Indie Filmmaking As Your Business

If you’ve been following Filmmaking Stuff for some time, you probably know that this site really pushes non-permission based filmmaking. This concept means that if you’re a filmmaker with ambition and a dream, you should not hesitate… You should not wait for Hollywood to give you permission – but rather, you should pick up a camera and Make Your Movie Now!

For some of you, this is easier said than done. Part of why this seems challenging and impossible is because many of us start our career with the belief that filmmakers need a gazillion dollars, tons of experience and an address in Hollywood to make a living as a “real” filmmaker. While this was once true, the new model of movie making allows you to create and sell movies from anywhere in the world.

For many, this filmmaking evolution is exciting. But the classic elements of filmmaking remain. You still need a great story, the passion and persistence to bring your movie to life, and the guts to share your work with the world. To give you a rough plan of how to get your indie movie business up and running, I’ve provided a few steps. (Where I thought it would help, I also included links to some sponsored filmmaking tools and services.) Ready:

  1. Create relationships with at least 5-10 collaborators who complement your skill set. At the very least, you’ll want to find a writer who understands budgets, a physical producer experienced in low budget movie making, a tech guru who understands cameras and modern production gadgets, a sales and marketing professional who can promote the heck out of your movies, an editor with Final Cut Pro, an internet guru who can help you promote and sell your movies online. And you’ll also need a lawyer who can provide you with the necessary legal advice, contracts and advice on setting up a business.
  2. Come together as a team and design a movie that can be explained in one high-concept log-line. It has been my experience that original, genre specific movies with a bit of controversy, geared towards a clearly defined target audience will later help you when it comes time to market and sell your movie. And above all, your movie idea should be totally fun and captivating. (Otherwise, why make the movie?)
  3. Design a YouTube channel for your “production company.”
  4. Once you have a title for your movie, reserve domain name and get a website. I use this company www.MovieSiteHost.com
  5. Break down your sceenplay. Out of this, complete your schedule and your budget. Then analyze your budget. Ask yourself: If we do not garner a traditional distribution deal, how many $4.99 VOD downloads will we need to sell to get a return? At this point you can decide to decrease your budget, or not. But once you decide on your budget and the amount of sales you’ll need to make to get a return, you can then begin planning your marketing strategy. If you have money, hire a great Production Manger. If you don’t have money, you’ll have to do your own breakdown. CLICK HERE for a great script breakdown resource.
  6. Once you have a concrete filmmaking strategy, you can go after your money. Investors like to see three things in your business plan, who is running the company, how you’ll spend the money and how you’ll make a profit. Unlike years past, iTunes, Amazon and Netflix provides you a somewhat easily accessible distribution pipeline. This will assist you in getting the necessary movie money. If you don’t know how to find prospective investors, see: www.GetMovieMoney.com
  7. After you lock down your money, you can go into pre-production full force. Hire a great 1st AD.
  8. Make your movie! Edit your movie. Refine your edit. Then…
  9. Two things have to happen. You have to spread the word of your movie. This can be done by entering film festivals. Additionally, you have to start building a big audience list, so you can tell them about screenings and ask them to BUY your movie. Get your movie onto iTunes, Netflix and Amazon. Try www.MovieSalesTool.com
  10. Once you get your movie out there and selling, focus on fueling your marketing with ads, PR and partnerships with other filmmakers.

And after you do this once, the way to become successful is to create more and more movies. Remember, your goal is to create at least 20 movies in your life time, so that you can get at least 20 checks in the mail each month!

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