There is nothing better for the arts than a good old fashioned recession. It forces everyone to look at existing structures and due process. And the dead wood and stale ideas get thrown away, leaving a vacuum where new, fresh and better talent can thrive.

Of course there is pain caused by the inevitable belt tightening.

Get over the feeling that this recession is going to be pleasant. Far from it. And as the economy jolts and sputters, as companies all around drop like flies, remember that when times get really tough, some of the best opportunities exist for independent filmmakers and artists with vision, passion and stamina.

Here’s 5 things that you can do to turn the present economy to your advantage.

1 – Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels

Kate Moss’ quip about jibes about her diet, or lack of has a special connotation in a wintry economic climate.

Limited budgets, or even no-budgets should not be considered as an impediment to success.

Most filmmakers thinking of how to film 10,000 camels racing down Piccadilly view it as a problem that can only be solved with a big pot of gold.

If you flip the problem around and filmmaking instead becomes a series of challenging creative opportunities.  No problem should be outside your scope.

2. Make it with what you have not with what you want

I meet so many filmmakers who say to me:
“I’ve got half of a 10 mil budget”.

When I tell them I can easily trim half the budget, I am told that the half they have is the second half of the budget. They just need the first half – and they need it first.

Of course what happens then is that the filmmakers become dealmmakers and not filmmakers.

Get some money together, even if it’s a small amount, and then shoot it cost effectively and put value for money on the screen. Show us all how innovative and resourceful you are. After all, necessity is the mother of invention.

3. If it ain’t on the page it ain’t on the stage

It goes without saying that an excellent screenplay has got to be in place, irregardless of the budget, before you start shooting.

And a script can be written yourself, without any money.

Here’s the script that everyone is looking for: A script with a bold, fresh and innovative feel brimming with ideas that no one else has, but which everyone wants.

4. Films can be commercial successes and box office failures

Lets say you make a film and sell it to the German distributor for a hundred thou. Lets say your movie budget was ninety thou. Lets say the German distributor loses most of their money on your film in Germany. Technically speaking, you are in profit, but the German distributor has lost their shirt.

People in the industry understand this, and will view your film a commercial success even if the German distributor had a box office failure with your film.

5. The new distribution and social media

Filmmakers are divided into two camps: those who loathe and abhor social media, who would never be caught dead with a Twitter account, and those who embrace it.

It is a misconception that  social media is free. It is true that the software in most cases is free, but the time required is not.

It is also true that successful filmmaker today tend to be those with a social media presence built up around their film projects and/or their career. Start with social media basics and get tooled up.

Closing Credits

The bottom line is that recessions are really painful. It is also true that in a recession more people tend to visit cinemas and watch films at home. It’s a cheap date, and helps take one’s mind off the depressing news headlines.

As far as you and your career goes, there are many ways you can benefit from a recession, as long as you don’t lose your head, and as long as you keep the momentum for your career building.

About 

Photo Credit Jay Brooks / BIFA 2015

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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