Put down the Christmas cake! Make movies!
There’s no reason to delay your movie. Move from amateur to professional. Stop making excuses. Stop blagging the blag. Get off your couch and start doing something meaningful! You don’t need no film school! You’ve got the Christmas Filmmakers Toolkit!
1. Know your plan and make it realistic
There’s no point in telling your friends that you are going to make a film, or to tell everyone you are going to make it your way and reinvent the industry. It just ain’t that simple.
Try doing what Shane Meadows did when he was starting out and make a series of short films – one a week – until you get really good. I asked him what the budget was for a short of his that we screened at Raindance Film Festival in 1997. His answer? £1.69. The main actor was mildly diabetic and was having a sugar low, and the cost of the cheese sandwich he needed was £1.69.
Good businessmen make business plans. Why don’t good filmmakers make business plans, too? It doesn’t need to be complicated or extreme. Just attainable. Bite-sized chunks or even chunkettes are far more sensible than signing up to an imaginary project so large and unrealistic that not even your top trust fund baby filmmaker could pull it off.
I’m not bragging here, but I recently found a business plan I did a few months before the first Raindance Film Festival in 1993. To my surprise, Raindance today is pretty much how I planned it. Have a peek and see for yourself how my plan worked out.
2. Get a screenplay and make sure it’s great
How often do we say it? “How did they get the money to make that movie?” Here are the three basic ingredients of filmmaking success: Script. Script. Script.
We spend nearly half our teaching focus at Raindance on screenplay. It is that important. Until you get a script, you are a nobody.
How do you know what to write about? Here are 8 Questions Writers Must Ask When Developing Audience Profiles
John Truby has become one of America’s most influential screenwriting analysts. In 2010 his 25 years of study finally paid off, and he is now visited by a stream of top story and development executives from the biggest production companies in the world, including Warner Bros and Pixar.
3. Get your social media going
In this day and age, there is no excuse for not developing your own social media profile. Your blog, Twitter, Facebook and Youtube accounts are essential ingredients to filmmaking success.
It’s always been about the people that watch or read your stuff. This is how you get people to watch and read your stuff in the age of social media. Just do it.
Another great way to build your lists and your audience is to comment on relevant articles. Have you commented on this article?
4. Get some money
There are 10 ways you can finance your film. Each investor you approach will want to know what’s in it for them, and how you can de-risk their investment. The more you can learn about the flow of money and the different ways you can finance your film, the better off you will be.
You can get big tax inducements from British taxpayers who invest in your project. You don’t need to be a British taxpayer to access this money, either. Read up on the Enterprise Investment Scheme. Use the EIS risk assessment tool here.
Maybe you want to crowdfund your film. You can see how we crowdfund here.
5. Get going
Enough is enough. At some point you just need to take a deep breath and do it. You will never have enough money. You will never be totally happy with the cast and crew. You just need to take the plunge and do it. Practise makes perfect! That’s exactly what the Christmas Filmmaker’s Toolkit is all about!
6. Be submissive!
Once you’ve finished your film, it’s time to get it seen at a film festival. But what festival to choose? There are thousands around the world. Film festivals fall into 5 types or categories. To help you wade through the myriad of film festivals, here are our recommendations for the top 100 film festivals around the world.
There are 4 reasons to submit to film festivals. The main one is to get a distributor to see it and buy it. But beware of creepy people preying on naive festival newbies. Don’t fall for one of these 5 cons filmmakers fall for.
If you have made a short – here is a short film distributor list – this should save you tons of time. Read out list of the top 100 film festivals for shorts, too.
Raindance Film Festival is open for submissions until June 1st.
7. Trouble shooting
Fade Out from the Christmas Filmmaker’s Toolkit
What are you reading this for, anyway, when you could be out shooting, writing, or planning?
But wait, before you go, here are 7 things successful filmmakers eat for breakfast.