Working in film distribution, one of my previous jobs involved pitching a catalog of movies to the El Rey Network. Talking with those guys was surreal in a sense, because I remember reading and being inspired by (the founder of El Rey) Robert Rodriguez’s book Rebel Without a Crew.
Rebel Without a Crew tells the story of how Robert Rodriguez was able to fund (and then make) his first feature by donating his body to science. The book is written as a diary. And most entries revolve around Robert’s one definite purpose of making his first feature film. Even though the book is dated, it is still an important read for every filmmaker.
Are You A Rebel Without a Crew?
You see, before filmmakers had digital technology, filmmakers had to shoot on film. And shooting on film was completely cost prohibitive. You not only needed the film stock, but you needed film equipment, film processing and off-line editing. Then once you had a cut, you had to go back and transfer your film to video.
Despite these challenges, Rodriguez made it happen. He started his filmmaking career using a clunky and loud 16mm camera (and got around the sound issues by recording his dialogue .) The point is, if Rodriguez could could cobble together the courage and resources to make his first feature film, what is your excuse?
For me, there is one idea that resonated. I realized the sooner I stopped asking permission to follow my dreams, the sooner I could accomplish them. If you’re interested, you can a copy of Rebel Without a Crew from my Amazon affiliate link here.
Leverage The Resources You Have
For your first filmmaking projects, you may have to carry out your productions without a crew. This will be challenging. But forcing yourself to create small projects (and finish your work) will help you level up to bigger and more ambitious projects.
How do you go from being a Rebel Without a Crew to a filmmaker with a (small) crew?
Once you have a short, two minute movie you’re proud of, consider putting it into some film festivals. Going to the festivals will help you network and find other people who complement your skill set.
If you want to direct, find yourself a cinematographer. If you are a writer, find a director. And if you have no idea how to put the pieces together, find a producer.
1. Visit film festivals.
2. Call your state film office and ask for a film guide. Call people in the guide.
3. Post an ad in Craig’s list.
4. Find a camera – any camera and recruit your friends.
5. Move to LA or New York City.
A word of caution. Create short films first. This will allow you to see the darker side of your team. In other words, if you work with a jerk on a small project, please don’t work with the person again. Call this your jerk filter. Go become a Rebel Without a Crew and make a movie. And if you’d like more info on the modern indie film process, check out my filmmaker action pack.