The Power Sucking Pitfalls of Indie Filmmaking

The Power Sucking Pitfalls of Indie Filmmaking

I’m making my first film. I don’t know why I keep calling it that; “My. First. Film.” But I do. Definitely not for the same reason I used to say, “It’s my First Week as a waitress.” That was an apology. This feels more like shock and awe. 

This exciting time in my life could really be a Rite of Passage. It could be the door that leads me into a whole new realm of opportunity. Or, “My First Film” could just be a milestone along my lifelong pathway of projects.

In my obsession with this topic over the last few weeks, I’ve learned that Rites of Passage have three basic phases; withdrawal from society, transition from one state to another and re-incorporation into society – that’s when everyone cheers and celebrates your new status. Re-incorporation is also what sets your experience apart from simply being an “accomplishment.” Because once you’ve slayed the dragon, you will forever be known as a Dragon Slayer.

Will my work strike enough of a chord with the audience, the box office, the Academy or even my peers, such that they acknowledge me as a whole new person based on this effort? This remains to be seen.

One thing is for sure, I am being called upon to hold my power every single step of the way. And there are so many steps!

Even though my partner and I could “Kickstart” this film and make it very decently for fifty grand, we’ve decided to take a bigger leap by attaching seasoned talent and setting our budget sites considerably higher. This makes us even more vulnerable to the…

top three power-sucking pitfalls OF INDIE FILMMAKING:

1.  Needing Help.

Two weeks ago I met with a “known actress” who read our script and loved it. We talked for almost two hours. She made reference to playing the lead (which is my part) and declined to be attached to the film, until we apply her notes for a “smaller” female role; which we have, because her notes were dead on. And that was all fine.

What wasn’t okay was how I, for one fleeting moment, ingratiated myself to her as if I needed to attach her to this film in order to close some very tenuous financing.

She’s wonderful, she gets it, and she’ll be fantastic in the movie, but we absolutely do not need her.

That one moment of powerlessness left me feeling like I was hit by a truck. It took one large meal, three hours of television and a good cry to get over that power-sucker.

 2.  Needing Approval.

For those of you out there still being an artist (especially in film) to win the approval of others, forget it. You know how insane that is, right? It will be three to five years before anyone has any idea what you’ve done. And by that time, you’ll be so proud of your own accomplishments that what they think won’t matter anymore.

This is your party and you hold all the cards. The right people will find their way to your project and so will the right money. Stand your ground and know what your lines are; so that when you come to them, you’re prepared to cross them, or not. (Example: Yes, I will sell out and let you play the lead in my film for a price tag of $___,___,___ ).

3.  Impatience.

It was going so well. And then I got excited. I wanted more and I wanted it faster. And that’s when I started getting depressed and disappointed. Take my advice and don’t do that. 

Look, it’s Hollywood, it takes time for people to get back to you. They’re writing their memoirs, or shooting on location in Savannah, or testing for three pilots this week. So, chill out. Grab another project and put some energy into that. (Which reminds me… if you haven’t seen Chat Roulette Wedding on Comedy Central digital – click here: We sure appreciate it!)

Making a movie, or an album or a wedding for that matter, takes time, love and focus. It takes everything you’ve got. And whether in the end it was just a lesson, or a milestone, or even that holy grail – a Rite of Passage; it’s an opportunity for you to be powerful. To believe in something. And to make it happen, no matter what power-sucking pitfalls tempt your way.