IFH 163

IFH 163: Why Indie Filmmakers Need to Break the Rules


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In this episode, I discuss breaking the rules. why it is important to your career as an indie filmmaker and how it can make you stand out from the crowd.

I share examples of rule-breakers throughout Hollywood history and the impact it had on their careers. So get ready to break some mutha f’**kin rules!

Also, I have some HUGE news. This is Meg is now available for pre-order on iTunes at an early bird discount $9.99. Just go to www.thisismeg.com/itunesI have a ton of content coming on how we are releasing the film so stay tuned.

Alex Ferrari 0:05
So let's jump right into the episode today, guys. So I feel like there was a virus out there in the world, I think there's a virus that is affecting a lot of filmmakers in the business right now. And it's a virus that film schools put out there film gurus put out there. You know, even some film books put out there on how you have to make your movie that you have to go through a, b and c and d to get it and how to tell your story and how to shoot your movie and how to make sure you get this image or that image. But I think that's the problem. I think that there is a kind of horrible epidemic facing films in today's world, which are passable films, safe films, films that don't push the envelope whatsoever. Very rarely do you see anything out of Hollywood push the envelope, only the biggest, baddest directors that have some sort of pole that can kind of do it within the system and still make some sort of creative movement forward. But most of the stuff coming out of Hollywood is safe because it's a business. And that's what they want to do. They want to make safe movies that they're going to make some money. It's not going to offend too many people, and it's going to get asses in seats and make their money. And they don't they're not interested in breaking the rules, not like they did in the 70s in the 80s when they had no other choice to do it. So it's fallen on the independent filmmaker to pick the medium for to push things forward and get to that place. I mean when you see films with balls in them, you're blown away movies like Birdman, Requiem for a Dream amento a modus bedros traffic ghost dog tangerine, there, you know, the these are just some many movies that have balls, and they go out there and break those rules and do things their own way. But that's how you move the medium forward. That's how you set yourself apart from everybody else. And you have to kind of do that in order to kind of poke your head out of the crowd and stand apart from everybody else who's doing the same thing you're doing. And, you know, when I went out to make this as Megan, by the way, this is Meg is not a movie that has a tremendous like, I'm breaking all the rules in the way I told the story, at least from my opinion, it's not, I do believe that the way we made our movie was breaking the rules. And that's how we were able to make our movie. But when I would tell, you know, industry professionals and industry colleagues of mine, how I was going to go make the movie, they scoff, they laugh, they're like, how are you going to do it, they just couldn't grasp. They couldn't understand it, they couldn't understand the concept of going out with a scriptment and shooting a movie, it was like it was complete. It was wonderful to actually watch their faces, because their faces would just turn blank. They're like, but how can you do that? They couldn't comprehend the the equation of how to make a movie for such a low budget, I'll move you have any sort of quality at all, and it was mind blowing, I'm sure I'm assuming this is what Mark duplass had to go through. When he was going, the duplass brothers were doing when they were making their movies in the web, they still make their movies and they still make their shows in this kind of way. For me, this is made was more of a an experiment on how I can make a movie. And if I could make it if I can be the DP on it, if I can shoot it, if I can make you know, all this kind of stuff. And that was my my personal experiment to see what I can output what I can do, can I actually do it? And I think I was able to do something and I'll leave it up to you guys. When you go to the iTunes and hopefully, watch it that you'll let me know what you think of it, you know, but you watch a movie like Chungking Express, you know, you know Christopher Boyle, the DP of that and of course the legendary one car Why? what they did with that movie broke every single rule. You can imagine the way they cut the movie, the way they shot the movie, how quickly they shot the movie, what they were doing. You know, the story about how Chungking Express was made is that one car why was in the middle of doing this monster period, historical epic. And it was just taking forever to go through post and he just seemed to have lost his his vigor for the movies. He's like, you know what, I'm just gonna go out and make this little movie in the middle of post, so I can come back with a fresh, fresh energy. It's exactly what he did. He went out shot this movie in, I don't know, a few weeks. I don't know exactly what the production schedule was. But he shot it fairly quickly. did not have a script, when he went out shot, it was just kind of like, hey, let's go out make something. And he put together this amazing piece of art that Quinn Tarantino was, it says one of his favorite films of all time. And when you watch it, you'll understand why I mean, they break all the rules, like they use wide angle lenses in close up. So it distorts the the actors faces and they don't care. They just kind of move forward and start doing things. And that's what you have to do. You've got to make your films stand out in one way shape or form, either through the narrative through visuals, they mean visually, I think is probably going