13 Reasons Why Filmmakers Celebrate Independence - Raindance

Two huge civic celebrations of independence are coming up: July 1st is Canada’s 152th birthday – celebrating how they threw off the yoke of the British government, and July 4th – the day all Americans celebrate how a raggle-taggle gang of upstarts disrupted the British Empire by using creativity and innovation.

The world is dominated by news of social unrest and injustice. Fears for the planet’s ecosystem dominate the press.

Let’s put the pause on this negative thought: we’re making films to make the world better, and that’s what Raindance has been championing from the start. So let’s have look at the ways indie filmmakers can celebrate their independence.

13 Reasons Why Filmmakers Celebrate Independence

1.Big business salutes disruptors

It used to be that the big companies were pretty much unassailable. Companies that provided vehicles or finance were the preserve of the powerful and rich few.

Not anymore. The birth and rise of disruptive companies like Virgin, AirB&B and UBER are each an example of successful challenges to the establishment. How can we as filmmakers challenge the establishment and get our movies made and seen?

Do this right and you will be celebrated at Wall Street and the City of London as they celebrate the likes of Amazon, Facebook, Snapchat and so on.

2.Global collaboration

The internet and its myriad of channels have created a useful way for collaborators to engage across oceans and time zones. Never before has the globe felt as much as a village as it does now.

The Raindance Postgraduate Film Degree, for example, has students writing scripts in the UK, having them shot in Scandanavia, edited on the West Coast of America and produced out of Toronto by filmmakers who have never physically met.

3.Visual storytelling is everything

If you buy into my theory that everyone today is looking for storytellers – from ad agencies to Hollywood – and agree with me that a picture says a thousand words – you will start to see where I am coming from.

Isn’t this is the ultimate opportunity for filmmakers?

4.Raising money has never been easier.

The are’s two sides to this: Digital technology has made movie-making cheaper. And secondly – international film tax-rebate programmes have made finance easier to get.

That’s why I am presenting the Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking masterclass in London this year.

It’s also why we at Raindance praise the independence independent film brings.

5.Festivals are the new theratrical

It’s true! Distributors, film sales agents and filmmakers flock to festivals to gain the type of exposure you need to make your film stand out in the crowded marketplace. That’s why we founded Raindance Film Festival.

6.New ways to shake the money tree

Anyone with skilful use of social media can raise money outside the film industry. That’s really the true definition of the words Independent Filmmaker.

In other words, like our revolutionary American forbears over a quarter millenium ago, filmmakers need not rely on cash from the government tit of public funding. It really is a revolutionary idea to be able to celebrate one’s independence – free from the constraints money from public office brings.

Build your social media. Create interest in you and your work. And learn how to shake the money tree.

7. 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 `Mubi  – not only to get seen but to earn money as well. Can I plug the Raindance YouTube channel here?

7. New visions of collaboration

It’s taken a quarter century, but Raindance has finally figured out that a single ‘vertical’ doesn’t work anymore.

Look at this chart of the Raindance eco-system and see if there is a version of this you can create for your own career, your own company, or for your film (by integrating different media and merchandise for example.

Celebrate Independence

9. 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.

10. 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!

11. 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 provides interesting information and stories, and earn the owners money.

12. Self-distribution

The beauty of the internet also means that filmmakers can now sell directly 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.

Then there is Netflix which is soaring past 100 million subscribers in 40 countries. Now filmmakers can try and figure out how to use VoD sales projections in their film finance packages.

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

Everyone is screaming for content. The traditional distribution platforms of TV stations, webcasters and movie theatres are all looking for movies. They are joined by the internet powerhouses of Youtube, Vimeo and now Netflix and Amazon Studios. They’re all looking for content or product. The trick is, of course, to monetize one’s content at an amount greater than the production budget.


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.

Come on everyone. Shelve your regrets. Celebrate independence.
More importantly: Let’s Make Movies!

Have I forgotten anything? You can always comment below



Photo Credit David Martinez / BIFA 2018

Few people know more filmmakers and screenwriters than Elliot Grove. Elliot is the founder of Raindance Film Festival (1993) and the British Independent Film Awards (1998). He has produced over 700 hundred short films and five feature films: the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead (2006), Deadly Virtues (2013), AMBER (2017), Love is Thicker Than Water (2018) and the SWSX Grand Jury Prize winner Alice (2019). He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance BREXiT trailer 2019

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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