Something’s happening to indie filmmakers and their scripts, and it’s left a bad taste in my mouth.
They’re writing incredible, award-worthy scripts and then… nothing.
No one picks it up, they have a grand total of $0 in funding and they can’t even think about casting.
And I don’t need to tell you how much that sucks.
And now we’re into November, which is kinda like pouring lemon juice on the cut.
Have you noticed how indie filmmaking is seasonal? Now it’s November, which means it’s cold, the light doesn’t hang around for long and no one’s really shooting anything.
Which is kinda scary…
Why filmmakers freak out in November
November is also the time when everything slows down in the filmmaking world. So we all stop and get a chance to reflect on the year so far.
And indie filmmakers aren’t liking what they see right now.
Let me give you a perfect example of this:
January 2018: “This year I am going to make three films”
November 2018: “Oh shit… I haven’t made any”
If you’re reading this and admitting that you’ve felt EXACTLY the same way, I feel you. And I’m pretty sure every other indie filmmaker feels it too.
Between October and November my calendar tends to get booked up with freaked-out filmmakers.
“I haven’t made a single film”
“I’ve been pushing this script since February but no one has picked it up”
“I’ve done 15 funding applications and have a grand total of $0”
Now, before things get dramatic, let’s get straight to the point and figure out how to stop that from happening to you in 2020.
Because the 20’s should be fun, free and full of cocktails (or mocktails) 🍸
Why your script is still on your laptop
(instead of the big screen)
You know that feeling. The one where it hits you that you wrote that script 6 months ago and absolutely nothing has happened since.
It’s why the #1 question filmmakers have is always ‘how do I get my film made?’
But there are a million different answers. Sorry, but Google can’t help you on this one.
Let’s fill in the gaps
We’re going right back to basics for this one. So grab your script, your notebook and a cup of tea.
Question: what’s missing from your film right now?
It’s usually one of these:
- A finished script
- A producer
If you don’t have a finished script, you need a writer.
(Or start scheduling in writing time. Make it your priority)
Gotten exactly $0 in funding? You need to research other film funds, or get a producer.
No producer in sight? Find out exactly what a producer is looking for. Bonus points if you can go all in on researching producers who have an active interest in your kind of story.
Now you can head back over to Google and look for the exact solution that your film needs.
AND to make November a lil less scary, I’m opening up my calendar again.
The first call is 11am on Monday 11th. Make it yours here (or any of the other slots, I know you’re busy)
Bring your idea/script and in 30 mins we’ll create your next steps to actually get. it. made.
How to write scripts that you can get made
(without spending 6 months in ‘development’)
I know filmmaking is stressful. And I know it’s not nice when someone calls you out.
Sorry about that.
But it’s even worse getting to November and beating yourself up for not making the films that you planned on.
So let’s deep dive into writing scripts that you can get MADE.
Question: what films do you want to make?
Are you a narrative drama kinda girl, or are you comedy all the way?
Do you love small casts or big ensembles?
How do you like to structure your films? Are you a classic three-acter or do you want to branch out into non-linear, hyperlink or circular?
Get 100% clear on it, then commit to making those films.
Question: how are you writing?
Writing is difficult.
It’s even more difficult if you’re trying to scribble ideas down into notebook margins on your morning commute, then trying to write when you come back from the office each day.
Which is why you need to take a step back, and work out exactly what you need before you put pen to paper (or, you know, hands to keyboard).
Before you go all in with the script, get the outline together.
Because knowing where you want to end up makes your life so. much. easier.
Question: what’s your aim?
This is where things get a little bit harsh.
Because I have to ask, is your aim to write period drama feature films that need a budget of $500k – $1m?
Or is your aim to make a film?
If you’re sticking to #2, and your aim is making the damn film, your script needs to reflect that.
You don’t have to be a producer to know that a sci-fi film needs a big post-production budget or a big ensemble cast takes more time, planning and money.
So if your goal is to write something you could (theoretically) make tomorrow, you have to make it easier for yourself.
Time to analyse
Be analytical about your script. How easy would it be to make?
If you want this film made in the next 6 months, it needs to be super achievable.
So you might need to rework the script slightly in order to get to that end goal of having made it.
Question: do you need to write smaller?
If you’ve analysed your script and need to make it smaller and simpler to shoot, you’re in luck.
The simplest way to make your film easier to shoot is to reduce the number of locations.
Fewer locations = fewer shooting days, fewer unit moves, lower spend.
You could also ‘kill your darlings’, as the saying goes, and cut your script down.
Shorter script = fewer shoot days, lower spend.
Go back into your script and rework it if you need to. A low budget short film can have as little as 2 locations, 1 character and be set in present day.
Bonus step: create a slate
Now I know you don’t just write films you could make tomorrow. Your ideas range from small, 1 character shorts to bigger budget features.
Which is why it’s time for you to start creating your slate.
Wondering why the hell you need a slate if you’re not a producer or production company? In a nutshell:
- so you always have something to work on
- something to pitch
- something to keep your audience interested in
If you want the full guide to creating your first slate, jump on over here
Once you have a slate full of developed projects you’ll have plenty of small, low budget shorts to make whenever you like PLUS bigger projects you can work on behind the scenes.
Not sure what your film is missing right now? I feel you.
So I’ve opened up my calendar to help you with it. Bring your script, notebook and a cup of tea. In 30 minutes we’ll have the exact plan to *actually* get your film from script to screen.
Start making your films
Or just stick with the never-ending freelance jobs