20 Apr, 2015

Ten Important things every first time Independent Filmmaker should keep in mind

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independent filmmaker

The title “Independent Filmmaker” really sounds tempting, inspirational and makes you to stand out (or even above) the other general set of masses doing other things. Perhaps, the similar sort of emotion goes around with photography, but it can get tough to gather support for what you love to do or you want to do as a profession. I certainly cannot speak for all those filmmaking and photography enthusiasts who live outside India (I assume the situation to be accepted for what you want to do is on the good side), but for those living in India and its neighboring countries, it can get real tough with all the expectations around.

Anyhow, getting straight to the point; if movies, short films, documentaries, videos, cameras, audio, direction, scripts, stories, music and almost anything involved with filmmaking makes you go crazy and if you see yourself as the next independent filmmaker(or a video maker) then there are some important points to remember. The road to being called a filmmaker, an independent filmmaker is tough and these 10 things could really help you out. I have been learning filmmaking all by myself and working on my first ever short and these points have helped me a lot.

#1 Be Clear Headed

Of Course, being clear headed is the single best thing you require to actually start out your journey.  You need to ask yourself why you want to be a filmmaker and when you have a satisfying answer you can continue. Focusing on one goal at a time is half the job.

#2 What is it that Inspires you?

Filmmaking is vast. The Film industries all around the world have survived are surviving and will flourish in the future because there are people who are masters at their work. So, always remember that filmmaking includes writing, music, direction, production, sorting, editing, research, audio, gear and so much more. Look out for what you are good at and what really makes you happy.

#3 Independent doesn’t mean doing everything yourself

This is the most misunderstood part of being a first time independent filmmaker. Often times, inspired youngsters walk this path and plan to do everything on their own. Yes, one can understand that you have a story, a vision, actors, finance and the equipment, but it still doesn’t mean that you can go around and complete your project alone. So, leave that thought behind and look out for inspired people from the community and form a team.

#4 Get yourself educated with the basics

Yes, there are legends that have survived and excelled in the industry with little or no knowledge at all, but things have changed. The modern online world is the best place to learn the basics of filmmaking and being a filmmaker. You don’t need to join a film school, but if you have a chance you should. You can learn almost everything from the good old internet. Just search the YouTube or Vimeo or read stuff on relevant websites. You might want to check this link for the list of some cool websites an independent filmmaker should follow. If you happen to be living at the heart of your country’s film industry, you can even look out for internships and other entry level positions at film studios.

#5 Start with whatever you can do

Not everybody has the list of things to add to his/her portfolio before going big and it’s perfectly fine. Just start doing stuff you want to do, master that art. You’ll need to plan things, make videos of your family, celebrations, a local game, your travel and then move ahead. If you’ve already done that and are ready for the next level then work on commercials or showcase your stories with short films or take up a challenge of making a documentary and then move ahead to features if that is what eye. Remember, short films are awesome and there are thousands of film festivals that welcome short films. So, submitting your short to a festival and getting recognized can be a huge boost for your career and for your portfolio. Award winning shorts are always better than features that don’t feature anywhere.

#6  Your best friends, the filmmaking equipment

For an independent filmmaker, his/her equipment is the most valuable treasure, but that doesn’t mean you make your parents’ lives a living hell by asking for expensive cameras, gears, recorders and other accessories. Remember, for an independent filmmaker it is all about making the most of whatever he/she has and then moving ahead. So, if you have the vision and the motivation, a simple camcorder, a smartphone, an old used DSLR should work just fine and when you make the cut, you can always upgrade. Read about how to make a short film or a feature film using your smartphone.

#7 Make connections

Like I mentioned above, always surround yourself with likeminded people and never shy away from taking help. It is always good to make new connections, new relevant connections. Hang around with people with similar interests; follow people from the film industry. Use your social media accounts for your own good. Read what industry greats have to say and then implement whatever you learn.

#8 Watch and Learn

You certainly don’t need an explanation for this. Watch what the legends have been doing and learn. The more you watch, the more you enhance your skills.

#9 Money Money Money

You can simply get exhausted and lose all your motivation if all you care is about money. Yes, it’s THE biggest thing we all have on our minds, but for an independent filmmaker, the budget shouldn’t hinder the process. You can invest your own money, gather help from friends and family or even showcase your work online for crowdfunding. It can be tough, but isn’t impossible. Lastly, never focus too much on making money, because once your quality work does all the talking, the rewards knock on your door.

#10 Be Inspired, Be Motivated, Be Independent

Do I need to say more? Being inspired and motivated all the time is tough, but if you really care about the wok, you’ll definitely manage everything. Every independent filmmaker wants to make the cut and be associated with a top shot studio, which isn’t a bad thin



“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I'm still trying to figure out how that could be.” -Stephen Chbosky
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