Sunday, August 01, 2010
Independent Film In The Rat Race
This week we’re pleased to present our first Guest Blogger on Movie Beach, please feel free to post your comments. We’re always interested to hear suggestions for topics you’d like to see covered in the areas of movie finance, investment and film-making in general, so let us know what's on your mind.
The film industry is in an interesting state right now. With studios leaning more towards known material such as sequels, remakes and books we are seeing a trend that is opening doors for independent filmmakers to make their mark and join in the race. It was just a few years ago that independent films started to become more than just a straight-to-DVD commodity that was lucky to get any attention. It became an important necessity for an industry that could no longer afford to risk making films that weren’t guaranteed blockbuster status.
Hollywood’s overall box office numbers may have be down a smidge earlier in the year, but studios are bringing in nearly the same amount of revenue on higher ticket prices and half the number of movies that were being made ten years ago. In other words studios want a guarantee that a movie is going to make money or the project will die. There are a few exceptions though. Sometimes movies get made with questionable scripts, but it’s the star power that gets attached that green lights the movie and guarantees a big opening weekend and profit. A perfect example would be a movie that premiered last Valentine’s Day (I can’t seem to remember the name of it). It was the perfect example of a movie that had an All-Star cast, a proven director, a perfect release date, and was guaranteed to be a money maker. It’s too bad the film was terrible. It’s movies like these that prove that independent film-making can continue to blossom and prove they belong by creating telling works of art with actors who will give their right arm to start their career.
While everyone seemingly has a script in Hollywood, this is the time for action. Studios are constantly looking for independent films that show great story, production value, and are entertaining. Independent movies that show potential for box office success have studios clamoring and bidding to get their hands on them and shove them in theatres. In today’s market studios don’t want to take the risk of financing a project with a new film-maker, but they are willing to buy a final product if it is filmed properly and acted well. Some of these movies’ budgets are less than the cost of a new car, have actors working for free, and DP’s running around with standard light bulbs and cardboard reflectors. While this may not be the most attractive way to create a film it’s a win-win situation for new film-makers who just want to create and studios who are only looking to buy.
Before running into the forest at night to shoot the next big horror movie, film-makers should seriously consider the many resources online that can help prepare for an independent movie. Sites like Outofobscurity.com can help find financing, and Zoetrope.com and Massify.com can help in getting feedback and reviews on your script. Screenplay competitions like the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting and BlueCat are two of the most well known, but be leery of others and do your research. Use sites like Actorsaccess.com for casting, and if you don’t want to pay for the account fee then go old school and start posting auditions on Craiglist.com. The resources are out there, they’re just not the big budget ones. Besides, nothing is more liberating than being your own boss: that’s why it’s called independent.
As an independent film-maker you can write your script, cast your actors, guerrilla shoot it on a beggar’s budget and find the success you are looking for. In order to do it though there are sacrifices to be made (most of them financial), and absolutely no guarantees. If you believe in your script, your actors, and most importantly yourself, your chances are a lot greater than if you gave up and didn’t make your movie at all. Creating an independent movie can end up being one of the most satisfying things you do in life. Success itself is dependent on preparation, quality and a little bit of luck. So while the rat race may be a clogged maze of big budget films, the independent film-maker can think outside of the box and still finish with a movie in theatres.
Christopher Ray Allison
The Out Of Obscurity team