I decided to do a quick internet search to find out about online tools and services for indie filmmakers. In theory, there’s a wide array of solutions: platforms for social networking, crowdsourcing, funding, editing and distribution of films. These should cover all the bases, right? Well…
From Idea to Script Development
There are online tools for screenwriters, from writing software to brainstorming apps. There are even some platforms for writer collaboration, but most screenwriters I know just use the internet for research.
When it comes to indie filmmaking, script development is often overlooked. You may think getting professional feedback will only slow you down or force you into a mold. Isn’t creative freedom one of the great advantages of making films outside the studio system? Well, fine. We’ll get back to this later.
But so that we’ve covered this: There are professional script doctors out there. Their services are usually available via the internet and you can pay by credit card. And if you want to skip ahead to see what will happen to your screenplay, try this wee TEST we designed.
Everyone’s heard of crowdfunding. So, you create a page with a gripping pitch and attractive giveaways, then share it on Facebook and Twitter. That’s it! Right? Well, unless your social network is huge (i.e. you’re famous) you might only get 10% of the budget. On some platforms, you get to keep that.
There’s nothing wrong with crowdfunding platforms, in theory. It’s just that what you really need funding for is to attract well-known actors and drum up other publicity, which will then work as your marketing collateral – for further fundraising etc. So you can’t raise money without money. It’s a paradox. Which is great food for creative thought. Just not quite as great as actual food, which costs money.
All jokes aside – crowdfunding is a fascinating concept and really deserves its own article. Coming soon…
Finding Crew / cast members
So let’s say you need to find someone new – someone talented, who will kickstart (excuse the pun) your project. Or just someone who can do the job.
There are social networking sites and online communities for filmmakers, where you can share your showreel and engage in discussions with other filmmakers. I’ve found other filmmakers online. Some of them have been great to work with. None of them have been famous. Well-known filmmakers don’t seem to frequent online filmmaking communities. It’s also hard to know which people are actually valuable to my production. The industry is full of crazies – the good kind and the bad kind. You know what I mean. (By the way, this is one of the big challenges we’re working on at Filmsourcing!)
Finding locations, props and costumes
I’ve used real estate websites, browsed holiday home listings, annoyed my Facebook friends and bribed old people with an amazing house with chocolates and flowers… One reason I’m so glad to be working on Filmsourcing is that we get to cure this production headache once and for all!
Jumping ahead in time – your film is finished. It doesn’t come with famous actors or fancy marketing material, but it’s done. What do you do with it?
From the technical point of view, there are brilliant solutions. VOD and other online distribution has never been easier. The real problem – Nobody is watching. Maybe we need to stop treating people as passive consumers who are spoon-fed entertainment. Maybe we need to stop calling our audience “the end users” and involve them in the distribution process?
Regardless, before we start brainstorming about “how to reach an audience?”, I would trace our steps through the production. Did all those wonderful tools work for you? Did you succeed in making a brilliant film? Most crowd / self funded indie films that I’ve seen have been dreadfully boring or plain painful. Sometimes I can blame the production quality or bad acting, but usually it’s the story. The screenplay isn’t good enough.
There are wonderful online tools for filmmakers, that allow many films, which previously would have remained pipe dreams, to be realized. But do they deserve an audience? Which tools are we missing, that would improve the quality of these productions before they even have to worry about distribution? And finally, when something great emerges – how does it reach an audience?
At Filmsourcing, we’re about more than just resource sharing. We aim to make the world a better filmmaking place. Not to produce twice as much mediocre video content, but to allow the best ideas to rise to the surface and be realized to the highest quality – and to help them find an audience. I know, it’s a gigantic task. That’s why we have to look at the whole process of filmmaking, find the pitfalls and work toward comprehensive solutions. You can be part of the process by signing up, giving feedback and spreading the word. You can start by taking a quick poll (below) to help us gather some statistics for the next article!
Enni / Filmsourcing