Every word here is pure gold:
1. There is no such thing as independent film
The film industry is all run by the conglomerates and studios who hatch small boutique companies to trade on the name ‘independent’. These production companies are run by the same moguls as their bigger budget Hollywood counterparts. In this corporate realm, moguls offer actors scale work on the promise that the cool films and directors they work with will enhance their careers. The producers of these lower budget films are offered elusive back end deals based on the success of the distribution process. Of course any profit is gobbled up by expenses.
2. It’s who you know, not what you know.
A good political mind is a far better asset to a budding filmmaker than anything else. Get really good at building relationships with the people that will matter to your career; distributors, sales agents and journalist. While you are at it, find out who the hot new PR’s are, and budget their fees into your monthly budget.
3. Casting counts.
Forget talent. Low budget films are bought and sold depending on the cast. Develop your relationships with new and established talent. Prove to them that you are the ‘Next Hot Thing,’ Demonstrate your skills working with actors by taking gigs in fringe theatre and by directing award winning short films.
If pursuing talent is not your game remember that you can always play the genre card and make either a horror or science fiction movie where the concepts are generally so strong you won’t need cast.
4. Originality is shunned.
The film industry is very conservative. Remember that your original idea might just terrify a studio executive at a production or distribution company. Find the basic message of your movie and learn how to tone it down so the suits can swallow it. If you want to slip in some controversy, great, but don’t flag this during the pitch or you won’t get through the front door.
5. Want to get into a film festival?
All festivals get thousands of submissions. And who are you? You are unknown, untried and untested. The major festivals rely on a handful of their trusted advisers to recommend the films that will make them look good and guarantee good press and box office. It is these people you need to get to know and schmooze. It’s a fact of life. It’s the way it is. Develop a strategy for dealing with it.