What You Need To Know About Making An Independent Film

Originally written for Backstage

Independent filmmakers need to be tenacious in order to see their film come to fruition. You can start with a lot of passion and drive, but if you don’t have tenacity, you’re film will never see the light of day.

If you’re thinking about making an independent film here are a few things you need to make sure you’ve considered beforehand:

Are you willing to commit for the life of the project? Independent film can look super fun on the outside. Often it’s a group of friends making a fun movie together, but what we don’t think about is the cost of time it takes for all the key people involved. It can take years for an indie film to be completed. So before you say yes to this ask yourself if you’re ready to commit for the long haul. Because it’s not all pretty and happy, there’s a lot of high-stress situations that you’ll need to keep pushing through to reach that end goal.

Are you ready to raise the funds? This is the biggest roadblock you’ll find in independent film. Everything costs money and finding those finances can be tricky and time consuming. Thankfully, there are some amazing resources out there for us. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are two great options. But I’d encourage you to do the research about which platform is going to work best for you.

Get creative with raising awareness of your need. When I was crowdfunding for The Umbrella, we used Indiegogo and all the names of our perks were themed around water. For example if someone donated $50 to our project they received the Drizzle Package. The more you can engage your audience to your story the better.

Make sure the perks you pick aren’t going to eat up all the funds you’ve just raised too. Especially with anything you’ve agreed to ship to the backer – make sure it’s something you can follow through with.

Do you have a strong team of people to work with you? The biggest support structure and the thing I recommend most is having a strong team of people who are willing to commit for the long haul too. People you get along with, who have seen your best and worst, and people who are going to continue to championing each other to reach the end goal.

The team you surround yourself with can make or seriously delay your independent film. If you’ve got people who are highly skilled but have horrible attitudes, I’d encourage you to find someone with a better attitude – even if they they aren’t as highly skilled. You’d be surprised how far a film can go if the team have the right attitude.

Is your screenplay ready? The more time you spend developing a strong story that hasn’t been told before or is a new take on an old trope the better your film will be received. Your story has almost everything to do with who will back it financially and it’ll be a big part of who wants to crew and act in it too.

Is there a new trend in film that you can add to the filming or story? For example, will shooting it all on a smart phone help draw an audience or financial backer? Is it about a specific cause or is it telling the true story of some undiscovered hero? Even if it’s just a fun story, make sure the theme is something that will drive people to get behind it and help.

Independent film really isn’t for everyone. But if it’s an area you want to explore, do what you can to find yourself an awesome community of filmmakers who inspire each other and can create something innovative in the process.

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  • Charis Joy Jackson

    Producer, Director, Writer, Actress

    Charis Joy Jackson is a writer, director, producer and teacher working with The Initiative Production Company. During the day she makes movies and in her spare time is writing a novel. She's a self-proclaimed nerd who wishes she could live in Hobbiton. You can follow her on Instagram @charisjoyjackson

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