Isn’t it every girl’s dream to be a movie starlet, walk the red carpet at a film festival (in a fabulous dress, ’natch) and talk about how starring in a critically acclaimed indie film has been a life-changing experience? Imagine how thrilling would it be, after years of hard work, to finally share your directorial debut with an eager audience? Earlier this summer, I talked to the cast and crew of Beat Down about their experience making an indie film. Recently, I caught up with the Founder and Executive Director of the Female Eye Film Festival, Leslie Ann Coles, who offered invaluable advice on how to stick with it and follow your indie filmmaking dreams.
1. Start Small
Many filmmakers come to the Female Eye Film Festival with short films that had originally been written as feature-length works. Their creators didn’t have the funding, so developed a mini-version of their idea. It’s a good strategy: by just getting your work out there — making short films, working on other people’s productions — you will become more adept at working in the industry. The important thing is to get out there. This time around, it might be a three- to five-minute film — but next time it might be your feature-film debut. It’s about diligence; this industry is not for the faint of heart.
One of the best ways to meet people in the film industry is by attending international film festivals. Many festivals offer industry panels that give you a chance to meet funders, distributers and decision-makers. It’s not so much about schmoozing as it is about introducing yourself to the right people in the industry. The Female Eye Film Festival offers a script development program where writers have a chance to hear their screenplays being read, get feedback on their writing from industry members and meet people who can help facilitate their productions. It’s really about relationships: knowing people in the industry and coming to events like these.
3. Choose the Right People
Surround yourself with people who believe in your vision and are eager to help you achieve it. Choose these people wisely, because filmmaking is a long process. From development to script writing to production and post-production, this is your family for at least a year or two. It is imperative that the people you surround yourself with really support what you’re doing and will wholeheartedly get behind your project.
4. Actors: Choose Projects Wisely
If you’re an actor and you’re not affiliated with a union, choose your projects wisely. In this digital age, you never know where your work will end up. If you’re looking to build your résumé there are some great resources for actors, including: Mandy.com and the Canadian Film Centre. It’s extremely beneficial to become a member of ACTRA, because they will protect you, you’ll get paid work and they offer many workshops and opportunities to meet industry folks.
5. Just Make Your Film
If you’re really keen to become an indie filmmaker than just go out and make your film. The only way to show your work is to actually produce it; talking about doing it simply doesn’t cut it. Take action. Start the treatment, develop the script, rent the camera equipment, start the casting process. Just take the first step toward achieving your indie filmmaking dreams — and don’t ever look back.
Monique Lahey is a lifestyle host, producer and pop culture expert. For more lifestyle tips follow Monique on twitter @MoniqueLahey.