In recent years, the dynamics of the film industry have undergone a significant shift and micro studios have become more in focus. This results from exploding production costs and changes in how movies are sold and distributed. That said, distributors and streamers are increasingly turning to smaller producers and micro studios to create compelling, cost-effective content that resonates with their customers. As a seasoned producer of micro-budget films, Indie Film Factory has been at the forefront of this trend, consistently delivering exceptional, cost-compelling entertainment that meets the demands of its distribution partner’s pipelines. In this blog post, we’ll explore the reasons behind this shift and share valuable tips on streamlining your indie filmmaking production workflow for maximum efficiency. This info will be helpful regardless of whether you’re producing films for others or making them for your catalog.
The Changing Landscape: Why Micro Studios Matter
The traditional film production landscape has evolved, allowing smaller producers to shine. Distributors and streamers are recognizing the advantages of collaborating with these studios for a variety of reasons:
- Cost-Efficiency: Micro Studios often have a knack for creating engaging content within budget constraints. Unlike some studios in Hollywood, where wasting money isn’t just expected but is a virtue, smaller studios like Indie Film Factory are not slowed down by showbiz’s overpriced corporate and litigious culture. Indie producers can gain speed and maximize efficiency without breaking the rules and taking shortcuts. We achieve this because we don’t have the constraints of corporate bureaucracy. Additionally, as indie producers, we are keen on where to save money and cut expenses. For example, we operate our studio more like an accounting firm, always taking inventory of what needs to cost money and what can be saved, reused, and repurposed for other things.
- Diverse Perspectives: Smaller producers bring fresh perspectives and unique storytelling. This typically comes from not having the luxury of cash. Being resourceful produces a different creative vibe on set and forces filmmakers to think “outside the box.” By doing so, indie producers can tell stories with a sense of scrappiness that can resonate with truth and freshness.
- Niche Appeal: Distribution pipelines crave diverse content to cater to specific audience segments. Genres are easier to program and have better strategic benefits. Micro film studios excel in tailoring content to niche markets, enhancing the overall variety available to viewers.
- Flexibility and Agility: Smaller studios can pivot quickly, adapting to industry trends and audience preferences. Think of micro studios like people on a speed boat. They can outpace the slow and oversized cruiseliner of Hollywood any day.
Streamlining Production Workflow: Tips for Success
If you want to get into this low-budget film game, here are some tips for getting started.
- Strategic Planning: Begin with a clear plan that outlines every aspect of the production, from scripting and casting to post-production. A micro-budget film’s success revolves around meticulous planning to ensure seamless execution.
- Collaborative Crew Selection: Assemble a talented, motivated team that shares your vision without breaking the bank. This is not to say to “not hire talented or skilled labor,” but to be wise about how overpriced some crew members can be. Sometimes, crew members want you to foot the bill for their opulent overhead. So, as a rule of thumb, the newer, fancier, shiner, and bigger their toys are, the more they will cost you. It’s better to find a lean and efficient crew that can work within standard daily rates or “all-in equipment packages.” The good news is there are plenty of talented “not-yet-discovered” or “not-yet-jaded” crew members that you can hire. That said, look for good quality character people above all, pay them fairly, feed them well, and never mistreat them with excessive or dangerous working conditions. Doing so will build long-term relationships that can last several projects.
- Resourceful Pre-Production: Optimize your resources by carefully selecting locations, props, and costumes that align with your vision and budget. You may dream of filming that ending kiss scene at the Tajmahal but may only be able to afford the local Applebees. Make it work, rewrite and be flexible to the confines of a low budget. Ultimately, as long as the acting is decent, the story is awesome, and your lighting, camera, and sound quality are above board, you will be okay!
- Efficient Shooting Schedule: Create a shooting schedule that maximizes productivity and minimizes downtime. One of the biggest wastes on a schedule is “company moves.” This means every time, you have to pack up your gear and crew and move them from one place to another in a single day. Don’t do that! Create a schedule that consolidates locations and maximizes coverage based on the scene. Also, work within a standard 9-hour day and limit your page count of filming to roughly 4-6 pages of the script. It may also be a good idea to determine how many pages your screenplay is in the first place. If you’re making a sub $100,000 movie, aim for 75-80 pages. You can always fluff up the credit sequence later to add some running time if needed, but for every page, it can cost you $1000’s bucks! You’re script may need to go on a diet.
- Post-Production Excellence: Leverage editing techniques and software to enhance your film’s narrative during post-production. In today’s crazy tech world, making an ugly-looking edit is almost impossible, but shockingly, many indie filmmakers still manage to do that. Take time to learn your editing skills. Watch great films and focus on pacing and visual storytelling. Take advantage of free 3d software like Blender and Unreal Engine to help you add some bling to your VFXs. Ultimately, the movie is only as good as the edit, so plan for this process to be your most comprehensive.
In conclusion, the shift towards smaller producers and micro studios like Indie Film Factory is a testament to the industry’s evolving landscape and commitment to saving itself from ruin. As distributors and streamers recognize the value these studios bring to their distribution pipelines, collaboration and success opportunities grow. By embracing the insights shared in this blog post and drawing inspiration from Indie Film Factory’s track record as a producer of films, you can navigate the evolving industry landscape and create content that captivates audiences worldwide.
Are you a distributor or Streamer looking to bulk up your content? Contact Indie Film Factory to see how we can be a valued producing partner on your next film.