to be the easier way of trying to make something stand out. To try to change the narrative like a pulp fiction did is very difficult to do. That's why we haven't seen many more guys like Glentoran to pop up in the last 20 years. They're very rare. But visually, you can do stuff that's interesting. And you have to learn as much as you can about that aspect of the craft. Learn your lenses, learn your cameras, learn what you can do with your tools, what you can do with lights, what you can shoot, how you can shoot, once you understand three point lighting, then you can break that, that that paradigm that rule, just so you understand back in the day, hollywood when they would light a scene. It was perfect. The actors were all looking perfect back in the 40s. In the 50s. In the 30 the Golden Age of Hollywood. Everybody looked gorgeous, but it looks so unreal, it looked so non realistic, that like Well, where's that light coming from that makes her look so beautiful. There was no motivation. And slowly during the 60s, specifically the 60s in the 70s, cinematographers and directors started to change that changed that dynamic. They started breaking the rules. And then all of a sudden, all this new stuff started coming out all these new images pushing the medium forward. It happened again in the 90s. With the independent film, push when the technology got cheap enough that you gave it to independent films, movies like slacker El Mariachi reservoir, dogs, clerks, all of these movies, that kind of she's got to have it. These kind of movies that broke all sorts of rules. All the studio rules all the Hollywood rules, but man, they were making better movies, they were pushing the envelope. And that's what you guys have to do in one way, shape or form. When you make your movie, you've got to break those rules. And I'll give you an example of what I mean when, when right now. filmmakers in general, I think, and the industry in general is this height is it's almost like ridiculously obsessed with the resolution of film, the resolution of live and film, excuse me, the resolution of the sensor that the image 6k 7k 8k whatever K, we're getting to a point in the evolution of visual the visual medium that we're not going to get to a point where it stops growing. It happened in audio A long time ago, in audio, they you can't make audio sound any better. Technically, it's gone as far as it could now you could do is make it 517 110 one, whatever, you you know, you make it a little bit more immersive, but the quality of the actual audio file cannot be made any better no matter what you do. Okay, so with film it starting with with the film with digital is starting to get to that point, you know, at a certain point 8k 10k 15k at a certain point, the resolution is going to get higher than our I are I only get so much resolution, and it's starting to get to that point. I feel that a lot of cameras, digital cameras and lenses are all too antiseptic to clean, to perfect. This is the problem that happened with HD when it first came out. You see every thing you see all of the pores on the actors and all of this kind of stuff, and it's not really pleasant to watch. The reason why we love film so much is that it the way it covers the the edges. It's soft, yet sharp. It is something very magical. And there are cinema there are some digital cameras that can replicate that the Alexa, the Blackmagic Ursa Mini, I really like I even like the pocket camera, shooting that super 16 Digital RAW file, you know, it gives that gives your film a little different look than everybody else. if everyone's shooting on a red epic or a red dragon or whatever, when weapon or whatever the next red is, or the highest cannon there is out there. Wouldn't it be better to make your film stand out by shooting with a format that looks a little bit different? or using lenses that are a little bit different? And I'll give you an example. Someone like Stanley Kubrick, who everybody who listens to this show knows I am a huge fan of Mr. Kubrick. He was one of the most detail orientated, obsessive directors in the history of cinema. But yet, if you watch some of his movies, watch all of his movies. He is not as concerned with a perfect image. But he's more concerned with an interesting image. And that is a huge lesson for everyone listening to understand. If you watch a scene in Clockwork Orange, the scene right before and spoiler alert right before the rape scene at towards the beginning of the movie. There's this pan inside that they bring the doorbell and then they go inside and you see the guy typing on his on his typewriter. And then it dollies across and then a woman's reading a book and it's just one wide shot and it's just a dolly across and then she gets up and goes. Now that take was shot with a lens that is 9.8 millimeters is a synoptic lens. It is one of the widest lenses you can buy think to this day the widest lens you can buy without fisheye. So it is an extremely interesting image to get. But if you notice the corners are soft. Now that's sacrilege for cinematographers, you don't want soft corners. That's not right, you need to have a sharp, sharp, sharp image. But Kubrick didn't care because it was more interesting. At the very last shot where Robin McDowell is sitting in bed and all the photographers come in, they use the same lens, soft corners, but the image looks interesting. He does that throughout Clockwork Orange, he does it throughout the shining. He does it through a full metal jacket and also eyes wide shot and many of his other movies. He wasn't interested as much as a perfect image as an interesting image that served the story. And that's what I think all of you guys should do. When everyone's telling you you should have a perfect image the highest resolution possible future proof your movies all this kind of stuff, which is all wonderful and great. And believe me if I could shoot 4k