Let’s get serious and very grownup for a minute or two. You really want to make it as a filmmaker, correct? And you want to make enough money so you can do it again, and again, correct? And you’ve been reading about all the negative press in the news lately about how difficult it is for independent filmmakers, correct? Here are the 7 essentials filmmakers need to have in order to make it in the new world of filmmaking and distribution:

1. Screenplay

No screenplay, no movie. Full stop.
The first job of any independent filmmaker trying to break in is to learn to identify or create the great screenplay. Analyse the first movies of some now famous writer/directors and you will see that what made their films great was not the filmmaking and directing techniques, but the screenplay.

Have a look at this list of 50 All Time Great Debut Features and you will see what I mean about screenplay.

 2. Money

You will need some money. But not as much as you might think. Our Lo-To-No Budget philosophy has completely changed the face of film production in the UK. Even the UK Film Council and Film London have finally capitulated and have cloned us in their Microwave programmes. Never mind that they nicked the name from Nollywood and the concept from Raindance. We were going to call the lawyers – but hey! It means a couple more low budget features get made in the UK each year and we think that is good.
Here are 25 Low Budget Films. Have a look. I think you might be surprised at how little money was used.

3. Telephone

Excellent interpersonal skill are required of anyone trying to make it. Learning the essential techniques of pitching and the rules of salesmanship are basic requirements if you have any hope at all of making it in the movie business.

4. No

No one says ‘no’ in the film industry. Here is how they say ‘no’ in the film industry. Learning how to stand up for yourself, and learning to draw the line and what is expected by you of others are key lessons you must learn. And learn fast before you get trampled.

5. Savvy

Savvy is an old Saxon word for ‘good common sense’. Savvy has never been more important to a filmmaker than now.

The fluctuations and change in the industry are turbulent, and are sweeping away the weak-hearted and the savvy-less. Old rules and business models are being swept away faster and faster. New business and distribution models are being erected in record breaking time. It was on Februray 14, 2005 that the co-founders of youtube.com registered their url. And since then, film making and film distribution has changed completely.

Learn how to respect the traditions of the past, and discover how to apply those lessons to the changing landscape of the future.

6. Energy

The old maxim of: ‘There is no life after you film’ remains unchanged. The more energy and time you have to lavish on your dream and your career, the more likely it is to happen for you. And if you can manage your personal relationships simultaneously with pouring 110% of your time and energy into your career, you will also be very happy!

7. Talent

Moving cast and crew from location to location costs money. If you can pull off a limited location story and make it look and feel cinematic, you will have what the film industry calls talent. Because your limited location films will also be made low budget and stand a much higher chance of recoupment and profit than their big budget colleagues.

If you look at the Raindance Top 10 lists – you will see that most of these films are limited location low budget films.

Enjoy, and 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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