What You Need to Know About Making an Indie Film

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Photo Source: Steven Van/Unsplash

Independent filmmakers need to be tenacious if they want to see their project come to fruition. You can start with a lot of passion and drive, but if you don’t have tenacity, your movie will never see the light of day.

If you’re thinking about making your first indie, here are a few things to consider before getting started.

Are you willing to commit for the duration of the project?

Indie filmmaking can look fun from the outside, since it often involves creating something with friends. But what many people don’t think about is the time commitment involved. It can take years to complete a movie—so ask yourself if you’re in it for the long haul. It won’t all be fun; there are a lot of high-stress situations you’ll need to push through to reach your goal.

Are you ready to raise the funds?

Finding the money to finance a project can be a major roadblock for indie filmmakers, and the process can be tricky and time-consuming. Thankfully, there are some amazing crowdfunding resources out there, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. I encourage you to do the research about which platform is going to work best for you.

If you do opt to take this route, don’t be afraid to get creative with your promotional strategies. For example, in the Indiegogo campaign for a film I worked on called “The Umbrella,” all of the names of our perks were water-themed; so if someone donated $50, they received the “Drizzle Package.” 

The more you can get potential investors interested in your story, the better. That said, make sure those perks aren’t going to eat up all the funds you raise; you need to follow through with everything you promise to deliver.

Do you have a strong team to work with?

Find collaborators who are in it for the long haul. They need to be people you get along with who have seen you at your best and worst—the kind of partners who will champion each other as they pursue their shared goal.

The team you surround yourself with can make or break your film. If you’ve hired a person who’s highly skilled but has a horrible attitude, I’d advise you to find a team player instead, even if they’re not as talented. You’d be surprised how far a film can go with the right blend of personalities.

Is your screenplay ready?

The more time you spend developing a strong story that hasn’t been told before or that offers a new take on an old trope, the better. The strength of your script will affect who will back it financially­—and who will want to crew and act in it, too.

Is there a current film trend that you can incorporate into your project?

Will shooting the movie on a smartphone help draw the attention of audiences and financial backers? Does the plot center on a hot-button issue? Does your film tell the true story of an undersung hero? Having a strong theme will strengthen your chances of finding people to champion your project.

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

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The views expressed in this article are solely that of the individual(s) providing them,
and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Backstage or its staff.

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Charis Joy Jackson
Charis Joy Jackson is an actress, casting director, director, and producer. She’s been working in independent film for 10 years and teaches an intensive three-month acting school.
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