Independent filmmaking and starting small
Shh! There’s a big secret when it comes to independent filmmaking – and I’m not talking about that movie on the law of attraction. I’m talking about the secret that most filmmakers and creatives fail to understand. The secret is: You should never, ever be afraid to start small with your independent filmmaking!
Let me explain…
Over the last decade, I’ve consulted filmmakers with all sorts of grand ideas. Many of them have big dreams of raising millions for their movies, or attracting the biggest names in entertainment. Can you guess what happens to about 99% of these independent filmmaking dreams?
Yep. You guessed it…
A vast majority of those plans fizzle out, and it’s not because these things are impossible, but because they require a few other things in order to achieve. They require time, leverage and connections. Each of these areas could take a person years to establish. Most creative people have zero patience when it comes to the backend work it takes to build a independent filmmaking enterprise.
So, then what?
Well, this is where starting small becomes your best foot forward. Most filmmakers want to start at the top. They want to start their first independent filmmaking project as an A-list caliber movie. Although it may seem admirable to dream big, most of the time, the filmmaker stumbles, loses interest, runs out of money, or just flat out falls short. Worst of all, they get discouraged, and they are less likely to continue on the path of filmmaking.
When starting your filmmaking career, you should be doing whatever you can to create, no matter the scale or budget! Create anything. Create a short film. Create a beautiful vignette on something, a music video, business profile video, compilation of photos. Create anything that can give you a starting point to build upon.
Another aspect of starting small is not thinking about the gear! Gear and fancy equipment is a dream killer for many independent filmmaking projects, and with great reason. Film tools such as cameras, lighting, sound equipment can cost a fortune. How many of you have $10,000 or more sitting around to spend on all these tools? And even if you did, would you know how to use them properly? These two questions alone stifle movement and creativity.
What to do.
So my suggestion is to forget about the fancy stuff, and figure out what you have. Most of us have a video camera on our phones. If you do not have the money to buy or rent filmmaking equipment, use the phone, and start experimenting! Learn to tell stories with shots and images. Download an easy to use editing app and start playing with putting things together. As you start experimenting, you will learn things about yourself, and will grow your pallet of knowledge. From there you can build upon this process and upgrade your independent filmmaking career.
Small now. Bigger later.
Starting small does not mean you have to stay small. Rather, starting small allows you to create motion. Motion is the only thing that is important in starting any business, or project. Without motion, you will never get off the ground.
I think of a commercial airplane taking off. A commercial airplane does not just lift off the ground and fly away. It starts rolling ever so slightly on the runway until it builds up enough speed to take off. If you think about your filmmaking career in that same fashion, it will give you a little bit of comfort knowing that where you stand now is just the beginning.
I hope this helps. My biggest goal with any of these blogs, is to give each of you a gentle nudge forward. Do not get caught up in all of the complications that our trade presents. Focus on what you can do now to create motion and movement. You can only do this by starting small.
Enjoy your week and keep making movies!