Having watched over 600 feature films a year as the Head of Programming of the Raindance Film Festival, Suzanne Ballantyne continues with Part 2 of her observations and advice on how to Fake Being An Indie Auteur
It is not enough to have made the definitive indie auteur film. That is a mere ten percent of the equation. The hard graft revolves around getting noticed.
The entry-level auteur must not venture anywhere near standard PR. His/her career is far too fragile to be left in the hands of hard nosed professionals. Some degree of subtlety is required for navigating the blatantly self- promotional road ahead. The way forward includes blogging, a certain degree of dalliance on my space – although the indie auteur should not stoop to having his own page, that should be reserved for the two lead characters in his film.
Far better that he should instead be talked about by others. This can be achieved by posting short daily production diaries on his blog, which should be slightly irreverent and may, due to time constraints, occasionally appear in haiku format.
Sound roll camera
Action can’t act, cut print drink
drink bad day away
He should engage in live web chats, appear sporadically on video forums, post an interview with himself on You Tube, network at loft parties on Second Life and hold intimate screenings of either his rushes, work-in-progress or finished film at the home of a famous new friend – ideally a grungy rocker who frequently appears off his face in the tabloids. The indie auteur is after all creating brand awareness for his burgeoning career and by associating with indie luminaries in parallel art forms the brand of the wannabe can only strengthen.
12. Getting The Word Out.
Do not wait for the public to figure out what your film is or isn’t . Tell them first or rather, tell a few trusted friends and get them to pass the word along, again taking full advantage of the power of the internet. Gently suggest your work be compared to that of the great modern artists. Your single twenty minute, opening tracking shot could be compared to the stark genius of Picasso’s line drawings, the ‘look’ of your film to early Schnabel and your ‘vision’ to an almost Warholian reverence for the ordinary.
13. Business Cards.
Under no circumstances.There’s no way any self-respecting indie auteur should appear to have put such forethought into his career. When asked for one he reaches into his obscure festival branded shoulder bag and tears off a scrap of whatever asking the recipient if he would mind lending a space of his back for him to scribble on. Or try this more advanced tactic, simply utter – ‘You can reach me through Paul at Gold View’. Few phrases command as much respect as this immediate ring fence approach. The unspoken message is Paul shelters me from the hoi poiloi. This, coupled with the lofty pretentiousness of the Asian Sales Agent –you are after all,the director of their only English language project, and you have virtually catapulted yourself into the land of must-have auteur du jour.
If you do have friends use them. Get them involved in your film. If you don’t make some. They must be like-minded and have skills that you as an indie auteur could use.
Musicians who can provide music rights- free are excellent. Even better if they have some following of their own – they’ll get the music press talking about your film and perhaps some free publicity. They may even turn out to support you and add to your screening figures.
Get other friends on board – editors, lighting people,dop’s. They just need to passionately believe in you.
Encourage them to make their own films in your style- help them out and call yourselves a collective based in some place exotic like Manila. All of you get together and submit to festivals. Festivals are a little bit in awe of collectives.
15. Learn To Flirt
And get good at it since you’ll be doing it a lot. Flirt equally with men and women. Blur the lines sexually. Flirt with junior programmers, budding journalists and bouncers at parties. Flirt with the big directors and get them interested in you. After all it can’t hurt to have proven auteurs like Abbas Kiarostami,Jafar Panahi or one of the Makmahlbafs put in a good word for you. When you approach them at a festival party they will assume you are an equally important director and be surprisingly nice to you. Look them in the eye and whisper mentor under your breath.
You should be championing workers rights.Form alliances with political groups, show up at meetings and make vague references to them in your film. Not only will they give you credibility, they’ll also help get the numbers up at your first screening. If you have any kind of an addiction or neurosis now is the time to join a support group – your fellow junkies will be rooting for you.
After successfully flirting with a junior programmer at a minor festival you will find your film is included in the program. By following all of the points above you should have a good turnout at your screening and other festival invitations will follow. Don’t concern yourself with the premiere status that some of the bigger festivals require – submit a re edited version with a new title and a new intro and outro shot on your mobile.
If you are asked to sit on a panel do so. Again, make sure you look the part. It may be a cliché but aviators are still suggestive of a certain je ne sais quoi.The panel photographs can appear in any number of high profile trade magazines. A picture of you looking suitably inscrutable could appear on the back pages of Variety or Screen International. Say nothing on the panel but if asked a direct question, disagree with everything.
Carry the torch of another indie auteur. Say you are carrying on the work of Jim Jarmusch before he lost the plot.
Since you are going to be asked about what you’re working on next map out your next 3 projects. This is easily done by suggesting that your present film is part of a trilogy. And start dropping the names of well known actors who’ve agreed to work with you next time around.