5 Ways to Use Momentum to Make Your Second Indie Film
You’ve drained your bank account. Alienated your family and friends. Had highs and lows with film festival awards/rejections and love/hate fan and critic reviews. You’ve been diagnosed with all the symptoms of indie film fatigue. What do you do? Go to Disney?
NO!! Make another movie.
You’ve spent 5+ years building momentum, making connections with film festivals, distributors and other film makers. Now use it to your advantage.
Write your next script.
After cutting 20 pages of dialog and the zombie invasion scene in Yankee stadium out of your first micro-budget feature, you’re more grounded in reality. You have to shoot what you write so make it powerful and doable. In indie film, less is more. Waaay more. Too tired to write when you get home from your day job? Write during lunch hour at work (or when you are supposed to be working). That way when you get home you will be writing from something you already started, and not starting from scratch.
You’ve made some connections and met other filmmakers of your low budget ilk. Why not share a vision, combine resources and leverage each other’s strengths? You both want to direct? Fine. Share a dual director credit. Call yourselves the “Indie Hustle Brothers”. Just agree on the final script and create a tight storyboard going in. And make sure your director agreement determines who has ultimate authority over the final cut. Lastly, make sure your personalities mesh. If you are an insecure introvert and the other guy is a narcissistic psychopath, you might as well put “Assistant Director” on your title card because you’ll be doing the hustling on the set, not directing the film.
Do Something Different.
Unless you made Paranormal Activity, if you made a low-budget horror for your first film try a different genre for your second one. It will show your range and test your mettle. Alex Ferrari is known for his high octane, action-packed shorts. But for his first feature he made a comedy called THIS IS MEG! On my feature BLESSID the director I chose was a blood and gore horror guy. We ended up making a slow-burn drama with a dark edge and poignant message. Sure, he discovered his inner wuss but he also showed his creative range and won his first award for Best Director. Dare to do different!
If that $125,000 indie blew through your 401(k), do something simpler. For my second feature I opted for an experimental documentary shot entirely in Massachusetts where I live. I am using a two-person crew, shooting for free at all my locations and interviewing real people instead of using actors. I also decided to film on weekends over the course of many months so that I could scrabble the funds together. This gave me time to assemble a work-in-progress rough cut and tweak it as I went. My only other main expenses will be an editor (I searched for a talented young editor willing to work for a modest daily rate and who could do color correction), an accomplished composer/sound/foley guy (also negotiating a fair but indie-friendly rate), key art and marketing. My first film I was stressed out. This one I am enjoying more.
Unless you absolutely hate being a filmmaker, keep the wheels turning toward your second project. In the new digital distribution world talented indie filmmakers can quietly get their films in front of a billion+ global audience, grow a fanbase, build residual income and leave a mini-legacy as people stream their work on multiple platforms for years to come. Go for it!
About the Author: Bob Heske is a multi-award-winning filmmaker, screenwriter, graphic novelist and indie comic creator. By day he churns out compliance marketing content for financial services; by night he is maniacal at his keyboard – creating characters and dramatic conflicts far more interesting than he is. Bob is currently working on an experimental documentary called Afraid of Nothing (you can help support it by clicking here). You can watch his first film BLESSID on Amazon Prime and Vimeo on Demand. Blessid is directed by Rob Fitz and stars Rachel Kerb and Rick Montgomery Jr.
If you liked 5 Ways to Use Momentum to Make Your Second Film take a listen to:
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