Thursday, July 31, 2014

All About Crowdfunding

Well, this post isn't really ALL about crowdfunding.  Instead, I'd just like to share a few thoughts regarding some of the things I've been learning.

Crowdfunding is really gaining traction as a method filmmakers use to try and raise funds for their projects.  It has met with limited success.  Part of the reason, I think, is that many folks jump into crowdfunding before really researching and preparing for what a campaign really entails.

With our feature film Cyber Fighter still in development, I've been doing a lot of research into the crowdfunding realm to analyze the potential benefits vs. costs of mounting a crowdfunding campaign.  With the success of Zach Braff's Wish I Was Here , Spike Lee's latest Joint, or the Veronica Mars Project, the excitement for Kickstarter and Indiegogo is at an all time high.

Now, there's a semi-consensus out there that feels that those projects mentioned above achieved their success because of the star names driving the projects.  Since there was already "brand awareness" out there, these folks had a much better chance of raising over $1M in pledges/donations.

But the other big success story of Kung Fury, a small indie film project out of Sweden that was shot entirely on green screen with CGI elements, gives the unknown filmmaker hope.  With a $200K goal, they managed to raise over $630K in contributions from over 17,000 backers.  What made this film campaign so successful?

First, the project itself was compelling.  Here was an outrageous send-up of bad 80s movies, completely over the top and hilarious.  The pitch video showcased a lot of the CGI effects (of which a lot was already completed), so potential backers got a real good look at what they would be getting on board with.

Second,  the rewards were priced accordingly, and related to the film.  Plus, there were pretty cool rewards at the higher tiers.  The filmmakers weren't asking for $100 for a coffee mug or T-shirt.  However, if you look at their campaign, you'll see that over 600 backers chose the "autographed poster" reward, which means the director will get a serious case of writer's cramp!  But that's one of the costs of success, and hopefully the filmmakers built the cost of reward fulfillment into their budget.

Because this project was unique and fun, it generated a viral word of mouth that eventually spread to the media which increased its visibility.  I think filmmakers should take a cue from this campaign and study it extensively to see what they did right.

But it's not enough to study success, you also need to look at common mistakes to avoid the same pitfalls. Here is a generalization of a few observations of crowdfunding mistakes I've seen:

1. Overestimating Your Relevance - Beware of going into a campaign thinking that everyone is just going to eat you up and love your film!  The truth is, there's a cacophony of noise that you have to fight against just to get noticed by a few.  In order to get traction, your campaign has to appeal to the general public, not just friends and family.  If you build it, they will not come unless they know about it, and feel personally interested in it.

2. Crappy Rewards - Too many campaigns offer the same coffee mug/t-shirt/DVD reward at a price that multimillionaires would consider insulting.  If you're going to offer those rewards, make sure you price them according to the market.  Put yourself in the backers' shoes.  What kinds of rewards would you want?  Creative rewards that directly relate to your project will definitely get better notice, and if it's really something special, you may be able to offer it at a higher price.

3. Not Connecting With Your Backers - This should be a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised at how many campaigners feel that they are too busy with their process to reach out to their audience.  Listen, people who back projects are looking to connect with the process, not just "buy a ticket".  Any time you can offer more value to your audience, you will stand out.  These folks who've invested in you are your audience. No matter how big you get, if you can keep engaging them, they will be loyal to you and your future career.

4. Not Backing Any Projects Yourself - People will tend to support those who've been supportive of others.  Before going off with your own campaign, find a few projects that you like and back them.  Not only does that generate good Karma in the Universe for you, but it shows the community that you're not just out looking for "free money".  Here's a tip:  Make sure to create your professional profile on the crowdfunding platforms before you donate to others' campaigns.  That way your profile will have a track record of backing projects so that when you launch yours, you've already laid this groundwork.  Always back projects through this profile so that you create an identity that others associate with you.  Who knows, some of these people you've backed may return the favor someday!

5. Failing At A Campaign And Immediately Launching A New One On A Different Platform - Don't be the crowdfunding equivalent of a panhandler standing on the corner bumming for money.  If you decide on Kickstarter, know going in that it's all-or-nothing.  If you don't reach your goal, you get nothing.  So don't immediately announce that you're launching again on Indiegogo and expect the Kickstarter backers to follow you over there and throw money at you.  Since your initial campaign failed, these backers have lost a little confidence in you.  If your Indiegogo campaign doesn't succeed, then you will still keep any money that was pledged, but that doesn't mean you'll be able to finish your movie.  Backers already know this, and aren't going to give up their money if they don't think you can deliver the finished product, much less the rewards.  Decide beforehand which platform on which you're going to launch, and stick to your guns.  This wishy-washy campaigning is like the person who tries to date 2 people at the same time.  It doesn't end up well.

