OK, so before I get bombarded with hate email please hear me out. I was speaking to my filmmaker inner circle the other day and the topic of format and camera came up. I’m a huge tech-head. I love gear as much as the next filmmaker.
Hell, you can’t make movies without gear. Advances in filmmaking technology have liberated a generation of storytellers, filmmakers, and content creators. Now does the audience give a CRAP about what camera you used to make your movie…NO!
If you want to know what it really takes to be a successful filmmaker in today’s world take a listen to this short podcast.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
So guys Today's episode is a one that might cause a little bit of controversy but you know what something I was talking to a few of my buddies about the other day and I was like you know what I got to talk about this because you know I fell into this trap as well early on in my career. You know, a lot of people get so caught up in what they shoot their movie on like I shot this on the red epic I shot this on the weapon I shot this on the Alexa I shot this, you know, you go all the way up to the top level of the highest end cameras and then you go all the way to the bottom. So like I shot this on my iPhone, I shot this on VHS, I shot this on whatever. And that might have worked 10 to 12 years ago, 15 years ago, like when I did my film broken, I shot it on mini DV at the time mini DV tape. At the time, there wasn't a lot of movies being shot on mini DV but I remember there was another movie with Katie Holmes called pieces of April that was shot on the Canon XL as well as 28 days Danny Boyle shot it on the Canon x Oh again mini the mini DV tape. And that was kind of a marketing thing back then. You know now currently with tangerine that was shot on the iPhone. That's a little bit of a marketing campaign, a little bit of a marketing thing too. But at the end of the day, guys, no one gives a crap the reason why people care about tangerine is because it's a good movie that people care about it. It's a good story. People don't care about what you shot on. It's not it's not impressive anymore. You know before it was like I shot this on 35 millimeter and that was a big deal. But nowadays no one cares if you shoot this on the weapon or the epic of the shot 7k or 5k or any of that crap it's all fluff it's all bs it's about story guys. It's all about story. So please stop. You know marketing your film by using like, I shot this on the red epic I shot this 5k I shot this on the Alexa or I shot this on an iPhone or I shot this on a VHS tape or anything like that. You know what, at the end of the day, that's all nice and dandy, but has to be a good movie. No one really cared about, you know, it's like the olden days. Like when Robert Rodriguez came out with El Mariachi, a $7,000 feature film, he was the first guy to do that he was the first guy to come out and said he made a movie for $7,000 By the way, I'm gonna want to talk a second about that $7,000 the movie you and I saw on DVD or in the theater or Blu Ray, that movie does not cost $7,000 that movie cost probably about 1.5 to $2 million when they had to redo everything. So that's something else. It's called marketing for a reason they'd like Oh, it was made for $7,000 Yeah, he made it for $7,000. But the version we saw was not the $7,000 version. It was a 1.1 million or 1.5 million or however much they spent but I know they spent over a million dollars on it because they had to redo the audio tracks completely that to remaster everything because he shot it all on on 16 millimeter film had to transfer to three quarter inch tape. For any of you guys who don't know what three quarter inch tape is Google it. It is an old technology, very old technology. And he edited tape to tape back in the day. There's no way in hell that that master tape that he made for $7,000 was transferred onto a film onto a film stock and then projected in theaters. Transfer DVDs and all the other formats that they eventually transferred on. So back in the day you could say like I made this movie for $7,000 and I did it with broken I marketed as a movie that I made for $8,000 and it was very impressive back then you know with 100 100, visual effects shots and so on and so forth. today's world is not that world anymore guys it's not something that anyone cares about. No one cares that you made this movie for five bucks because there aren't being their movies being made for five bucks every day 10 bucks every day you know so you're either going to be the cheapest movie ever made which now everyone can make the cheapest movie ever made because anyone could just grab an iPhone and go make a movie. Or your the most expensive movie ever made you know 100 million $200 million $300 million. So guys, no one cares what format you shot on. No one cares what your budget is. No one cares how much struggle you went through or that you jumped off a window to get this shot or not. No one cares. No one cares about the struggles it took you to get to where you are in making your movie that only goes so far. If the movie sucks no one cares you know they only start caring if the movies really really good. And then it just adds to the the the flavor if you will of the movie and the whole story behind it. Like the Reverend the Reverend story. You know, it was such a huge moment that I mean a lot of people say that the making of the movie is more interesting than the movie itself. I would argue to say yes, I agree with that. But the only reason people even cared about all this craziness is because the movie was good. Same thing with Apocalypse Now took three years to frickin make that he almost and Francis Robocop almost shot himself. People only care about that because it's good. You know, what was also a horrible experience to make a movie Heaven's Gate. If you guys ever have ever seen a movie called Heaven's gates, one of the worst bombs of all time, no one cares how hard is that that movie was to make because it wasn't it didn't do well no one cared, it's not that great of a film. That's why people don't care about it. You know what they care about? They want a good story they want to see if you can tell a good story they want to see if you have not only can you tell a good story, which I think is the most important thing