An Analysis of Internet Trends for Indie Filmmakers

Over at Medium.com Marc Schiller has what he calls an ‘evolving document’ where he takes a look at what the internet has to offer – and NOT offer – the independent filmmaker. The article has a great format – each point has a headline and sub-headline that accurately tags his thoughts. You can read deeper on areas of interest to you.

He points out, for example, that blogs like this one – ‘curated’ content – are a thing of the past. This is the story of my life. A day late and a dolla short.

But Schiller covers lots of things in film promotion and gives lots of what to do and not do. Definitely one of the most insightful articles of the year.

Suffer no illusions – for most of us there is no ‘film business’ any more

It’s pretty grim reading.

Modern cinema icons like Spike Lee, David Lynch, John Waters and more can’t get movies made. As detailed in this somber article from Flavorwire.com, there is no such thing as a mid-budget film any more.

If you think you are going to get into this business and have a career like you imagined your cinema heroes had, you are wrong. Simple as that.

Am I saying don’t try? No. But be aware of the situation out there. And make the most amazing, incredible films you can for the money you can find. Films that appeal to the masses, or a big enough mass, that will get you noticed by studio, press and audience alike.

But it’s going to be tough. For the foreseeable future.

Ryan Gosling wants $7m to be in your indie

Maybe it’s my mood, but, I find this article from the Hollywood Reporter a little depressing. It is all about the spiralling actors fees to be in indies.

To quote:

Five years ago, everything was great. Budgets were small, and actors wanted more interesting roles — so if you had a $3 million movie, they’d be willing to do it for $150,000 or $300,000. But many of those films had a hard time at the box office. As an industry, our reaction has been to make more commercial movies, the sort of movies the studios have abandoned.

What this means is that now there are lots of indie’s pushing up the rates and true indies, in this gone-mad world where anything under $2 million is called ‘micro budget’, are finding it harder and harder to attract top talent interested in ‘slumming’ it for a good cause.

This means we can’t get name talent, and without name talent you can’t get funding and without funding you might as well get a box of old dresses and put a show on in the barn.

Here’s the article that brought me down.

Cool SF on no(low) budget? Yes, it’s possible!

Over at NoFilmSchool.com they’ve got a tip of the hat to the guys at Hive Division, an indie production house in a tiny town in Northern Italy! Yes, I want to live and work there! 🙂

Anyway, the guys at Hive created this rather awesome 12 minute Sci-Fi short on no/low budget and it looks friggin amazing! It shows that if you know your way around VFX yourself you can get amazing value for money.

On the page is the short film as well as a (all too short!) look at the making of.

Inspiring!

Tips on producing a good short film

There’s an article on from Richard C. Bailey about things he learned making his short film ‘Cleave’. It boils down to 1 thing really – find good people and let them do their thing.

Richard breaks it down a little more than that, but that’s the jist.

My only issue, and ok I’m in a bit of cynical mood today, is that Richard titles his piece “The 5 (or maybe 1) things you MUST know before making your first GOOD indie film”.

In truth, we don’t KNOW if Richard’s film is any good. Of course he says it is. I’ve never met a director who says ‘oh, I’ve just made the biggest piece of crap’. Though you learn MORE from the crap than the good, it’s nice to make good. I hope for Richard’s sake the film IS good, but, it’s a bit early in the day to start writing articles with a title like that as it might come back to bite you in the butt.

Now, Richard might also be defining ‘good’ in a different context. Not artistically, but, practically. He got through the shoot. They got all the shots (though in the trailer I have issues with the lighting!).  In that sense the film shoot was ‘successful’, though perhaps using a word like ‘good’ is not the best thing.

Anyway… please don’t listen to me. I HAVE made crap films. A lot of them. I can’t seem to STOP making crap, though I learn every step of the way.

Oh yes… here’s Richard’s article:

Director, meet DP. DP, meet Director

Over on the FilmCameraCourse blog they’ve got an article that helps two key creative people – the Director and the DP – understand each other’s perspective.

The DP handles the technical aspects of the shooting the film, the director the ‘creative’ aspects (ok, it’s not that cut and dried, but you get the idea). But, because of the whole left-brain, right-brain thing that the great creator saddled us with, sometimes these two prime movers of a movie have a gap of understanding.

The article gives 6 handy tips that each should remember when dealing with the other.

Now, if you are BOTH a DP and Director then I guess you have to remember these things when talking to yourself.

Amazing Masterclass in Guerilla Shooting (on a GH4!)

Sherif Mokbel has shot a great little short film using a Panasonic GH4.

But, perhaps more important to the world of indie filmmakers than his finished project is his incredible generosity in detailing every aspect of this shoot, from planning to post.

This is a one page on-set masterclass. I truly learned a lot about process and technique from this post!

Thank you Sherif!

Oh, and the film looks great.

Listen, Filmmakers – Cory Doctorow is speaking to you

Back in 1991 or so I used to sit next to Cory Doctorow at EFF meetings in Toronto. He will have no recollection of the outrageously long haired, camouflage-wearing techie next to him, but, I do remember the interest he exhibited even then in the concepts of electronic freedom and copyright.

He has shown that passion to the world in the last few years with a number of fascinating and insightful books – like his latest, “Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free”.

Over at Salon.com they’ve got an interview with Cory where he discusses the impact of the changing marketplace and copyright. Filmmakers – ESPECIALLY independent ones – need to heed his words. We have to know a possible future of the distribution of our work.

It’s fascinating reading. You know, being a filmmaker is NOT all about the creative vision.

10 years on – the impact of ‘Saw’

I don’t like horror films. Especially bloody, torture-fueled ones. The kind epitomised, in my mind, by films like ‘Saw’.

This Halloween was the 10th anniversary of this film, that, while I don’t like the content, I can’t argue with the approach and the financial reutrns.

Over at the moviepilot they’ve got a good article on the making of the film with quotes from the principals involved. It’s an interesting piece, not least of which is the revealing of the motivation behind the producers making it.