Making Independent Movies – The Women in Red

Making Independent Movies – The Women in Red

I spent this past weekend doing what I love to do, making a movie, with a group of people who clearly love it just as much as I.

Three days, well, actually, one day and two nights.  This was a first for me, as a director, not to be involved that much in the production.  I did help a bit, lined up a location, provided some props and recruited an amazing set designer, and provided some camera equipment.  But the logistics, the call sheets, the crew, the food, the contracts, the insurance, the wardrobe, did I mention the food, that was all out of my hands….and I loved it.

Those who know me might venture to say that I am a bit of a control freak.”I just like things done right,” would be my retort to that. But I knew the producers and I knew how devoted they were to the project and how long they had taken to get it to the point of filming, so I had every reason to feel happy about stepping away from everything except directing.

It’s a lesson I think, to be able to trust in a situation where so many things can and often do go wrong.

But the freedom that trust gives you, particularly when you are creating something that relies on so many moving parts and breathing actors is quite profound.

Making a film is not something you can easily do on your own.  Unless it’s stop motion or animation I guess.  So when you decide that you are going to make one it’s a given that you will need a team around you.  Who is part of that team is not always your choice, or even when you think it is you can’t always get who you want when you want and must depend on others for recommendations etc. So you usually end up working with people you have never met before.

But film sets are always full of people who have never worked together, as well as those who always do, so there is an unspoken kind of camaraderie that I have never found in any other place.  It’s like a family that you know you’ve always had but never met.  Without that connection, that understanding that everyone in every single job from crafty to producer is just as important as everyone else, there would be chaos.  And although chaos breeds creativity, it’s not really yearned for on a film set.

So there I was, DP at my side, surrounded by grips and MUA and wardrobe and set design and actors, lovely actors and producers and scriptys and ACs and ADs and sound guys and on and on and on.

When the lights were tweaked and the faces re-dusted and the props just so and the night quiet…the DP murmured “set” and I spoke the immortal “action.”  We all held our breath, the air sparkled with energy and we made magic happen, with a digital camera and some words cleverly written, spoken well by people lit to perfection.

Even though we were all exhausted and punch drunk by the third day, second all nighter and all a bit relieved when we were done, it took a while for people to all slope off into the morning.  We all wanted it to go on forever in a way, knowing that once we said “it’s a wrap” it would all be over and we would probably not see each other for a while, or maybe ever.  It’s kind of like when you have a baby, (I’ve had a couple) you are all thrown together, mother, midwife, nurse, doula, friend and family and for a few hours nothing matters but the baby…or the film.  Everyone assumes familiarity and trust and safety and a kind of love that exists for a reason…to create something real…together.

It’s been a while since I did that, especially the baby part.  So I would like to thank all those that took that journey with me and were all touched by the same cinematic love…now I want to do it all again this weekend…who’s with me!?

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a British writer and filmmaker living In Los Angeles.