How to succeed as an independent filmmaker

All you gotta do is…

  • Go to AFM or Cannes and ask distributors what’s selling. Then go make that kind of movie.
  • Put at least three “names” in your film. (must have a 300 or lower Starmeter on IMDb. This week, that excludes Mel Gibson, Renée Zellweger, Bruce Willis, Kate Winslet, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, George Clooney, and Nicole Kidman.)

    Production still from SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL. Paul Bickford, photographer.
    Production still from SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL. Paul Bickford, photographer.
  • Budget as much on marketing as you do on production.
  • Engage top-notch social media professionals to start and build the buzz around your film from the early stages of development all the way through the final distribution window.
  • Turn out an excellent film, of course!
  • Rinse and repeat.

That’s what I’ve heard in conversations and workshops at film festivals and filmmaker forums over the last few years.

But those steps don’t assure success. Disney, Columbia, Castle Rock, and Touchstone have all released films that lost millions of dollars despite A-list talent, top-tier writers and directors, and nearly bottomless wells of money for development, production and marketing.

Continue reading How to succeed as an independent filmmaker

How to get in the flow

roaring-rapidsYou know those times when you’re in a conversation and the next day in the shower you think of exactly the right thing you should have said? Happens to me all the time.

Last Saturday I was on a panel at the Richmond International Film Festival’s “Flow” conference. The question put to us was, “How do you get back into the creative flow when you’re stuck?” I think I blathered something inane about taking a walk. What I should have said is, “I pray.”

In our film, SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL, Brother Bob Cross confesses, “The only time I know what I’m doing is when I’m telling God I don’t know what I’m doing.” That has been my experience; especially over the last several years as I’ve been working on the film. I’m often stuck. And the cure has always been to place it in God’s hands and trust Him for the solution.

Sounds like a cliché, I know. But it is the best way I can describe my experience. Continue reading How to get in the flow

O what a night…

Last night we gathered for the world premiere of our film, SHOOTING THE PRODIGAL. Six years in the making, it is hard to describe how it felt to sit in the theater and see it on the big screen. Surreal, magical, humbling, grateful, nervous, thrilling… those are the first ones that come to mind.

I "borrowed" this photo from Mary Eldridge's Facebook post last night.
I “borrowed” this photo from Mary Eldredge’s Facebook post last night. I’m responding to a question from Jerry Williams with actors Christie Osterhus & Micah Brown, and producers Ken Roy & Heather Waters.

Andy Edmunds, Director of the Virginia Film Office, was generous in his opening remarks. He talked about the importance of the home-grown film industry, and how our project is a good example of the kind of project his office is trying to encourage: conceived, funded, developed, produced, and distributed in Virginia.

One of the biggest thrills of the evening was when we announced our first two distribution partners. Continue reading O what a night…

Communication • Media