How can I get my film made?
It’s a can’t-miss story! A young boy is kidnapped by aliens just as his mom is dying. Brought up as a space pirate by the very aliens who took him, he befriends the daughter of a galactic warlord, a talking raccoon, an alien warrior that takes things too literally, and a tree that walks around saying only three words.
Sounds… interesting, right? Of course, with the full weight of the Marvel Universe backing that storyline, the movie got made. Guardians of the Galaxy became a beloved entry into the Avengers catalog. In the hands of, say, Ed Wood, it could have become a schlocky b-film with bad costumes and hoky dialogue.
While a copious amount of cash would certainly help, all you really need to get a film made is a good idea for a movie, money for gear and supplies, and a supportive band of friends or family to help your journey along. But there are quite a few miles between starting a script to yelling out “That’s a Wrap!” on the set.
Making Your Movie
You can try to cut out the industry altogether (although we recommend becoming a member of the Writers Guild of America) and make the movie yourself. There are plenty of success stories, including El Mariachi. The movie made $2 million dollars at the box office, nearly 267 times what it was made for (less than $7,500).
If you have a couple of more dollars at your disposal, The Blair Witch Project was made for $60,000 and made nearly $250 million at the worldwide box office. It spawned two sequels, comic books, and video games. It also spawned a new way to tell a story – found footage.
As streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime are taking on the big movie houses, more small-budget films have the chance to be seen by a wider audience. In fact, Netflix has won a total of six Oscars and Amazon Studios has won multiple Golden Globes and Emmys.
All of that means you don’t need to be a major player to make your movie, nor do you need to have a large pile of money. What you do need is a solid screenplay, a well-planned shooting schedule, and a little bit of luck. You’ll have to fight tooth and nail to get your independent film on the film festival circuit and hope one production company takes note.
Because all it takes is one. Will your film elevate your career as Clerks did for Kevin Smith and Mad Max did for George Miller?
Size, Scope, and Setting
While your finances might only pay for a weeknight in Monaco for the A-Listers, it’s been proven you don’t need much to get your film made. But be smart about it. There are plenty of videos from people in your exact situation on YouTube on how they solved problems, saved money, and eventually finished their film.
Make Do With Your Settings
Clerks was filmed almost entirely at the convenience mart where Kevin Smith worked. The Blair Witch Project was shot over an eight-day period in a Maryland State Park. Do some research on El Mariachi and discover how Robert Rodriguez made a big splash with very little cash. What we’re saying is film sets are costly to build – use what already exists.
In this case, the “F” stands for friends and family. They can hold lighting, act in the background, or even have access to a library, college, or courthouse. Local theater is filled with people looking for opportunities of their own. Get out there and find those willing to help. Even if it’s only for a few hours a week.
Be Kind, Courteous, and Considerate
You aren’t in the film industry yet. Nevertheless, it doesn’t hurt to act like a professional. If the local tavern is letting you shoot a scene by their pool table, don’t disrupt patrons or workers if you can help it. If you do manage to score an incredible location – perhaps a police station or grocery store – act like a boy scout. That means when you leave, it’s as if you were never there. Who knows? You may even get an actual police officer to play a police officer in the film.
Size Doesn’t Matter
Full-length feature films can be costly. In the past, film alone would give independent filmmakers pause. Now that everything is digital, that isn’t as much of a concern. But if you’re trying to make a movie while working 40 hours a week and getting home in time for dinner with your family, you (along with everyone helping you) may begin to experience fatigue. Can you still tell your story in a short film? Give it consideration.
There’s Still More To Do
A week or two of shooting through rain, wind, or 90-degree temperatures. Skipping breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Working morning, noon, and night. Missing soccer games, hanging out with your friends, or letting the laundry pile up. But you finally have the final shot in the digital can.
You’ll still have to wear the same flannel shirt for a few more days. Editing, mixing in film, sound effects, and more await you in the cutting room. There are several film editing software choices for both Mac and PC. They come in various bundles for various prices. Make sure you have one capable of handling what you’ll need (and a computer to run it). And make sure to build this into the overall budget.
After a few months, your film is ready. From the opening screen with your cool company name and logo to the final credits. Now what? Film Connection may be able to help with that.
Through the Film Connection Film Editing Program and Screenwriting Workshops, you’ll be paired with industry experts in professional settings. These mentors can show you everything from setting up lights, to dealing with actors, to selling your script to Hollywood. Even if you already have a film ready to go, you may learn something new to improve what you already have.
After all, even summer blockbusters need the occasional reshoot. Jaws, Mad Max: Fury Road, and Back To The Future are just a few heavy hitters that went under the knife after, and even during, shooting. So you can too.
Not to that point yet? Haven’t even written a screenplay, outline, or treatment yet? We have a plan for that, too. Meeting remotely twice a week in the Film Connection for Screenwriting Workshop, you’ll discuss plot, theme, character development, dialogue, and everything else that goes into a “Killer Script.” You’ll also learn how to secure an agent, shop your script, and get your WGA membership.
The only thing we won’t do is guarantee that your film will be picked up by a production company or acquired by a producer or director. But we will give you the tools you need to create a finished product you can call your own. Apply today.