Very, Very Independent Filmmaking – Getting on With It…


“If it can be written or thought, it can be filmed” – Stanley Kubrick.

I am suddenly very, very busy. Which is good, it’s good busy. Although it also means that I have to prioritize, something I am appalling at, quite frankly.

But being busy means that I am being productive, and in my world of filmmaking, productive means film!

This weekend I will be filming a short, with a couple of chums. Something I did not write, nor am I directing. This time around I am taking part as the cinematographer, which makes such a pleasant change I just might do it again! As long as I don’t embarrass myself that is.

But really, this is one of my favorite parts of filmmaking for me, the taking part part.…while hopefully, and skillfully, avoiding the embarrassing myself part. Although that is usually achieved more by luck than skill.

Filmmaking is such a completely collaborative art that we must expect to be fluid in our participating roles. Sometimes writer, sometimes director, sometimes producer or DP. It’s all part of the fun, trying on new hats.

Its also a brilliant way of learning another vital part of the filmmaking process, all roles being, by the nature of filmmaking, absolutely vital.

You are far more likely to actually do something if you are open to the idea of collaborating, and that doesn’t just mean getting a group of people to make your stuff, it also means helping others make theirs.

What others, I hear you ask, perfectly on cue.

What others indeed. Well, ‘others’ could mean friends and family whom you have conned into helping you on your projects in the past. But it could also mean fellow filmmakers, met through your own work, on other peoples sets, or through networking groups, online etc. Basically you can come across like minded pioneers of very independent filmmaking all over the place. The trick is, once you find them, accidentally or not, whatever you do, don’t forget them.

Keep track of them, what they are doing, if they need help.

Keep in touch with them, online is the easiest, but text or call them too, without seeming too stalker like of course.

When you do meet them, get their number, email etc and follow up with a, “it was lovely to meet you” email….this is not stalking, this is being smart.

If you work on someone else’s project, sort of like I am doing this weekend, then tell your posse of filmmakers about it, see if they want to join in, you might be surprised by the response, and if they aren’t really interested, then that’s one less for your christmas email.

Don’t make them your best friend. You are not looking for soul mates, you are looking for work mates…big difference, for them too! You can be friends, but don’t confuse their enthusiasm with your project or filmmaking in general with enthusiasm for you personally…..

And lastly but not leastly, when you do get them on set, yours or other peoples, treat them with the respect they deserve, feed them, water them and don’t keep them hanging around unnecessarily….give them something valuable to do….share your love of filmmaking by….sharing. A much over looked skill. Especially in filmmaking. If you are paying everyone scale, then ignoring them because your ‘inner sanctum’ team is more important is kind of acceptable, but if everyone is giving up their time for free and a few donuts, then you had better make them feel like they are vital to the project, otherwise you’ll never hear from them again and quite rightly!

So now I am prepping for the weekend’s filming, tests shoots, shot lists, helping round up extras etc. And I am really, really looking forward to Sunday at the ball park in Sherman Oaks.

It’s been far, far too long…..


Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

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