all the time I could shoot the Alexa 4k all the time, or the Ursa mini all the time. I would and I do with the Ursa Mini, but but if I could shoot with the Alexa, I would, but there are options for you to, to shoot differently within the cost prohibitive world that we live in as independent filmmakers. So now I've been talking a lot about breaking the rules and taking risks and all this kind of stuff. Well, there is a trade off, guys. If you've got, if you're an independent filmmaker, and you got a quarter of a million dollars, you might be able to take some risks, but you can go all out, because you're risking it's called a risk for a reason. If you're a filmmaker in the studio system, and you want to take a risk, knock yourself out, if you're working with someone else's money, and they're willing to go along with that ride for with you, great. But as independent filmmakers, the more risks you take, the lower the budget should be. Because that's the only way you're going to be able to take those risks comfortably. That's the only way that no one's going to try to stop you from taking those risks. So when I made mag, I did it for a very reasonable budget. My next two movies are going to be very reasonable budgets, things that I'm going to experiment with. And I'll talk more about my next couple features coming up in the in the coming weeks. But I'm going to be taking fairly large risks. Why? Because I want to experiment. I want to push myself, you know why? If you're an artist, why can't you experiment, that's the only way you grow. If you fail, you grow, that's just the way it is. And it takes balls to do that. You can't be afraid of what other people say, you just got to go out there and do it. If I was afraid of everything that everyone's gonna say about Meg, once it gets released, about the story about the way I directed it, the way it was lit, the way the actors worked. If I was afraid of all of that I would never have gotten off the ground, I've got to kind of just go out and do it, and do me and make my movies. And that's what I'm telling you guys should do as well go out and do it. In order to stand out you have to take those risks, as is wonderful, quote, wonderfully states break the rules more often. And you'll gain a huge advantage over those who are afraid to risk at all. I hope this episode gave you some sort of inspiration to go out there and take some risks to learn to grow as an artist. And just do stuff as much as you can and break those rules. But be smart about it guys, don't mortgage your house, and then go out and make an experimental movie. Don't do that. You know, make a movie for a couple grand, make a movie for 510 grand, something that hopefully you can afford whatever that money is that you can afford to lose if you want to go out and experiment but go and experiment. And that is the key to growing as an artist and as a filmmaker and that's what will set you apart from your contemporaries. Now please don't forget to head over to this is mag comm forward slash iTunes. It's early bird special 999 the sea This is mag which will be released August 4. And on the next episode, we are going to go into a deep deep dive into vintage lenses, which has become my new obsession. And my collection has now grown a vintage lenses to probably around 50 up over 50 lenses at this point. And I'll go into great detail about what I'm doing with all these lenses what I'm doing the experiments, the reviews that are coming, things I'm going to be doing and why I'm doing them. But I have an amazing guest coming in next on the next episode that is going to break down why you should be buying vintage lenses. Why you should be using vintage lenses and how you can get a set of amazing primes for 500 bucks. Yeah, I know it sounds amazing, but I'll go into it on the next episode. And as always, if you want to get any of the things we talked about in this episode, head over to indie film hustle.com forward slash 163. For all the show notes, I'm gonna put links to all the movies I talked about. So if you guys are interested in watching them, they will be there. So keep that hustle going keep that dream alive and I'll talk to you soon.



  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B004O724NG” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]A Clockwork Orange[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00RO49JEI” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Birdman[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00005JG6U” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Requiem for a Dream[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B004FHCH96″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Memento[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00KMBAVY2″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Amores Perros[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B0027WGWQ0″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Traffic[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B007K8C274″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Ghost Dog[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B017I2471U” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Tangerine[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B0048LVDHG” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]El Mariachi[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B004SIP6N6″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Clerks[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B000XJD34S” locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]She’s Gotta Have It[/easyazon_link]
  • [easyazon_link identifier=”B00DHN8GL2″ locale=”US” tag=”whatisbroke-20″]Slacker[/easyazon_link]


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  3. Rev.com – $1.25 Closed Captions for Indie Filmmakers – Rev ($10 Off Your First Order)

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