6. Setting Your Goal Too High - This is what primarily contributes to campaign failure.  Say your production budget is for $2 million.  If you try to raise all the funds via crowdfunding, your odds are greater for failure than if you tried to raise only $20K.  Crowdfunding experts have mentioned that campaigns are like a middle-school dance.  No one wants to go out on the dance floor at first, but once enough people are out there, soon the whole floor fills up with dancers.  It's the same with crowdfunding.  Backers want to back winners.  If your goal is reasonable enough, you'll find that it's reached sooner and people will continue backing even after your goal is reached.  You want folks to feel like they want to get on board with the next big thing.

But what if your budget is already reduced to the minimum and you still need $1M?  Here's where you have to get creative.  How can you still realize the film if you can only raise a fraction of the money?   Going back to the Kung Fury guys -- they had already shot most of the live action scenes on green screen and only needed the money to complete the CGI work.  If you break your project into phases, you might be able to crowdfund for each phase (ie. Prep, Production, Post Production).

7. Online Panhandling - Essentially begging for money...all the time.  The constant flood of e-mails asking for support, Facebook posts saying "we need your money",  painting yourself as a starving artist who's desperate...these tactics never work.  Plus, if you use them on your friends and family you risk alienating them.  Along these lines are those Facebook and message board posts just asking people to look at your campaign.  Since everyone seems to be doing this, what makes you think that your post won't be ignored either?  Think about it -- when you see all those "check out our campaign" FB posts, do you click on the links?  If not, then it's most likely that others will ignore you as well.  Nobody likes to be constantly hit up for cash, and I know that most folks don't feel comfortable asking for money either.  But since the truth is that you do need the money, there are much more productive and professional ways to go about it.  See the next section for more elaboration.

Things To Do Right:
Here's a few things that I think filmmakers should do with their campaigns.  I've seen the successful projects use some or all of these, so it bears mentioning:

  • Share the campaign:  Announce your campaign and the goals, but don't beg.  Instead ask folks to spread the word, and if they want to support, great!  If not, that's okay too.  Not everyone is able to contribute money for whatever reasons and you need to respect that.
  • Regarding FB Posts and message board posts:  First, give people something of value and then use your campaign announcement as an afterthought.  By giving away something useful, people are more likely to check you out.  Remember the end of It's A Wonderful Life?  George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) spent so much of his life giving and helping other people that when he needed them the most, they were there with a flood of support.
  • Keep updating your backers with the good news:  As you reach a milestone, share it with your backers.  Keep them invested in the campaign.  The folks who've backed your project will help spread the word and possibly do the "arm-twisting" for you.  They're invested in your success!
  • Use social media wisely:  Tweet milestones to your followers, use your movie's Facebook page to announce milestones as well.  This is the equivalent of Coke & Pepsi's advertising - to keep awareness out in the public
  • Have your campaign planned like a war.  There's a reason that the military refers to battles as "campaigns" -- a lot of strategy and planning goes into it before troops are deployed.  So it should be the same for your campaign.  Have your milestones planned, consider pre-writing your tweets and updates so they're ready to go, but always be prepared to change things on the fly -- just like a real battle.
There you have it, a few of my personal observations on the whole crowdfunding phenomenon.  It's an exciting time, where artists are able to connect directly with their audiences and give their fans a chance to be part of their creative process.  No other time in entertainment history has this been possible, and I think that the trend is going to continue.  Those artists that understand their audiences will be the most successful in this new generation of the entertainment industry.  Hopefully I've helped you to think of things in a new way and inspired you with your projects.  Please feel free to post your own thoughts in the comments section, and best of luck!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Great JuntoBox Experiment, Phase 2...

So, earlier I wrote about the website and how I put "Cyber Fighter" up there for consideration for production.  Well, we did make it to Level 4 and got over 100 followers as I had hoped for.   However, JuntoBox can only produce a small handful of films per year and so it is probably not likely for the indie studio to pick this one up for production.

However, the creators of the site have done a tremendous service to the filmmaking community by providing a forum in which to pitch, promote, and team up for our various projects.  Unlike Facebook, Twitter, etc. , JuntoBox is a filmmakers' community.  We all share the same dream and are able to come together to support each other and help get the word out on our films.  For those creators who are inclined to go the crowdfunding route, JuntoBox allows you to link an Indiegogo campaign.

