If you want to make something edgy and contemporary, and especially if you need to overcome writer’s block, scroll down the list below and see if there is anything there that helps. I wrote this out in a frenzy the other night, and sent it to Damjan Bogdanovich, a Raindance original since 1998. Damjan has worked with me on website, festival programming and occasional Stella consumption tests. Here is his response, and then my list:

“Elliot, I realize that the point about being wanky needs to be clarified, and so do the points about using graphics etc because they can sometimes appear wanky if used for the sake of just doing it.”

“It is also worth noting that dialogue (including even the occasional monologue) can be exciting and surprising too. Think Todd Solondz, if you want an extreme example. It needs to be pruned so that it’s not saying ‘its always good to do this, never good to do that…”

And I would have to agree.

And remember, this is just My List. Why don’t you send me your list, or your response to this list to me personally, at elliot@raindance.co.uk

Here are the main points for making it huge and winning awards.

1. Find a hook

Be vague, ie: Arty

2. Make it three cornered

Love triangles titilate and become festival darlings. Read our Director of Programming’s article on “How To Fake Being An Indie Auteur” for more tips

3. Deal somehow with sexual confusion/identity

The more troubled, sexually, your main characters are the more likely you will be considered deep and important.

4. Get some named actors in your film

When you do, get them to do something they have never done before on screen i.e. get killed somehow like they have never had before. it will help attract them to your project.

5. Get a fabulous press kit

The tried and true way to get noticed is to get lots of pictures of you directing, of your actors doing things that are very extreme, and moving ie: no still life (there is already an indietip on press kits on this website. But I am not going to spoonfeed the link to you, other than to say its under the producers section).

6. Shoot it in an unique way

Tarantino used lots of ECU’s coupled with wide shots. Or how about Christopher Doyle’s work on 2046, Happy Together and Dumpling. (Now remember, if you run across a name that doesn’t ring the proverbial bell, then you need to go to http://imdb.com and punch the persons name in!)

Find your own filmmaking and storytelling style. Remember always: Its not the story, it’s the telling of the story!

7. Develop a festival strategy

Try and get it into the majors. This means you are going to have to do some heavy networking with the programmers.

8. Develop a website that tracks the making of the movie

In the old days they’d have called this the DVD extras. Now you need a website with all the bits and pieces.

9. Use lots of aftereffects shots

Create ambiance and enhance production values with these shots. Prepare a notebook with all your sketches and details notes, a bit like an architect might use when jotting down ideas for a major skyscraper. When asked questions about the mood and atmosphere of your film you will have something to refer to.

10. Use some animation

All your new films should contain an element of animation even if it is drawing on the screen ie: dotted lines in Old Boy

11. Never be wanky

Self-indulgence is a killer. Yes I know, this is contradictory. But hey! I have to try! Remember what they say in Hollywood: Joggers Jog, Wankers Wank, Doers Do. If any of you can find out how you can get paid for jogging and wanking, let me know. I will be very rich!

12. Get some great artwork for the poster/onesheet/dvd cover

A great campaign image goes a long way to selling your film. The Blair Witch Project had fantastic art work, no matter how inconsequential you found the film.

13. Terrific sound is a must

Enough said.

14. Get an amazing musical score

It doesnt need to be songs – consider sound track to the Blair Witch – it was a heartbeat – barely audible.

15.Compensate for so-called improvisational scripts

Improvised scripts are the bane of the industry and of most film festivals. if you don’t write a traditional script, then write a detailed shot list, plan for the scene, the shoot etc. Mike Figgis wrote Timecode on musical score staves.

16. Be as visual as possible

Words – talking heads – are the curse of independent film. Try and say it without words. A picture, a moving picture, has got to be worth a thousand words.

17. Move the camera around

Beware static shots

Can you think of anything else? Send me an email elliot@raindance.co.uk

I have written two books, one on screenwriting, and one on lo-to-no budget filmmaking. Go to our store and look at them. If you like them and buy them through Raindance we get 0.38 pence commission per book!

My live classes are:
Weekend:     Write and Sell the HOT Script
Weekend:    
Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking
5 Evenings:  Filmmaker’s Foundation Certificate
5 Evenings   Writer’s Foundation Certificate

Fade Out

Want to get noticed by a filmmaker? Just say, with conviction: “I really loved your work.” And be prepared to follow up with specific scenes and references which will demonstrate you have seen and studied their film.

You will have a friend for life.

Hey. And I’m still learning.

Happy Filmmaking.

 

About 

Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over 700 hundred short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006, Deadly Virtues in 2013 and AMBER in 2017. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance trailer 2017

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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