1. Find your tribe.
The most important element of making an indie film is the team behind the project. Everyone is building their team for the future, so either find a team you want to collaborate and rise with, or find people to build your team. We have our core group that we will work with forever, as long as they continue to want to work with us. We are not just a filmmaking team; we are a family. And take care of your crew, first rule of indie filmmaking, treat everyone with respect and kindness. Trust me, it goes a long, long way!
2. Write a screenplay around what you have, they say write what you know, well I say write what locations you have access to.
My entire first feature was written completely around the house and surrounding areas that were offered to us to make a movie in. My husband and I went out to the location and took pictures of every nook and cranny; we then brought the pictures back to our screenplay writer, and he wrote scenes according to what we had. Location is one of the biggest hurdles when shooting a film, so find a great place that you have access to, and then write a story around it.
3. Make a film that is sellable.
You might have a passion project that matters to you, but this industry is a business and highly competitive, and there is a good chance no one cares about your passion project. Investors want to make money, distribution companies want to make money, and sales reps want to make money. See a pattern here? Yep! Everyone wants to make money, so if your film isn’t marketable there is a good chance no one will give you money to make it, and no one will buy it to distribute it. Find out what is selling in the marketplace before jumping into making a film.
4. For your first feature film, make it for a small budget.
Don’t put yourself in a position where you won’t be able to re-coup your investment. The marketplace is changing, and distribution companies are not paying much up front for films these days, if they even pay anything up front at all. Make your first feature for as cheap as possible and, honestly be willing to lose the money. You might never see that money again, so don’t spend anything you’re not willing to lose.
5. Cast actors who you know will be supportive on and off the set.
When making an indie film, everyone needs to be helpful on set, cause chances are you will have very few crewmembers, and will need every helping hand possible. Have an open dialogue with your actors before casting them, so they understand the expectations, and want to be a part of the whole process of filming. Also cast actors who have strong social media presence, and people you know will help promote the film when it releases. TRUST ME, you will need all the help you can get when the time comes to market your film, and it is extremely important that your whole team is spreading the word, and sharing the news.
I hope these tips where helpful to you, as you embark on your awesome adventure into the world of independent filmmaking. Good luck, and just do it!