The only safe thing is to take a chance,” the late, great film director Mike Nichols, best known for making ‘The Graduate’, once said.
And in the film universe with that chance, you need to gather a team that has trust, respect, generosity and courage. Not easy. If that’s not enough, a fierce independent style coupled with being stubborn in a good way is the only way to survive all the ups and downs. But it’s worth it!
Indie every time
Being a filmmaker you basically you have two options: going the old school ‘corporate way’ via official funding bodies or doing it yourself with some alternative funding – what I call indie filmmaking.
The old school way is a bit like the dire ‘X Factor’ shows; a few will quickly judge you and then that’s it. Wouldn’t it be better to play your music in bars and small venues, grow and develop, and have something cool to show at the end? There is even a silly trend I see with production companies sending out ‘lotteries’ for upcoming filmmakers/actors/wannabes … but they still need to submit to the institutes, so lottery x lottery = why? My advice is just to do it yourself because it can be a great adventure.
A flutter without butter
Having made three of my very own feature films, I know it can be done – and that it’s just a matter of overcoming the fear and all the negative folk. I know several frustrated filmmakers who will end up doing ads for a living, and that’s a shame. I’m sure when they were young, they didn’t see an ad for butter and say “That’s what I want to be: a ‘butter ad maker’.” And for God’s sake, don’t get sucked into the lure of getting millions to make your project and end up sitting by the sidelines. Keep using what you have access to and grow and develop from there.
‘Bakerman’ is now in postproduction and a release is near the horizon. Our team was great! It’s so important you get the right crew and everyone is doing this because 1) they like you; 2) believe the project is interesting; 3) can have fun; and 4) develop and learn something new. Everyone benefits!
Always a way
What about equipment? Most folk have their own equipment, so ask around; even an iPhone has 4K video nowadays! You need to be flexible with your shooting schedule; actors, crew and helpers have many things going on in their lives, so keep an open mind.
For a big scene in ‘Bakerman’, I spent many weeks on social media gathering ‘statists’ (extras) and crew and booked a café location early – they kindly allowed us to use it for some film credits. The scene was a party scene that involved 15 guests. Arriving at 5 am, I felt exhausted already. But I slugged back a gallon of coffee, rehearsed the scenes quickly, shot the footage, and dispersed before the café opened at 11. Just another day on an indie film set. And the cast and crew loved it!
So take a chance and be what you want. Go travelling, go scuba diving, be a football player. Now this evening, I’m just tired, and I wonder if there’s a chance I can catch some sleep. No. I have to edit and sync all my film footage. Where’s that coffee again?
God Sommer – and see you at the movies!