There are extremely talented potential filmmakers out there that never make a movie because they just can't bring themselves to take the leap of faith. Saying yes to making a movie starts with an attitude that regardless if your movie is entertaining or terrible at least you give it an honest go to see if you got the fire in you to make movies.
In the world of making of movies, especially at the indie film level, there are zero guarantees that every aspiring filmmaker that sets out to go from screenplay to distributed movie will make it to the end. Making movies is risky creatively and financially. Sometimes a movie falls apart during pre-production, filming or in post-production for lots of different reasons.
Making a movie to me is like gambling. You try your best as a filmmaker to tilt the odds in your favor as much as possible so you can win. Professional gamblers make educated bets and so should filmmakers. The one thing that successful gamblers and filmmakers need is the attitude that they are going to go all in on their movie making risk.
Saying yes to making a movie is really putting your ass out there creatively and financially. Many indie films are funded through family, friends, online movie crowd funding or your own cash. I'm still on the fence if it's harder to say yes to making a movie with money from family and friends and your own pocket or to deal with film investors.
Honestly, using online movie crowd funding to me is risk free filmmaking. The people that donate aren't giving you money expecting to ever see anything back or get a return on investment. It's like gambling with a bankroll that's free. When I donate money to the people that set up shop outside of stores I don't expect anything back when I put money in the box or bucket.
It's like lending money to that one relative or friend that you know will never be able to pay it back, but you like them and still want to help them out without holding it over their head.
When you use money from family, friends, your own money or film investors cash there is a much stronger sense to get the movie done in my opinion. No filmmaker wants to face family, friends or film investors and say they couldn't finish the movie. Friends and family are always forgiving in the end, but you'll still feel an emotional letdown if you can't deliver a finished movie like you told them you would.
Film investors are not forgiving and will cut you off from future film funds. They can write off the loss, but your reputation will take a hit and you'll lose out on them investing in your movies in the future. Finding money to make movies is harder than making the movie. Without film financing you only have a screenplay and a movie making dream keeping you company.
I always like to try to put out the brutal honesty first before getting to the feel good part of things. The great thing about saying yes to making a movie is you're moving from being one of the people that only talks about making movies and never does it.
When you're not even in the game you can't win or lose. You sit on the creative sidelines as a spectator thinking "woulda, coulda, shoulda" about your movie making passion. When you mentally commit to taking the creative leap of faith you'll feel a rush of genuine excitement. That's living!
You're movie making fire is now lit and you're ready to roll. You're no longer going to be a talented potential filmmaker. You will be a filmmaker doer. Each movie project is different, but here are few thoughts that might help sharpen you're movie production. This isn't for aspiring filmmakers that want to write a screenplay that needs a million dollar budget.
Thoughts on Making Movies
First, think of your marketing and distribution plan before writing the screenplay. This gives you the chance to think of movie product placement and other marketing avenues you can write into the screenplay to boost earning potential.
Second, before writing a screenplay think about the film budget you will need and where you plan on getting that money. Indie filmmakers are masters at writing screenplays based on what their resources are.
I know it sounds like the craft of screenwriting should come first, but for a first time indie filmmaker it's important to understand making movies is a business. You need to be able to exploit, yes exploit, as many marketing and product placement opportunities as possible.
Family and friends will invest in you because of your relationship, but still respect their hard earned money like you would if they were film investors you didn't know. Avoid being sloppy with paperwork. Give them the same kind of investor package you would if you were pitching to a film investor that wanted a return on investment.
Make sure the locked screenplay is tight as possible before spending one dollar of film investor money. A screenplay that is overwritten and packed with fluff will burn through production money fast.
During filming don't take the approach studio budget movies do. You're not going to be able to have 20 takes of scene to get it right. There's not enough money in an indie film budget to shoot it with a Hollywood filmmaker mentality.
You're really have to get in there on set and kickass on scenes. Not every take you're going to love or even like, but it's a time issue when shooting indie films. You have to be able to accept you're not going to have the luxury of doing take after take.
When a scene is covered move on and don't look back even if it didn't turn out how you envisioned. Being take happy during filming will lead to you running out of money and having an unfinished film that will need finishing funds to complete.
Tackle post-production with the same attitude you did on set to get the movie done.
Film investors will ride your ass unlike family or friends when it comes to when the movie will be done, sold and their money paid. Don't get shaken or take it personally. The business world is not warm and fuzzy full of hugs and kisses.