Maverick is tag given to people that are seen as unconventional and independent, and do not think or behave in the same way as other people do. There are many aspiring indie movie makers out there that take a maverick approach their craft and end up falling short of their goals. They end up wasting their talent, time, and money trying to run before they can walk.
Striving to be a maverick movie maker is cool so long as you understand what it takes to succeed in the indie film business. “Know the rules before you break them” is a great saying to drive home the point. You can’t make a splash in the movie business if you do not know where the water is. If you’re the type of person that does not like listen to take good advice or is a know-it-all, then there is no benefit in continuing reading this. If you’re the type of person that is open-minded to new information then this will speak to you in a major way.
Some aspiring indie filmmakers are influenced by what they read and hear about famous filmmakers. So and so refused to compromise their creative vision and made the studio back down. That’s how they game is played in Hollywood, but not at the true independent film level. A independent filmmaker that lets their ego control their actions is doomed to fail. The cast and crew on a indie movie are not being paid enough, if they are being paid at all, to deal with a indie filmmaker that is too difficult to work with.
They will either quit or turn in lackluster efforts that will be painfully obvious to when you start to watch the footage. Independent film budgets are very tight with little wiggle room. Many times the hard money to make a indie movie comes from friends and family of the filmmaker involved. Not to compromise your creative vision when it’s absolutely necessary to finish the movie is pure insanity, not to mention totally selfish. If I personally invested money into a friend or relatives movie I would hope they would control their ego enough in order to finish the film.
I’ve never thought making a movie gives a person the creative license to waste other peoples money. Especially if that money comes from family and friends. I treat investors money like it was my own. Before you make your movie it’s a good idea to highlight scenes of your script that are most important to your overall creative vision. This is just my opinion, but I have yet to see a movie where every scene is epic. I have yet to talk to another screenwriter that told me every bit of dialogue and scene they wrote is amazing. Some dialogue and scenes are only there to keep the story moving forward. I hang out with an honest bunch of indie movie makers and we pretty much agree every movie has some filler written into it.
It could rub a unrealistic filmmaker the wrong way to think like that, but brutal honesty is great for the creative spirit. When you are breaking down your screenplay highlight scenes that are not crucial to your big picture creative vision. Those will be the first scenes to be cut down or taken out all together when time and money begin to run out during production. At the indie film level time and money always run out. Be ready to make changes to your film and creative vision if push comes to shove, which it will. During filming of my first movie Consignment I had to rewrite more than a few scenes on the spot or the movie would die right there. I do not feel I compromised my creative vision in any way by making needed changes on the set. I was able to overcome obstacles to finish the film. Isn’t finishing a film what it’s all about?
The long and short that I wanted to share with you is not to be a inflexible film snob. Sometimes the situation will demand you adapt your creative vision. Coming in with the attitude that you are flexible will help you deal with things that can kill a movie. Like an actor quitting, a difficult crew member, the lose of a location, or a equipment problem. A lot can go wrong when you are making a movie. The more open you are to not to waste energy fighting against what is and finding a fix, the better off you will be as a movie maker.
In no way does being flexible mean you will be a push over when making your film, but being a tyrant is a shortcut to failure. Wise is the indie movie maker that can find their filmmaking balance. To follow up The First Movie is the Toughest I have started writing The Filmmaker’s Mentality for a Rewarding Life. There are a lot of good life lessons I’ve learned making indie movies. If you take nothing else from what you’ve read here today, please take this, “control your ego, do not let your ego control you.” This is indie filmmakers Sid Kali typing SMASH CUT TO.
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