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Independent Film Making page 3

An independent producer is someone who works outside the studio system and collects funding from private investors. The money invested can be obtained from such places as banks, business owners, wealthy friends, and even relatives. The downside of this is that many of these people willing to finance films are doing it for the wrong reasons. 

For instance, a lot of people are looking for the glamour and fame of the movie business. Many people in film and video projects have disagreements because there wasn't a clear understanding in the beginning. Everyone had a different idea about who would get what. It is extremely destructive to the morale of the cast and crew and the filmmaking community as a whole. 

Written agreements can alleviate much of the misunderstandings and subsequent bad feelings that arise when artistic people join in creative and business ventures. Being independent could also mean that although the producer is receiving money from a studio, they still retain control over the project.

A film is a bundle of rights. Everything and everyone that appears in, or participates in the making of the film needs a contract or agreement. When a project is truly independently financed, the producer can keep more control over the project and possibly sell off the rights separately to various companies and organizations. They must obtain all the rights in the film, including all the various media rights (theatrical, broadcast, home video, multimedia, etc) in order to sell the film to distributors, broadcasters, etc. 

If you inadvertently leave out the rights for one participating actor or key creative talent, it is likely the film will get held up from distribution as a distributor will require that you show proof that you have cleared all rights in a film. A producer who has retained the rights to a project can make separate deals for distribution of the film to various theaters as well. When these distribution rights are kept, the producer will then receive more of the profits that are brought in by the film.

Working outside of a studio will also bring a producer the benefit of saving a great deal of money in the production of a movie. The producer will be able to form his own opinions and make his own decisions concerning the film, without the constant pressure of a studio leaning over his shoulder. If a studio were involved, every monetary decision the producer makes would have to receive the studio's ok. 

Only the director stands apart from any one particular contributory element but lends to all of them a sense of the pictures entirety.
The independent producer will know exactly how much money he can spend because he makes his own budget depending on how much money he has received from investors. There are also numerous independent production companies throughout the U.S. that are actively looking for new, unique projects and material. Many of these companies offer screenwriting competitions, with the winners given an opportunity for a production deal or script option. 

Music rights can be difficult and troublesome to secure. Music that has already been recorded on records involves getting signed releases not only from the recording artist, but also from the composer, record company and publishing company. Furthermore, the musicians union requires that you pay re-usary fees. 

Dealing directly with small, independent record or publishing companies that are owned by the recording artists themselves, you can make an arrangement for the rights with one person (usually the musician/composer) and be done with it. A very simple and effective way to handle music rights is to hire a composing student from the music department of a local university to do the score. Not only will they be delighted to get the experience, but given the opportunity will probably deliver a great sounding track. 

You can either record union or non-union musicians. If your budget can afford it, hire a professional composer. You can also go to a music library and pay needle-down license fees for music. The rates vary depending on how many selections you choose, the total length of your film, and the market (educational, television, theatrical). The fees are called needle-down because you are charged every time you use that music.
Most first-time filmmakers make the picture as the money raised allows... by beginning before you have all the money, you will have something to show to potential investors
The rights to use artwork, paintings still photographs or other copyrighted material may be obtained by paying a flat fee to the owner of the material. The same is true for stock footage which is purchased on a per foot basis. The price is usually dependent upon your use: educational, documentary, feature film, television, music video, etc. 

For those who are on a very tight budget, once again turn to those you know for help. Although friends or family members may have a little artistic talent themselves, by having them take photos or paint a picture that you can utilize will not only save you money, but will give them a chance to showcase their work in your film.

Many filmmakers are unable to raise the entire budget needed for the film production at the start. Most first-time filmmakers make the picture as the money raised allows. It is not an easy task to perform and for many it may take years. Although this is not the best way to do things, often filmmakers feel they have no choice. The upside to this is that by beginning before you have all the money, you will have something to show to potential investors and you will continue to move toward your goal. 

The downside of raising only a part of the total budget is the pressure you will feel holding two jobs- one as filmmaker the other as fund-raiser. Unfortunately, even the best films of all time looked awful in the early stages. Without color-correction, effects, titles and a sound mix it's hard for anyone to imagine what's not there. The minute you've made your disclaimer about what is not there and you turn the lights out, everyone will believe he or she is watching a real film. 

Even though you tell them before hand, most people will think they are watching your completed work. The result may end up being that your investors don't think you make very good films! It's all negotiable. Remembering that will make a great difference on your bottom line. An exciting thing about movie making is that there are few rules. It is an entrepreneurs business. You can make movies with a small budget or with a big budget. It all depends on the skill of the entrepreneur. Approach negotiation with an attitude that people already want to work with you. This will put you in the right frame of mind when approaching people.

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