channels, there is opportunity for a series instead of a one-off film.