Film Courage: James, what would you say to that person who just can’t get that first project off of the ground?
James Kicklighter, Filmmaker: Well, no one is asking for your film. Let’s start there. No one cares about you. No one wants to hear your film. No one wants to hear your story because they don’t know you exist. I don’t mean that in a harsh way, but they don’t care about your film.
And so if you want your first film to be made, unless you are independently wealthy, which I was not independently wealthy being a child of teachers, I had to figure out how to do it. I had to figure out how to put money together. My first film was a short film called THE CAR WASH with a dear friend of mine named Edith Ivey who is still with us. She is almost 91 now. And she agreed to be in my film because she liked my script and I figured out how to finance it by making high-school graduation DVDs with a camcorder having a basic package for $20.00 where you would get just your get college graduation on a DVD. But for $30.00 you could get an upgraded package with the exclusive behind-the-scenes photo gallery before graduation and your name printed on a disc. 80 percent of the people bought the deluxe edition even though there’s not really a big difference between the two.
Then I was able to use that money to channel it into making my first film. I was able to fly Edith to Savannah (to Statesboro, Georgia). I was able to pay for a hotel, do catering, all of these things. I was still in college and I didn’t have money, but I made enough money to pay her SAG student fee. I made enough money to do all of those other things. And it was because I looked at things entrepreneurially and I said Well how can I do this one thing to do this other thing? Because nobody cared about my film and nobody cared about me. It’s like I’ve never made anything, who cares? You are in college, whatever. I made it happen for myself.
Because I made that choice and because I cast the right actor, because I took it to film festivals, because I went to those film festivals (all on my own dime) not because I’m independently wealthy. Again, I was able to get to a point where now people give me checks to make films and it was because I took that initiative.
So it’s not that you can’t make your film. It’s that you are choosing not to make it because you are choosing not to take that leap. There is no guarantee when you take that leap that you will have that wonderful series of events happen (none). I was just lucky that people liked the film that I made.
And so the best thing you can do is write the best damn script you can make, get the best feedback from people you know, from people who…(Watch the video interview on Youtube here).
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