You can also solicit cast and crew applications for your film, in order to build a team.  Right now, we are working on a list of crew positions that are key in this development stage.  If we can fill certain positions with amazing talent, it will help us get further towards full financing and eventual production.

So, I can safely say that JuntoBox has so far been a success.  Sometimes the path you end up taking isn't the one you thought you would take at the beginning of the journey, but it can lead to greener pastures.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fix It On The Page, Before It Hits The Stage...

When developing a film or TV project, the most fun I have is during the development process, more specifically, the writing.  Those of us who are also writers know that this is the stage in which we have the most control over our project.  It's just me and my Movie Magic Screenwriter program on my laptop, a perfect symbiosis between creator and medium.

Once you've spit out that first draft, then the real crafting begins...rewriting.  You actually have to have something physically in existence in order to mold it to perfection.  Think about it.  You can't sculpt a statue without the clay and basic shape.  So you can't really fix your story without having a first draft already completed.  

For example, my movie Cyber Fighter currently in development at JuntoBox Films: 
has been rewritten many, many times.  In order to perfect the plot, shape the characters, make the dialogue pop, etc.   I've needed to periodically fix things that were either called to my attention from re-reading it, or through staged and table readings of the script with writer and actor friends.  As the project has been moving forward, I'm also becoming aware of certain elements in the script that might be cost prohibitive.  As another example, there was a scene in an earlier draft which had live gunfire.  After doing a preliminary budget and schedule to see how this would be done during production, I realized that it was going to get pretty expensive.  Plus, the point of the scene had nothing to do with gunfire, there was actually a martial arts fight in the scene as well.   So by eliminating the live fire, I was able to cut this scene down to it's essentials, maintaining its moving the plot and story forward while cutting costs.  This before a single frame was shot.

Once you're in production, the changes you have to make on the fly are not going to save you as much as the changes you make before you've crewed up and started spending money.  Anything you shoot and end up cutting in the editing room is going to be wasted money (even if you add it back as a DVD extra), so it's better to eliminate the stuff that might not make it to the final cut.

One of the best ways to do this is with extensive previsualization.  I've mentioned this in an earlier post from 2012 about Zero Budget Pre-Vis, so I won't re-hash.  Storyboarding allows you to see your film as it will appear on screen, and you can time this with the script to see the flow.  Clunky items can be cut or eliminated, and you'd be surprised at how much you can get rid of and still have a great script.

Even after a successful fundraising campaign, you might not get all the dollars you asked for, so you may need to end up making more cuts to the script so that you can craft a schedule and budget that conforms to the funding.  It's always better to do that instead of trying to raise more money when you run out.  Always "shoot beneath your means" without sacrificing the integrity of the film.

There's no time limit for development and pre-vis.  The longer you can spend on planning, the better you'll be when the cameras start rolling!

Happy Filmmaking!

Friday, June 14, 2013

An Implosion Of The Movie Industry?

Recently, the Hollywood Reporter published this story where George Lucas & Steven Spielberg were talking about the future of the movie industry:

Do I agree with the assessment?  Not 100%.  I don't think that movies are going to end up like Broadway Productions with huge ticket prices and everything else being shown on a small screen.  In my opinion, there is a reason for the increased ticket prices and it goes back to the early 2000s.

If you recall, when digital cinema first came out, there was concern from theater exhibitors as to how they were going to fund the cost of upgrading their projectors and systems to be able to show digital movies.  Back then, the studios agreed to split the cost.  Theaters were able to recoup this cost by charging more for box office admission, and a hell of a lot more in concessions.  Almost overnight, the price of a movie ticket went up from about $8 (in Los Angeles) to $14.  That's where I think it all started.

Now, after over 10 years since the major multiplexes have converted over, you would think that they've recouped their original investment and can now lower prices to a more reasonable amount.  But this isn't the case.  Exhibitors are continuing with price gouging practices that need to stop, if they want to keep their customers coming back to the movies.

Don't get me started on the price of popcorn and soda.  I know that theaters make most of their profit from concessions since the cost of exhibiting the movies cuts into their box office revenue, but when the price of a soda and bucket of popcorn is almost the price of an entree at Morton's Steakhouse, we have a problem.  Really?  I mean, popcorn costs pennies to make.  But since movie-going audiences seem to have accepted these prices, I don't see them dropping.  In fact, concessions have gone up a lot over the past decade.

