I recently spoke to a friend (non pro) about the state of making independent movies and how difficult it is to come up with any capital. She laughed and said, “Can’t you just fundraise or crowdsource, or ask investors?” I love friends that aren’t in the business. It’s questions like that one and some of these, “Oh, you’re an actor? What have you been in that I might have seen,” or this one, “Are you a director? Can I see them on Netflix?” To the outside world, it does seem logical to just go out and get some money and make your movie. But, in my experience, making movies for the love or passion of it, is usually funded by me or the free time my friends and colleagues can spare. The money isn’t really the right question to ask. I think the question that is important is; Why do you want to make this particular movie and at this time?
In my humble origins of being a director, my first film was solely for the pleasure to have written a story that I translated into a visual story, hopefully with enough of a story you could follow along and people can enjoy. The crew were mostly inexperienced friends and colleagues that wanted the same thing I wanted. The movie was finished and only shown once, but never distributed. The next project of note was the 52 Films/52 Weeks: A Year of Filmmaking Project. That happened because my two partners and I wanted to make a big splash and garner some attention. We had no money at the time, but we had so many professionals, that we did not know, who donated their time to help out with this crazy endeavor. We even got meetings with HBO, VH-1, and F/X. Nothing came of those meetings, but I got some work from it.
I was approached by a producer who saw my work from 52 Films/52 Weeks: A Year of Filmmaking, and was hired to helm a western in Santa Fe, New Mexico with a 20-day shooting schedule and a budget of $350,000. To go from $0 budget films to a feature we were all getting paid for, was a dream realized. Or, was it? More money does not necessarily mean a better movie. And as many fires that my 1st AD and cinematographer had to put out on a daily basis, I still found it a rousing success. The next part of the story would be great, if I were to have been hired to direct a film written by Aaron Sorkin, or starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Cate Blanchett. But, alas that was not to be.
Why do I make movies? I make movies because I have something to say, something to tell, something to show. My connection to my art is through the audience. I have come a long way from my early days of making short films, but I have come full circle to the reason I write a story, plan it, shoot, and finish it.
I am a filmmaker through and through. Only time will tell if someone will be in the theatre watching what I have made with the help of friends and colleagues.