My first short indie film was a two-day shoot with a crew of maybe four. We had a budget of under a thousand dollars, which also needed to cover post and festival submissions. Our cast worked for credit and supplied their own costumes. And because we didn’t hire a professional sound crew, some of the audio was unusable. Ugh. I shiver at the memory.
5 Little-Known Factors That Could Affect Your Indie Film
Every filmmaker learns lessons on their first film and well, pretty much every film after that too. In an effort to help you learn from my mistakes, here are five little-known factors that could affect your indie film.
1. Location Power: Find out if you need a generator for your lighting and gear because if so, you should know these are very heavy and your DP will likely need a truck with a way to get it up and down. Also, you do not want to blow a fuse you can’t fix in the middle of your shoot.
2. Parking Expenses/Gas: This is such an easy thing to forget to add to your budget and yet, it can add up insanely quick. It’s best to have your parking needs planned for in preproduction but don’t forget these include fees and gas for any crew vehicles (and FYI, rental trucks are gas guzzlers.) Have petty cash on hand also for runs your PAs do, and they will do runs.
3. Get Releases For EVERYTHING: Have ALL needed filmmaking releases ready to be signed, when the person is RIGHT IN FRONT of you or your team. Releases are not just for actors and people in the shot. They are needed for the use of private property, copyrighted material and photos… Tracking people down for these after the film is shot is time-consuming and tedious. Additionally, your releases will be required to sell your film. So don’t mess around with this.
4. A Trained Still Photographer: Still photography is an important part of your shoot. Set photos can come in handy for marketing and promotion purposes not to mention, audiences love behind the scenes shots. Trained photographers will use the proper gear to keep their camera’s actions silent and flash from being in your shot. This is extremely important for your coverage.
5. You Get What You Pay For: If you aren’t paying for it, then it’s wise to have backups ready to spring into action. People will commit till they’re blue in the face and yet still consider it voluntary and not a real job. On one of my shoots, I was able to have an extra stand in when a cast member didn’t show because I had given all the extras the entire script so they would know the story. Because of this, one extra learned his lines quickly, already knowing the context of the scene within the story and was able to replace the missing actor.
As a little bonus advice, make sure you wear comfortable shoes and clothes. This is not the time to wear those boots that look cool but kill your feet and it’s best to have clothes that you can move freely in. While this may sound like common sense also, trust me, it isn’t for everyone.
Armed with knowledge learned on many production jobs, Christina Parisi began making films in 2006. Her short films have played at film festivals throughout the world and can be found on Amazon and GaiaTV. Her latest short documentary, Just Married, is about to hit the 2017 festival circuit. As Christina seeks financing for her co-written feature script, Driving Your Mind, she spends her time working as a script analyst and writing her personal blog, Life As I Know It.