10 Reasons Independent Filmmakers Can Be Thankful 2012

As our American filmmaking colleagues sit down to Thanksgiving dinner with all the trimmings, over here in Europe we filmmakers and screenwriters watch the American Thanksgiving festivities with bemusement. What originally a celebration of survival has turned into something of a circus, with Black Friday shopping sprees.

Filmakers the world over can pause for reflection on the fourth Thursday of November. Here are ten reasons why:

1.  There’s never been a better time to make movies

Everyone is screaming for content. TV stations, webcasters and movie theatres are all looking for movies – or content 0r product. The trick is, of course, to monetise one’s content at an amount greater than the production budget.

2. New super lightweight cameras

Not only are the new electronic cameras small, but the image quality is sublime. My guess is that a third of the movies we screened this year at Raindance were shot on cameras so small they literally fit onto your palm (if not your cell phone). Add onto that, they are super cheap to own – opening up an moonlighting career as a camera owner-operator.

3. Phones and tablets – the new cinema screens

Board any commuter train at rush hour in the UK and you will see commuter after commuter with their noses buried deep in their hand-held devices watching everything from the news, sports and movies. What’s great about this is that it allows filmmakers to push their movies out to new audiences through iTunes, Youtube and Distrify – not only to get seen but to earn money as well.

4. Super small projectors

New small projectors can be carried easily in a backpack and can project from your cell or tablet using battery power. Now you can set up a screening anywhere you happen to be: in a park or a pub. Get some great content and a kicking sound system and the worlds your theatrical oyster.

5. New visions of collaboration

New technological advances have sparked new collaborations between artists working in different genres. Check out Montrealer Vincent Morisset’s work and marvel at the possibilities. It’s the new frontier where few have ventured yet. Be a collaborative pioneer!

6. Second screen

Speaking about frontiers, what about making apps that go along with your movies? Dubbed ‘second screen‘ which means a second screen, like a cell phone or tablet that you watch along with your TV programme to enhance the experience and interact. Programme something exciting and your content will zip to the head of acquisition director’s shopping list. Here are 5 second screen apps that are shaping social TV.

7. Social TV

TV isn’t dead, it’s become social TV. Apps and interactive features that allow you to fiddle with your remote, your cell or notepad are exploding on the market. Can you be the first to integrate this into a narrative movie or documentary? For example, BBC current affairs series Free Speech incorporates a Twitter based panelist approval platform called the Power Bar. Watch and tweet in your approval or disapproval of the panelist’s comments. Figure out how to integrate these features into a dramatic storyline and you (and your banker) will have much to be thankful for.

8. Gaming

The gaming industry has developed storytelling to the point where it offers viable alternatives for filmmakers. Not only has the gaming industry’s animation techniques spawned technology useful to filmmakers, so too has gaming influenced storytelling. Watch. Play. Learn!

9. Social media

Thank the gods for social media. Loathe it or love it, social media has now enabled anyone with the ability to tell a story, to be able to sell a story. Check out Ryan Koo’s Nofilmschool.com or Philip Bloom’s excellent blog, or screenwriter William C. Martell’s scriptsecrets.net. Each of these blogs provide interesting information and stories, and earn the owners money.

10. Self distribution

The beauty of the internet also means that filmmakers can now sell direct to the public. Earn money from ads served against your movie on Youtube, like the British filmmaker, screenwriter and entrepreneur extraordinaire Dave Reynolds with his micro budget genre masterpiece Zomblies now earning enough from Youtube to pay a salary of a production assistant. If you want to see a Who’s Who of Youtube’s money makers, check them out here.

It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s just too damn tough out there in the indie film world. Tough it may be. But there is much to be thankful for.

Have I forgotten anything? You can always comment below.

Elliot Grove

About Elliot Grove

Elliot Grove founded Raindance as a thought experiment: Can you make a film with no money, no training and no experience, he asked?

When people like his first intern Edgar Wright started making movies he started the Raindance Film Festival to celebrate their work in 1993, the British Independent Film Awards in 1998, and Raindance.TV in 2007.

Elliot has produced over 150 short films, and 5 feature films. He has written eight scripts, one of which is currently in pre-production. His first feature film, TABLE 5 (1997) was shot on 35mm and completed for a total of £278.38. He teaches writers and producers in the UK, Europe, Japan and America. In 2006 he produced the multiple-award winning The Living and the Dead.

In 2013 he relaunched the production arm: Raw Talent with the cult film director Ate de Jong. Their first venture was the psychological thriller Deadly Virtues: Love.Honour.Obey. finished late 2013.

In the summer of 2014 Raindance Film Festival barked on a groundbreaking tour of Britain: 10 films in six cities with the Festival Screening Partner, VUE Cinemas.

He has written three books which have become industry standards: RAINDANCE WRITERS LAB 2nd Edition (Focal Press 2008), Raindance Producers' Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking (Focal Press 2013) and 130 PROJECTS TO GET YOU INTO FILMMAKING (Barrons 2009). He was awarded a PhD in 2009 for services to film education. His first novel THE BANDIT QUEEN is scheduled for publication next year.

Elliot teaches several courses at Raindance including Lo To No Budget Filmmaking and Writer's Foundation Certificate

Read articles by Elliot Grove.

The brilliant artist, filmmaker and photographer Rankin has included Elliot in his fascinating, shocking and entertaining book, F*K Y*U. We have one in the office that amuses and shocks everyone who looks at it. Get a copy. It will delight your friends

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