Many times an independent filmmaker considers indie film to be sacred and avoids working with studios. Other filmmakers think studio movies are the ONLY movies that count. They discount indies as a calling card to simply get noticed by the studios. And yet other filmmakers just want to get their film made!
Years ago it was different. When a DVD market existed (we’re going back like 15-20 years now), and there weren’t streaming platforms, you could make an independent film for a few million, and with certain names, you’d guarantee a return on your investment. Now it’s a little more difficult, but you can succeed… it just takes a little more finesse.
How To Become A Modern Independent Filmmaker
Here’s what hasn’t changed: you always needed to have access to film markets, and, more specifically, sales agents and distributors.
The plan of making the movie and then just thinking: “If we get into festivals and create buzz and get noticed by a distributor, we might have a chance at recouping the investment,” was never really a plan.
The flaw there is that they always publicized movies where that was the case. But they also publicize lottery winners too!
The one thing I’ll say is that, years ago, it cost more money to make indie films. That sounds strange, because of inflation, but it’s true. Technology and a competitive marketplace has allowed for indie films to be made for under $1 million and look great.
So you have to formulate a plan. And that plan should be something like this: pick a film in a “sellable genre,” cast the biggest name stars you can get, establish a relationship with a great sales agent, and then make the film for a price.
Now you have the best shot at making money with your film.
Experience Builds Confidence
Actually, I’m going to contradict the headline I just wrote. Some independent filmmakers don’t get it. Since they may not follow the best plan and experience failure over and over, they may end up being cynical and depressed. But, if you have a plan to make your film in the best way possible, then your experience can only lead to more and more confidence!
Here’s a video I put together that talks about stacking the deck in your favor BEFORE you make a movie. I hope it gives you an idea of how to set yourself up for success as a modern independent filmmaker!
So when we talk about becoming a modern independent filmmaker, the goal is this. If you want to be a working, successful filmmaker, you need to set yourself up for success. You need to know the markets. You need to know the industry. Then, you can make moves that only support your hopefully long and fruitful career.