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Independent Film Making

As Connie Dunn, writer for the independent film magazine Indie Slate puts it, “the movie business is all about who you know. So if you’re starting out, you will have to get to know people in the industry. That requires good networking skills and opportunities to network.” Why make movies in the first place? With all the trials, struggles and anguish one goes through to create a picture, why bother? There are as many reasons as there are moviemakers. 

Someone somewhere once stated, “I want to tell small stories about people in just slightly extraordinary circumstances. As opposed to more mainstream films which are about people in really extraordinary circumstances.” Independent films are also the best vehicles to break stereotypes and bring diversity to the screen.

The opportunity to make your own movie has never been so available as it is today. An individual can write, cast, shoot, edit and distribute their own film. There are numerous opportunities to take weekend and crash courses in directing and producing. Although this is not a sure-fire way to strike it big in the industry, it is however, a way to get your feet wet and maybe meet others with whom future collaborations can be established.

“Relationships are what it’s all about in the film industry,” states screenwriter Dave Eisenstark. “No matter what your skills, nobody’s going to hire you to do anything in the business unless they know and like you, or at least know someone who knows and likes you.” 

Sometimes, it may seem like you can’t find that one break you are looking for. Whether it seems like no one will finance your film, or you just can’t find a distributor, or production in general is making you crazy, you must remember the reason you began the process in the first place. You begin the entire process with a single thought. This leads to a bigger, more realistic idea that you put down on paper or share with others. Now the ball is rolling and no amount of criticism or negativity can change your mind. 

Your job is to create a marketable product that can be easily distributed, then it is up to the distributors to take your product and run with it
Distribution is the driving force that makes the whole enterprise work. Without distribution, your film may be completed but it will never be seen. Distribution must become a priority for filmmakers. It should be considered part of your responsibility when you call yourself a filmmaker. 

Your job is to create a marketable product that can be easily distributed, then it is up to the distributors to take your product and run with it. With an outstanding film and a distribution company that excels in not only distribution but also marketing, your film could eventually be seen worldwide. This may seem like an impossible dream, but has become a reality for more than just a few filmmakers. 

Marketing is once again, probably the most overlooked aspect of the filmmaking process and the film’s success in general. Everyone must be sold on your project in order for it to have a chance in the market. This starts from the bottom up, meaning that it all begins with you, the filmmaker. 

Distributors, promoters, advertisers, and investors may all say how much they believe in and enjoy the film, but confidence in the project all begins with the one who initiates it. 

One of the most exciting things about filmmaking is that it never gets old. There are always new things to learn and explore. With the popularity of independent films these days, the potential of finding a venue to showcase your project is very feasible. Filmmaking is not for everyone but for those with the passion, drive and perseverance to succeed in the industry. 

FilmMakers recommendation

ACTION CUT - This is the most unique series of learning tools in the film industry that provides an in-depth look inside the directing craft on a step-by-step, shot-by-shot professional level of production from the written page through the moviemaking process to the final film.

The Independent Film and Videomaker's Guide, Second Edition (Michael Wiese Productions) (Michael Wiese Productions) by Wiese, Michael © 2004. 

VideoHound's Independent Film Guide, Second Edition by Monica Sullivan, Mare Winningham, John Pierson © 1999. 

The Guerilla Film Makers Handbook (All New American Edition) by Genevieve Jolliffe, Chris Jones  © 2004

Developing Story Ideas, Second Edition by Rabiger, Michael © 2005. 

Filmmakers and Financing, Fifth Edition: Business Plans for Independents by Levinson, Louise © 2006. 

Directing the Film : Film Directors on Their Art by Sherman, Eric © 1988. 

Writing Treatments That Sell: How to Create and Market Your Story Ideas to the Motion Picture and TV Industry, Second Edition by Kenneth Atchity, Chi-Li Wong © 2003. 

The Film Producer: An Industry Veteran Reveals What It Takes to Be a Producer in Today's Hollywood by Lazarus, Paul © 1992. 

Interpreting the Moving Image (Cambridge Studies in Film) by Noel Carroll © 1998.

Peterson's Breaking into Film: Making Your Career Search a Blockbuster (Breaking Into) by McHugh Kenna © 1998. 

So You Want to Make Movies: My Life As an Independent Film Producer by Pink, Sydney © 1989. 

The Big Deal: Hollywood's Million-Dollar Spec Script Market by Schuyler M. Moore © 2003.

Independent Feature Film Production: A Complete Guide from Concept Through Distribution by Gregory Goodell © 1998.

Movies and Money : Financing the American Film Industry
by Janet Wasko © 1982.

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