production quality can go away you know audio try to keep audios as best you can guys but visual quality can go away as long as you've got a good story if you got a good story that is compelling and people can you can see the people on the screen and you can hear them clearly. And it's not like super polished or super anything that's what people want man that's what people really are attracted to. They want good stories we have such a lack of good storytellers out there now all we have is people just you know so obsessed with the pixels and the cameras and all these other things that they try to throw so many smoke and mirrors up and believe me I know about smoke and mirrors because I've done it with a lot of my projects you know you create smoke and mirrors but at the end of the day it has to be story has to touch somebody in one way shape or form. And that's what's the most important thing guys, so you know, I have nothing against gear I have nothing against, you know, analyzing your tools and seeing which tool works best for you. But don't obsess about it. Just worry about story. You know, I just discovered and I just did an article about this director who has blown my mind and his name is Joe Swanberg. Swanberg, Joe Swanberg has made over 20 feature films in 10 years and one year he made six feature films, all very low budget. He comes from the mumble core movement. If you don't know what the mumble core movement is, of independent film, definitely just Google and you'll understand what it is. You know, they started basically him and Mark duplass and all those guys, they started making movies back in the early 2000s. With no money literally like 50 bucks. 100 bucks. They just grabbed the camera, whichever camera they had, and they went shot a movie with their friends. Audio sucked visual sucked, but they took it they told good stories. You know, Mark duplessis movie the puffy chair was a big huge mumble core fan Lena Dunham from girls HBO girl started out this way. They just want to grab the camera and start telling stories. And Joe Swanberg I just started getting into his work and I've been blown away by how he's been able to do what he does. And if you guys have not checked out the article I wrote I'm going to put a link of it in the show notes at indie film hustle.com forward slash zero 64 I'll put a link up Joe, the the keynote dress that Joe did at this year's South by Southwest and he breaks down everything about his how much money he makes, both the financials are about his movies, how he makes those movies for five grand or 10 grand or 20 grand or so on, you know, and he just finished making a movie his biggest movie ever which was half a million and then he went straight back down after half a million he did another movie for like 50 grand with Anna Kendrick, Olivia while jack London and Ron Livingston called drinking buddies. And you know I've just been blown away has how prolific he has been. And he's basically the the embodiment What this whole podcast is about, go out and tell a story that's important to you, that you feel like you really can do something with, okay? Don't allow technology to get in your way. Don't allow other people to give you permission to go make a movie, you can do this on your own, you can grab a camera, you can grab your iPhone, just make sure you work on that story, you make sure that you work on something that is important to you. And that you can tell well, and that's going to be more important than any camera you use. because trust me, I've worked on a lot of projects in my life, and through my post production company, and I've had things shot 5k 6k 4k on the biggest, you know, biggest budgets ever. And a lot of times they suck, I'm sorry to tell you and some of the most humble movies I've worked on because of budget shot on the DSLR shot on a seven D shot on a small camera, even an iPhone have blown me away because of the passion, the love the the energy behind the story that they're trying to tell the belief of what they're trying to do. So that's where you guys have to be alright, don't get caught up with the gear gear is great. We love gear. Without gear, we can't make our movies. And obviously the bigger the camera the more fun you can gather with it, the better the images great, but just learn how to tell a story. And I'm going to just end this podcast with a great quote by the amazing john Cassavetes film is to me, just unimportant. People are very important. So don't forget that guys, when you're making your movies, it's not about the gear. It's not about the format. It's not about how much you spent it's not about the struggle you go through. We all go through struggles to make our projects we all go through struggles to make our art to make our films no one cares about that. They only care about one thing can you tell a story. Now guys i hope i wasn't too rough with you on on this episode. But I really care about what you guys are doing out there. And if I can inspire you to tell better stories in one way shape or form that's why I'm here that's what we're trying to do at any film hustle to help you guys out so good luck with all your projects keep going for and right. Again if you want to get those links to Joe Swanberg keynote, which is a must listen to as well as the mark do plus keynote about how to make a movie for 1000 bucks. I'm gonna put both links in the show description in the show notes at indie film, hustle calm for slash zero 64. And as always, guys, please head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us a great review for the podcast. It really helps us out a lot. And I really want to get the word out on indie film hustle, and what we're trying to do help as many filmmakers out as possible so and share guys share everything we post as much as you can. If you like what we're doing, please share it and on your social media. Email, however, get the word out on what we're trying to do guys, because we're really trying to help as many people, as many filmmakers as we can. So thanks again. As always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.
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- How to Make a Feature Film for a $1000 with Mark Duplass
- How to Shoot and Sell SIX Features in a Year with Joe Swanberg
- How to Build an Indie Film Empire with Robert Rodriguez