Since people are able to rent movies over the internet now, there's less of an incentive to go to the movie theater.  Sure, some movies need to be seen on a big screen, but when you can get a 72 inch flat TV from Best Buy and a kick-ass home theater system, why go to the multiplex?  To really save the movie business (from the exhibitor's side), prices need to come down.

Yes, I know there are other issues like video piracy, especially when movies are being cut digitally and without a film print.  That makes it easier for a pirate to steal a copy of the movie and distribute it illegally over the internet.  Recent work by the FBI to shut down some of the bigger offenders has certainly helped in this regard, as well as the successful legitimate downloading services like iTunes, and Netflix.  It's more convenient to purchase entertainment legally.  You'll always have outlaw hackers, but by making them have to work harder to steal, there's fewer folks willing to do it.

Back to the whole Broadway analogy.  Why are audiences willing to spend $100 on a ticket to a Broadway show?  Simple.  It's a live performance.  You are sharing the same room as the actors up there on stage.  It's a communal experience where both performer and audience are sharing the exact same moment in time.  You can't replace that with screened entertainment.   No matter how many monsters, explosions, shootouts, car chases, and other VFX you throw into a movie, you can't change the fact that it was photographed months if not years before, and put together in an editing room.  Every time you watch it, it will unfold in exactly the same way.  Doing it live is not only the oldest method of performing, but it's also the most unique.

That's why you don't have to worry about movies costing the same as Broadway.  After all is said and done, it's still only a movie.  Audiences know this.  At some point they are going to stop going to the movies altogether, if the industry doesn't wake up and pay attention.

Here's where I see the future.  Independent filmmakers and producers right now are coming up with better stories than your typical studio tentpole summer release.  And they're doing it for a lot less, often casting big name actors who are drawn to the material rather than a huge paycheck.  Because a lot of these movies end up winning Oscars, more and more actors are going to be willing to work in these productions.

Indie producers will "four wall" their movies, in order to qualify for the Academy, and then make most of their money back on video, Netflix, Amazon, etc.  Because they have a lower break-even point, they don't need to have a $100 million opening weekend.  Besides, most of today's big budget $100M openers actually cost over $300 million when you factor in marketing costs.  So as long as they don't drop off too much, they still make money, but the margins suck.

I predict that studios will soon discover that it costs less for them to acquire a completed independently produced film and spend $10 million marketing it, instead of making it themselves with a $150 million production budget.  Because technology has allowed small time filmmakers to produce films with really good effects and production values, very soon you will see a very commercial high concept feature film that was made for less than $5 million that looks like a $200 million movie.  Once that happens, the studios will get out of the production business (with the exception of renting out their soundstages and other studio resources to indie producers) and into a distribution only model.

So, if you're an indie filmmaker with a dream and a 5D Canon camera, be very very excited.  Soon you might find the big boys knocking on your door!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

The Great JuntoBox Experiment

When you have a feature film in development, one of the hardest things to do is to find the financing.  Raising money for a short film is no easy feat--when you multiply the running time by a factor of five, the budget can easily balloon to a six or seven figure amount.

Even in this day and age of digital filmmaking, the cost to shoot a feature film of professional quality can get very expensive.  The shooting schedule for a feature is several weeks, and Post Production can also be a lengthy process.  Were it not for the fact that we all have bills to pay, we might be able to pull a feature off with a mirco budget, or for free.  The last time I was able to do that, I was a teenager living at home and didn't have to worry about rent or other expenses that us adults deal with every month.

Conventional wisdom has become topsy-turvy.  In the "old days", if you wanted to make a feature film, you had to approach studios or banks for the financing.  Without being a Hollywood Insider, you had very little chance of getting your movie made.  If you had a talent for writing, you might have been able to sell or option your script to a studio, who would then package it with big name stars, and if you were lucky, the movie would be made.  If you were very lucky, the film might even have become a hit.  But chances are, you would have been bought out by the studio.

Nowadays, it is entirely possible to use crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo to raise 100% of the funding for your film.  Assuming that your budget is low enough, and that you've calculated the cost of providing rewards to your backers, this could be the way to bring your dreams to reality.  But there's a downside...and that's the whole "asking for money" part.  Many film budgets are in the $200K to $2M range, which is very difficult to raise using crowdfunding sources.  Even now, it appears that only production companies and studios have the capital to make a feature film worthy of your local multiplex.

