Being in post-production for over 20 years, many films have walked through my doors. Some with huge movie stars that go nowhere and others with no stars that win Sundance.
The question is do you really need a movie star in your independent film to be able to sell it? The answer is yes…and no. I lay out specifics on when and if you need star power in your film and I discuss what the new definition of star power is today.
The times they are a-changing my indie film hustlers and if you don’t change with them you’ll be left behind. Take a listen and let me know what you thin in the comments below.
Alex Ferrari 0:00
So my hustlers today, the question on the table is, do I need a movie star in my film, to make money or to have a successful film? Now I got that question from a indie film, hustler tribe member His name is Robert. And the question really is a little bit of a double edged sword because yes and no, the quite the answer to the question is yes and no. So this is the way it works with bringing named talent into a feature film, or to a project, a feature project, or short project or whatever kind of projects you're doing. There are just endless lists of movies that had no stars in it. That made a ton of money. And people like, Look, you don't need a star to make a movie to make a movie successful and to make money with it. And yes, if the story is amazing, and you get a lot of festival credibility, and you get a bunch of people behind you, and it's something really, really cool, then yes, you don't need a movie star to make it happen. Now, it's also depending on genre, if you're if you're doing a horror movie, talent, debt is not absolutely necessary, the genre is selling itself. Same thing with action, though action does benefit from a star too. But action is a genre that travels very, very well. internationally. So it doesn't need a star. But a star definitely helps. Hoare is definitely a genre that doesn't need star power. But anytime you can bring star power on, it's beneficial. And I'll explain why. If you bring a star on any type of star, and I'm not talking about big, big monster stars that you can't afford for your movie, but even if it's a television star, a comedian, a, you know, a character actor who has been in a ton of stuff, but they're not like movie star material. They're just good actors with really with, you know, resumes of working on big movies, these is always a beneficial thing. Anytime you can put faces in the camera that people can recognize, it's a beneficial thing. Why? Because when you do that, you're leveraging their popularity, their recognizability to your film. So let's just put it this way. There's a movie that I worked on a few years ago, that was a little sci fi action movie. And originally, they had no stars in it whatsoever. None. And they went they we did it, we edited it, we posted it, everything was done. They went out to the marketplace and tried to sell it. And guess what happened? Nothing. No one bought it. Nobody was interested at all. So what the producers did, very, very smartly. They went out, they hired a couple of actors, name actors that brought some money with them meaning money, meaning that if they were in the movie, they could sell the movie, shot a day or two of them replaced some old of some of the other actors with some of these key scenes, added these actors in and all of a sudden, guess what happened magically they sold their movie. So it does benefit having an act I mean, having a name actor or some sort of movie star or face that people recognize. So and believe it or not, guys, you know, getting some of these movie stars out there to come in for your movie. It's not that expensive. You know, I'm not going to quote quotes because I do know some quotes for some of the some of the stars, but I don't want to say them publicly. But if you'd be surprised if you approach certain actors that that want to do work, they just want to work and they're actors who have names and have credibility and help with distribution. You'd be surprised at how affordable some of these actors are. So if you have have a movie and you feel that you need to get an actor or want to get an actor Go for it, just ask them you know, obviously if they're big movie stars, making million $2 million, a movie, you know, and it's your first feature film, probably not going to happen, guys. But don't be embarrassed. Don't be afraid to just approach people to see if they're interested in working with you in your story. Now, obviously a lot of times actors big movie stars like to work with independent filmmakers. To be able to play more to express themselves more as actors not to be confined so much by the studio system, and they'll come on board and work for scale sometimes or very affordably just to be, you know, if they are if they feel that this project, or the material is something that they really gravitate to, and they can really do something with. So you've never know who you're going to be able to get in your movies, I've heard crazy stories of people who will come on the show, and they'll just work for either scale free, or very minimal money, just to be a part of the project. So that does happen, guys. Now, on the other end of the spectrum, do you need a movie star to make a movie to make a successful movie? Absolutely not. It helps dramatically. Don't get me wrong, anytime. Like I said, you put someone in front of the screen that people recognize and distributors recognize is a good thing. But if you're making a movie for $5,000. And believe it or not, there are a lot of movies being made for 510 15 2025 $30,000. a feature film that is non genre based, let's say it's a drama, or a comedy or drama, or a little indie film that has that kind of personal touch to it. No, you don't absolutely need a big star or movie star in that movie. But the thing is that the cost, the budget of that movie is low enough that if you've done your job, right, as a filmmaker slash entrepreneur and build up your audience, and you're able to sell it, and you have a selling a marketing plan, and a distribution plan, either self distribution, or traditional distribution, making your money back on a $30,000 movie is not impossible, if done correctly, no matter what the genre is, as long as you can have an audience that they sell it to and know how to reach that audience. Yes, absolutely, you do not need an actor there. Now, if the budgets are going to 100,000 200,000, half a million, there's a lot more responsibility on you as a filmmaker, and unless you're financing yourself and money is no object, and you do need to recoup that money for your investors, then you have to or definitely, I strongly suggest you put in actors who have some sort of guarantee, and they're kind of like an insurance policy for investors. investors were like, Look, I'm gonna let you make your movie, you could do whatever you want with your movie, you have Final Cut of your movie, but you know what? I've got final say on who you cast. Because depending on who you cast is, what kind of insurance policy I will have to get my money back as an investor. So if your movie completely sucks, but has a star b star C star in it, that have a following already to them, and they automatically get distribution because of who they are. Guess what the investor says, Well, at least I can get my money back if the movie sucks. So to review, do you need a movie star? It always helps Do you need actors, TV stars, someone that can help you get some credibility to your movie? always helps. It always helps. But do you absolutely need it? No, it all depends on the kind of movie you're trying to make, kind of return you're expecting to make and the budget of that film. So I hope that answered your question guys. And by the way, if you want to ask other questions, head over to indie film, hustle, calm Ford slash Facebook. And that will take you directly to our private Facebook group that we talk about everything and everything is a place where all the tribe members come to talk. So sign up. Now prove you guys indie film hustle.com for slash Facebook. And if you want the show notes for the show, head over to indie film, hustle, calm Ford slash zero 68 please don't forget to head over to filmmaking podcast calm and leave us an honest review of the show. It really helps us out a lot. So as always, keep that hustle going. Keep that dream alive. And I'll talk to you soon.
Sign up to receive email updates
Enter your name and email address below and I'll send you periodic updates about the podcast.
- 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