There once was a 22 year old living in his first apartment with his fiancé. He was 1 of 8,000 people living in the town of DuBois, PA.
Each weekday, he clocked into his day job at 7am at the headquarters of Goodwill Industries of North Central PA. For eight hours he would design graphics, print banners, and then at 3:30pm, he'd clock out. For forty hours a week he did this and every two weeks he got a paycheck that would allow him to pay his bills, sleep under a roof, and take his fiancé out to the handful of restaurants in the small town.
Millions of people do this, no biggie, right? Except he made a feature length movie at the same time.
Perhaps you're a filmmaker far away from Hollywood or anywhere that would allow for steady production jobs that could earn you a livable wage, i.e. DuBois, PA. You have rent to pay, groceries, toothpaste, a bunch of shit that requires a steady income.
I was fortunate enough to snag a full time media services position where I live, but not before I loaded logs into bulldozers in the middle of the woods and haggled people to buy Old Navy cards. Gotta get that money somehow and unless you're shooting weddings, professions with cameras are hard to come by in a lot of smaller areas.
But this micro budget approach to films could also be applied to city grinders as well. Bottom line is, day jobs eat up a lot of time - like the time that could be spent on that feature film or web series that you want to make.
Here's how I overcame that stress bomb and completed the feature survival drama Blood On The Leaves:
As an independent filmmaker, I've often found myself on set in a zombified state, running on Mt. Dew fumes, freezing cold, and directing... myself... with a script that I wrote... at a location that I booked... and then rebooked... for free.
Now if you've ever been in this situation, you are certainly familiar with that curious twinge in the back of your exhausted, creative mind (and you also know that "free" means "paying for pizza and gas out of your own pocket to get people to agree to be there"). We ask ourselves,"Why the hell are we doing this?" Yes, we are talking to ourselves, but we are not crazy. It's a valid question. Tonight's freezing, caffeine-induced coma of a shoot probably shaved two years off of your life, and for what? Countless hours of staring at render bars? Fourteen likes on Facebook? There's no Oscar for Most Pieces of Hawaiian Pizza Consumed By A Guy You Whom Just Taught How To Adjust The Light Stand. The answer, we soon realize as we barely stay on our feet, is that we love to do it. And then we're on to the next take.
It is way easier to just tell your friends about a movie idea and then go on with your life than it is to give that idea a life of its own. Last year, my producing partner Craig Inzana, whom I am currently producing our first feature length film Blood On The Leaves with, and I embarked on a 4-month production of a 70 minute web series. It is titled Blue Card - a crime drama in 7 parts about a hitman. You can watch it here. In the end, our series premiered to a packed audience and went on to be picked up for online distribution; but as they say, it's all about the journey.
Here are the top ten things that I learned from the trenches of true independent filmmaking. This will be helpful if you plan to deal with volunteers with limited experience and working with little to no budget at all.