Until now.  Enter JuntoBox Films, a Santa Monica based indie studio started by actor/director Forest Whitaker, with the goal of supporting independent film.  Their method is through their website,  Here, users can register and post their film projects.  In order to be considered by the studio, they need to progress through 4 levels of social interaction and milestones to get to the coveted Level 5, where the JuntoBox chiefs review your project and decide whether or not to option it and try to have it become one of their greenlit films.

There's no asking folks for money.  Instead, you network with other filmmakers on the site, following and supporting each others' projects to rack up the required number of followers and star ratings that help you advance.  In addition, you need to provide the treatment, script, conceptual art, and pitch video to assist in drumming up your supporters.

To me, this is a win-win situation.  Of course, there might be sticking points in the option agreement, and even after reaching Level 5, there are still enough real obstacles that can still prevent your film from being greenlit, but I believe that the only way to really lose, is not to try.

So here's where I'm putting my "money" where my mouth is.  Check out our project "Cyber Fighter" here:  

 Our goal is to get 100 followers and 4-5 star ratings by August 1, 2013.  Unlike many of the other projects featured on JuntoBox Films, "Cyber Fighter" already has a complete script, treatment, and preliminary budget.  This film is further along than a lot of the other films featured on the site, so our goal is entirely realistic.

We've managed to get to Level 2 at the time of this posting, partially by following other projects and getting their creators' support.  But to reach the goal, we need to reach out to all our networks in order to attract followers.  100 followers and 4-5 star ratings will put us well over the minimum requirements set by the site designers and studio chiefs.  Here's where you can help.  We're asking you to do the following:

1. Click on the link above.

2. Register for free on JuntoBox Films.  For those of you in the entertainment industry, it's a great way for you to also network with other filmmakers.  Many projects are actively seeking casts and crew, and by completing your profile, you'll be able to also apply for various positions on other films.

3. Give us at least a 4 star rating.   One of the requirements for Level 4 is to have at least 80 4 star ratings.  I make it my policy to rate other projects I like with 4 stars, that way I'm also supporting my other fellow filmmakers.  I also reciprocate the support given to me by other members with projects.  We're not in competition against each other; ultimately it's JuntoBox that will decide what projects they want to option.  There's no race to the top--I believe that if you have a great concept, an awesome script, and a commercial project, they'll most likely want to option it.

4. Don't forget to also click on the "follow" button.   That way you will become a follower and will be able to track the progress.   We intend on opening up some cast and crew positions for you to be able to apply to in the near future as we refine the project on the site.  Stay tuned as we'll also be shooting a pitch video and perhaps a teaser trailer that will show proof of concept.

So that's it!  Our great JuntoBox Experiment.  Could this be the new paradigm for independent film?  I'm hoping so as it brings a kind of democratic process to the indie film industry.  Hope to see you there!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Keeping Motivated...

Ever run into a period where it's really hard to stay motivated?  We've all been there, and us creative folks have been there many times.   Sometimes it's difficult to keep our eyes on the prize.  The process of seeing a project from inception to release can be a very very long time.

While it's OK to slack off every once and a while, to prevent burnout, the danger is to let apathy put you into a never-ending holding pattern.  Eventually, you need to snap out of it, and remember why you're in this business in the first place.

Since filmmaking is an entrepreneurial endeavor, you're often your own studio head, boss, producer, etc.  As you're developing your project (on spec, of course), there's no one to hold you accountable for hitting your milestones, unlike a traditional corporate (or studio) structure.

Many years ago, I found myself at a creative crossroads.  I wasn't sure where I was going, and I had no idea how to get to the next level.  I realized that I could keep doing the same thing forever and nothing would ever change.  But I wanted to do so much more, and I didn't know how.

In situations like these, it's important to do something different.  If you're an athlete, you understand the concept of a training plateau.  In weight training, when you hit a plateau, then it's time to change up your workout routine to stimulate progress.  Your body gets used to doing things a certain way, and you won't progress unless you "shock" it into new growth.

The same goes with your mind.  Routine, while a comfort to many, is the enemy of creativity.  Once you find yourself "phoning it in", or working on autopilot, it's time to change things up.  Start a new routine.  For actors, this could be taking a brand new class, or even learning a new language or physical skill.  For writers & filmmakers, it could be introducing a new ritual into your script writing process.

