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22 Ways You Know You’re an Independent Filmmaker


*This blog originally appeared on Film Independent. 

Runoff is Kimberly Levin’s narrative feature debut, which opened theatrically in New York City this summer and has so far played sixteen engagements across the U.S. and is now available on demand. RogerEbert’s Matt Zoller Seitz compared it “to the first time I saw ’Stormy Monday,’ ‘Blood Simple,’ ’Sex, Lies and Videotape’ and ‘She’s Gotta Have It.’” Zoller Seitz said, “If you want to say you were there when a great American’s filmmaker’s career kicked off, you need to see Runoff.”

Based on the success of the film, we asked Levin for her thoughts on the making of Runoff and she came back with what she called “a semi-confessional list.”

You know you’re an independent filmmaker when…

  1. Your edit bay is three feet from your bed.
  1. Your partner is jealous of your relationship with Alexa.
  1. You thought honeywagon was a type of breakfast cereal.
  1. Uncle Lester keeps asking, “When are you going to cut the crap and get your real-estate license?”
  1. Your location and your accommodations are the same place.
  1. You are related to five or more people in the credits of your film.
  1. Your Port-a-potty is a bush.
  1. Everyone on the crew is a multi-hyphenate: Writer-Director-Editor; Boom Operator-HMU-Dialect Coach; First AD-Costume Assistant-Bong Wrangler.
  1. If your hours were billable, you wouldn’t be running your dentist’s Facebook page.
  1. Prop food = craft services, one hour later.
  1. Your ADR booth is your neighbor’s closet.
  1. You can’t afford source cues, so you pay buskers in beer to record a few songs you wrote.
  1. You are running a second crowdfunding campaign for the same film.
  1. Your second crowdfunding campaign is much more elaborate than your first, with a donkey, a French Polynesian and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
  1. Your idea of a short day is 16 hours.
  1. Your idea of a long shoot is 20 days.
  1. The festival circuit brings back popularity anxieties from high school.
  1. You hear they’re going to give you a gross corridor and your first thought is, “Will it involve surgery?”
  1. When someone says you look like you could use some rest, you mutter, “I’ll sleep when I’m rendering.”
  1. Your card isn’t platinum, it’s 18% gray.
  1. When Uncle Lester finally sees your film, he says, “Oh my gawd, it’s like a real movie!”
  1. You realize that you may never experience this level of creative freedom again.

“Runoff” is available on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, other VOD platforms and DVD. For theatrical screenings and viewing options visit

by Kimberly Levin / Filmmaker & Guest Blogger

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Kimberly Levin

About Kimberly Levin

KIMBERLY LEVIN is a filmmaker and former biochemist. Her narrative feature Runoff was lauded as “Riveting…Inexorably powerful” (Variety), “Tense, moody…an Impressive directorial debut” (The New York Times), and “As an experience, it’s amazing.” ( Levin is also an award-winning playwright and director who has worked On and Off Broadway. She has developed projects with Johnny Depp’s Infinitum Nihil, The Weinstein Company and Tribeca Films. Currently, Levin is one of twenty directors selected for Fox Studio’s Global Directors Initiative. She is also an Independent Filmmaker Project (IFP) fellow and a USinProgress fellow. Her original scientific research on small peptide chains known as phytochelatins is published in a widely used chemistry textbook.