Making comedy movies post pandemic! In Search of Laughs?
This could be the year for comedy movies? Well… It’s still 2020! A fiery political season is roaring to it’s stressful end. The world is crippled with a pandemic. The economy is in shambles. Our leadership looks to have failed us on every level. The world is on fire, and being pelted by global climate change. How does a comedy movie sound?
Let’s be real. The need for laughter in our lives has never been more crucial. Over the past several years, I have discussed the topic of comedy filmmaking, especially on the micro budget movie level. Historically, comedy is the most profitable genre across most movie marketplaces. However, for indie filmmakers, the genre has been tabo and is often advised against. The logic for years has been that the global market doesn’t like comedy at an indie level. There’s a need for big stars, and humor doesn’t translate unless it’s expensive. Well toss out those old adages and take note: 2020 has changed the trajectory of filmmaking forever!
Despite what distributors or gurus (including myself) have told you in the past, comedy is not dead for indie filmmakers. In fact, making a low-budget comedy movie might just be the most effective thing you can produce in the next twelve to eighteen months. With covid redistricting your crew and cast sizes, and budgets being smaller, it might be a perfect and forgiving genre for you to explore. Plus, domestic streaming services are in great need of diverse content. Hollywood is moving at a snail’s pace, and there is a massive content shortage as we move into 2021. Here are a few thoughts on how to get moving in the right direction with your comedy.
- Find a good comedy writer or script. It goes without saying, you need to have a good script, no matter the movie. This is especially true if you are making comedy. The production value and aesthetics of your film can be far below industry norms, but if your writing sucks, your movie will tank! Try to find someone who understands timing, and humor. Find a writer that can induce the mood of society through humor.
- Make your comedy timely and topical. Avoid too much preachy political dogma, but find a balance of entertainment and current satire. Right now, everyone in the world has the same look on their face – It’s the look someone gets when they smell a fart! Use this moment of truth to find a common thread.
- Aim for quality camera, lighting and sound. Although the crew may only consist of you, and your pet donkey, you should take time to plan out your shots and make it at least memic a piece of cinema.
- Don’t spend too much money, and keep your cast count tight! Although comedy feels like it should be an ensemble experience, keep your budget lower by creating situational experiences with fewer actors.
- Find funny-ass people. There are tons of comedians out there just itching to be back on stage. Take this crappy covid situation to present an opportunity to others. Working with this group of artists should be collaborative and beneficial for everyone.
- Get a good editor. Time is money in comedy. Take time to watch great comedy movies, including the ones from the earlier years of cinema. Take note in pace, style and timing. Find an editor who can emulate the type of pacing you are going for. Too slow, too fast, your edit could miss the mark. Be careful and have a plan.
- Release via aggregators. I wouldn’t waste too much time trying to find a distributor for your indie comedy. Rather, I would invest in hiring an aggregator and spending some money on social media and keyword marketing.
As I digress, comedy movies are about two things… It’s about truth and soul. I would encourage all of you to ask yourselves, “what is your favorite comedy?” from there, take some time to research, breakdown and reversengeneer that movie. See what works and what gives it soul. Find the truth in your narratives. Have fun and explore. If nothing else, make 2020 the year to experiment and create test projects!
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my latest books on the topic of indie filmmaking: They are available on Amazon!
Have a great weekend. Go vote. Wear your masks!