I discovered this book The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron.  I had heard about it for many years; lots of my creative friends mentioned that they had done this course.  It's a book, but it's really a workbook that is designed to jump-start your creativity.  There are groups out there who go through the multi-week program together, but you can also do it alone.  Just make sure that you have the discipline to stick with it, because it's not easy.

 The Artist's Way Morning Pages (Google Affiliate Ad)          The Artist's Way at Work: Ridi (Google Affiliate Ad)

One of the activities that is part of the program is what's know as the Morning Pages.  You are required to write 3 full pages, single spaced, first thing each day.  There's no requirement for subject matter, only that you complete 3 pages...each day.  This is not easy.  Considering how many weeks are in the program, you will definitely have those moments where you don't know what you are going to write about.  But you have to do it!  In order to break through your own mental limitations, you need to push yourself, much like a personal trainer has you squeeze out a few extra reps, when you think you can't.

A funny thing happens when you break through your resistance.  Your mind begins to work on a different level.  You stop thinking and start being.  As an actor, this is best accomplished through Improv and other theater exercises, but for a writer, this is the next best substitute.  While the other activities in the program are very good for infusing your creativity, for me, it was the Morning Pages ritual that really clicked.

If you're so inclined, you might want to check the book out.  It's been around for many years, and they now have a new volume that's also geared towards your chosen career. They also now have a Morning Pages Journal that you can purchase as well.  But my main point is that whenever you hit a plateau, you need to shock yourself to a new level by doing something different.

It's been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, expecting different results.  By changing, we grow.  Find your own new activity or ritual to move you out of your funk and into new levels of creativity!

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Long Road Of Development

A lot of you have probably heard the term "overnight success".  Many of us, early on in our own careers, will believe these tales of meteoric rise to the top and figure that if it doesn't happen fast enough, it wasn't meant to be.  After all, once a movie is greenlit, it should arrive in the theaters within 2 or three years tops, right?

Except that a lot of this PR "puffing" that we read in all the fanzines and consumer-grade trade publications tend to omit a lot of the "less sexy" stuff.  The years of toil and seemingly insurmountable odds it took for a film to finally reach your local multiplex.  Hollywood & the press like to focus on box office returns, not "development hell", or as I call it "development purgatory".

You see, hell is a final condemnation place where all hope is gone and where there is no escape. It's where your project goes to burn in eternal torment.  To me, "development hell" is the end of the road -- no return.  But to most creatives, the term relates to having a project in limbo, with no forward progress.  It might not be dead, but things aren't looking hopeful either.  That's why I prefer to call it purgatory.

For those who may not know, purgatory isn't the end -- rather it's a "holding place" for your soul (or your project).  In Catholic theology, prayers to the saints for the souls in purgatory can bring about intercession which could commute your sentence.  While prayer itself might not be enough to move your project to the greenlight,  it can definitely be helped by some intercession from "angels" or  new found champions on your team.

If you actually do the research, you'll find that every big movie had a long and bumpy road.  From George Lucas' first penciled draft of "The Star Wars" on a yellow legal pad to the May 1977 premiere of the original iconic movie that changed Hollywood forever, the years and years of struggle to write the script, find a studio to back it, get the budget it needed (and failing that, find a way to get Fox to fund the completion), etc, made the eventual blockbuster success that much sweeter.  The same goes for so many other movies.

As an indie producer/filmmaker, how do you get your film out of development purgatory?  Well, with the digital revolution in its second decade, the cost of shooting a feature film has dropped significantly.  There are many freelance DPs who own their own high-end camera package now, and securing their services will give you access to a professional camera like the Red Epic, or Alexa.  Plus, no longer do you need film stock -- today's camera "loader" spends their time changing the memory cards and battery packs, not loading film magazines.

Since the cost of making a film has dropped, the best solution is to shoot it already.  In Hollywood, there is an assumption that in order to shoot a feature film, there are certain parameters that you need to follow without question.  The problem with this is that it will block your progress.  It's been said that ignorance is bliss-- this can be very true when it comes to making a movie.  Sometimes the more you know, the more apt you are to "wait until you have everything in place" before you begin.

Instead, perhaps "learning on the job" will be the best way to get your filmmaker education, and complete your film.  Most of the advice I've heard from indie filmmaking panels and Q&A sessions after screenings is to "just do it".   So take that advice.  Don't let the naysayers give you any mental obstacles to stand in your path.  The cliche goes "where there's a will, there's a way".  But it's so true.  Figuring out how to make your dream a reality will probably be one of the most satisfying things that you'll ever do.  So do it!