Essential Advice For The Modern Filmmaker

Talk to any filmmaker about distribution and they will tell you the world has changed. Gone are the days when you simply made a movie and sold it to the highest bidder. These days everybody is making backyard indies. And the market is saturated with a never ending supply of mediocre movies. Suffice it to say, as a serious independent filmmaker, it is hard to get noticed.

In today’s article, I am going to provide some useful advice for The Modern Filmmaker. [Please  TWEET this article.]

Stop Thinking Like An Artist
To become successful, you need to stop crying about all the challenges. Instead you need to reshape your thinking. From now on, think of yourself as an entrepreneurial filmmaker. Adopt the philosophy of a thriving small business owner. You need to remember that your independent film business lives and dies by word of mouth.  And since your business is your audience, you need to make every effort to amplify your reach.

Make Remarkable Movies
Building your audience starts with engagement. And if you want to engage, you need to focus on making memorable, remarkable movies. A remarkable movie makes people take pause and tell their friends about it.  This starts with your log-line – What is your hook? Who is your audience? Why should we care? Answer these questions BEFORE you do anything else.

Reward Early Adopters
During the social window, you will receive emails from people asking when they can see your movie. And if you’re like most filmmakers, you will tell these eager fans that you’re waiting for a distribution deal. This is a mistake. These people are your most enthusiastic fans. These people will go the distance to become your word of mouth army.  What will you do to help them?

Pay The Price
When I started filmmaking, Hollywood was an impenetrable kingdom. To make a movie, you had to ask permission. But those days are over. With inexpensive cameras, social media, email lists and services like Chill, you now have direct access to your audience. Are you willing pay the price in terms of time, money, education and experience?

Filmmaking Resources
If you are ready to take action, I have put together a few resources for you. If you are still writing, you can check out this screenwriting guide. If you have a script and you are seeking investors, you can grab Tom Malloy’s Film Finance Guide. And if you’re looking for ways to market your movie, you can grab my sell your movie guide.


  1. D. L. Smith says

    I don’t Frank. I’m an indie filmmaker and have been since 2000. I’ve seen and experienced the change in the marketplace first hand. But, I looked at it as a business from day one. My very first film won 14 awards around the country. It landed me an opportunity to do a series of spec commercials for a well known Asian beer company, which paid me handsomely.

    From that point on I made money producing videos, PSA’s and short projects. On the feature film front, I reached the market before writing the script. I submitted the script to fierce critique from other filmmakers I planned to bring into the production, made adjustments and moved forward. Then I brought in seasoned people in production to help me accomplish my goal – producing a “sellable” product.

    With well thought out plans, I hoped for a good quality product (which we accomplished) but at the end of the day it must be sellable… if no one is willing to pay for it, then my personal investment of time and money was wasted. Keep doing what you’re doing Jason, you have an audience!

  2. says

    Thank you for the feedback Frank. My ongoing goal is to help filmmakers source and grow their audience so indie filmmaking can become a sustainable career.

  3. says

    Trouble is Jason, thinking like a business person is not why, nor what, attracts someone to filmmaking to begin with. Heck, if you simply want to make money, there are a whole lot of better and easier ways to do so. Therefore, indie filmmaking ONLY attracts the artist…someone who thinks it’s cool to make a movie. “Business” is an after-thought… and that’s OK.

    “Make Remarkable Movies”… Had a good chuckle there. It’s sort of like an old Steve Martin routine… How to make a million dollars in two steps. Step 1: Go out and get a million dollars. Step 2… Wait a minute… a bit easier said than done. Making remarkable movies is a Holy Grail.

    Having said all that… Indie Filmmakers will still be here, trying to find a new path. Your products have been invaluable and speak the truth.

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