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Why Your Indie Film Will Never See The Light Of Day.

So you got this amazing story that is dear to your heart you’ve been aching to tell on film. You got a few bucks together, grab a few friends and it’s off to the races, bringing your dreams to life. Making a film is ridiculously fun, there’s nothing quite like it. Who wouldn’t want to do it? So if you are a first time film maker you get a pass, this time.

Most vanity projects never get completed, at least not in any satisfying fashion. Why? I’m generalizing here, so let me explain with a numbered list, because that will give it more perceived weight.

  1. You are crazy. Don’t take that personally, and you won’t because crazy people never think they are crazy. But many people involved in indie film literally have personality disorders. I’m not kidding. Compare the classifications in the DSM-IV-TR (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) against the traits of some of the nut jobs you come across and you’ll see what I mean.  When someone is laboring under a disorder they can make poor decisions, act irrationally, engage in delusional thinking or even sabotage their own project. It’s not a pretty sight. This one can’t be helped. Let’s assume you are sane. Moving on.
  2. You don’t realize how much work and resources go into making even the shortest of films. I’m not being condescending here. What I’m saying is making any film is a huge undertaking. And an expensive one. If you don’t do your homework and nail down a realistic budget your project will be stalled. Think of it like a guy who goes to home depot and buys a bit of lumber and some nails and thinks he can build a whole house with it. Making a film can be more work than building an entire house.
  3. You don’t know what post production is. That’s all the stuff that happens after you film your movie. There’s a lot of stuff, believe me. It will need to be edited, color corrected, synced, god knows what else. I don’t understand it myself. You’ll need a composer, titles, credits, maybe a foley artist, god forbid you need to ADR the thing. That’s where the actors have to come back and say their lines over the film because the audio was too poor. It’s a lot to deal with, and it’s expensive to have it done right.
  4. You have no idea how to distribute your film. Did you intend to show it to only your friends and immediate family? Well, fine, I can’t fault you there. But if you want to have it viewed by the general populace you will need to find a distributor who feels they can make a profit on your product. If you can figure that one out, will you please tell me how you did it? Think you can just dump it on youtube and it will go viral? Ha! Uh, I mean, that would be awesome.
  5. Your film is shite. There, I said it. It’s not that I don’t love you, I do. But your film is nothing anyone but your immediate friends and family will bear to sit through for five minutes without significant narcotics. Why is it so bad? Well, besides the trite story line, inconsistent performances, horrible editing and general inconsistency I would say, ah hell. Just take it and show it to a random stranger, don’t tell them what it is. Americans have the most refined sense of film of any people on earth. We grew up on film and instinctively know what is good and what rings false. See what a total stranger says about it. There’s your answer.

Ok, so that’s a little depressing. The good news is, the process of making a film is so fun you probably won’t care about the final product. Even if it’s not that great, fuck, you made a movie! How many people can say that? And if you’re the type of person who can learn from their experiences the next film you do will be better.

Stay tuned for my next blog: Indie film doesn’t have to suck!

2 Comments

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