“But even if I’m left high and dry at the end of this wild journey, just taking it is a great feeling.” Olivia Wilde
Making a movie is a monumental undertaking. There are an endless series of decisions and adjustments to make as you work your way from an idea in your head to a hopefully coherent finished film. So obviously there is a lot of stress on the person with the brilliant idea to undertake such an ordeal. There are a few things I do to try to hold on to my sanity through this process though just taking up the process may make that sanity questionable at the very least. One thing I focus on is just being happy to be able to take the ride and not worry about the results. Results will be what they will be I am just excited to get the opportunity to make a film, even if at the end my only reward is the finished film. Here are a few other sanity protecting things I try to remember as we go along this journey:
1) Remember it’s a passion project – as a business venture an indie film would rank high on the list of stupidest ways to invest money so don’t look at it like that. Sure it would be great to make a massive pile of cash but that can’t be your aim because if it is all your going to produce is a cheap knockoff of a studio flick that nobody will care about. At it’s best indie film is driven by passionate people with a love for a genre and something to say so use that passion as the driving force and make decisions based on what makes things better.
2) Surround yourself with the right people – the right people make any project that much better. I look for passionate and talented people who understand the immensity of what I am attempting and recognize the weight I am putting on my own shoulders and know to step in and help when they can to make this massive undertaking more manageable.
3) Remember that you have something to say – if you are making an indie film the hope is you have something to say great or small about some subject great or small. Keep that message top of your mind, that will justify the hours, effort and expense you are going to pour into your passion project.
4) Always be improving – that is where the name ABI comes from and it is something to focus on throughout the process. Put the time and effort in to always be improving every aspect of your production from the script to the shot list to the makeup to the lenses selection. Every battle is won before it is ever fought and the more time you put into the preparation the better your final product will be. This will involve many long days and sleepless nights but remember a film once filmed is forever and every frame is a precious 1/24th of a second your audience is generously giving you make it worth it.
5) Make yours unique – it is an indie film so your not held to studio conventions. Make creative and unique decisions and take risks that if they pay off will make your work one for the ages.
6) Have fun – there is nothing worse than hating what you do and there is nothing greater for a team than enjoying the process so make sure things are fun and that the people who have offered you their time and efforts are rewarded with the most fun they ever had on a film set. Sure the film business is a serious business but indie films are more passion than commerce, more art than business so create an environment that people want to be a part of even if the pay is below market.
Hopefully some of this helps other filmmakers or really anyone who has knowingly bitten off more than they can chew and decided to chew anyway.