Last week, I shared my top filmmaking reads from the week before with some emphasis on Selma and the Oscars. This week, I decided to focus on some simple, but important, tips for filmmakers.
I often find little gems to read on Medium and last week as I read Fred Venturini’s “5 Awesome Nuggets of Writing Advice,” I realized his writing advice translated well to filmmakers. So, I tweaked his tips a bit to create these 5 Filmmaking Tips for Indie Filmmakers.
- Just Make Your Film! (aka Just Write) — Most filmmakers have a film that they hope no one ever sees. This may not be the case for you, but this is certainly the case for me. Writers write things they hope no one ever sees and often filmmakers create film projects, early on, that they’d really like to not visit again. My first feature was pretty awful — I was in over my head and didn’t really know what I was doing. But, in the process, I learned a lot about filmmaking, about what I was good at regarding films and what I was not so good at. That feature was the equivalent of film school for me and though I’d rather not have anyone see it, I also wouldn’t take that experience back as it was an invaluable learning experience. That being said, writing something you never expect anyone to read doesn’t cost a thing, filming something does, so, don’t “bet the farm” on that first film, unless you REALLY think you know what you’re doing and have a good team lined up. If that first film is a learning experience, make sure you don’t ruin your credit and lose your house in the process).
- Learn to Edit — For writers, I definitely get how knowing to edit would be beneficial, and I think it is equally beneficial for filmmakers. Let me be clear, I’m not saying you should actually always edit all of your own films. If you’re a good editor and enjoy editing, then go ahead and edit your films yourself. If not, by all means, hire an editor. Even if you are not an editor, it’s good to know a bit about editing — learn the basics. This will make you a better director, producer, cinematographer, etc. and will allow to communicate with your editor more clearly. Initially I focused a lot on editing with our films. Now, I primarily develop projects and produce them, but that editing experience has made me a much better producer.
- Get More Done With Less — When Venturini talks about doing more with less, he’s speaking about effective writing: don’t say something in 12 words that you can say in 4-6 impactful words. I’d say that similar advice is good for filmmakers. Make sure everything in your film is moving the story forward. If it’s not, then really consider if you need it. Tell your story, tell it well, and be wary of overindulgence.
- If someone (who is NOT your friend), pays money to watch your film (read your work), you’ve got some talent. I’ll add that if they pay money to watch it and like it and tell others to watch it, then you might really have talent. If that is happening, then be encouraged by your fans. Connect with them. Build relationships with them. Get to know them. Building a relationship with your audience is critical for sustainability as an independent artist. The first step is to figure out who your audience is and then to go find them. Here’s a piece I wrote for Loud Green Bird about Building An Audience Before the Camera Rolls (if you wait until you’ve got the film in the can, you’re too late!)
- FINISH SOMETHING!! — Enough said. “Stop Talking About Your Film and Make It!”
I’d love to hear your best filmmaking tips or just one great thing you learned on your last film project. So, hit me up on twitter at @IndieJenFischer and hashtag #Filmmaking #BestTips.