Even the most amateur filmmaker knows that making a movie is an expensive pursuit. The reason? You can’t just aim a camera at a bunch of actors and end up with a well-told story that’ll turn heads, take home awards and launch careers.
Without the combined efforts of scores of people working behind the scenes, a film of noteworthy length would never see the light of day. And right here is where one of the biggest differences between a Hollywood and indie screenwriter lies.
Hollywood assignments — scripts that are commissioned by a producer — are generally much easier to come by as the industry is comprised of a number of individual ‘working professionals’ who eke out a career writing what other people want them to write; a point I covered in the companion piece to this blog post.
Indie screenwriter’s on the hand, conceive the film projects they want to and either take it upon themselves to direct and/or produce this material and must find others to collaborate with if it is to have a chance at being made.
And as a consequence of not going the studio route, the indie screenwriter must become an indie filmmaker or ‘auteur’ and leverage their network to greater effect.
Embracing the Writer’s Life
So why do so many people believe that becoming an indie screenwriter is the way to go? Mostly, because it’s the path of least resistance. The only pre-requisites you need to have in order to call yourself a writer is the passion and the ability to write.
Of course the best indie filmmakers are those that are great at scripting a story that can be made on a tight budget, comfortable with calling in favours, can accept compromise and make a difficult business model work for them, and who have the support and respect of their peers.
Just know that success in this field won’t come easy. You’ll jot down plenty of notes that won’t amount to anything, write plenty of scripts that you’ll abandon and produce plenty that’ll fall short of your vision due to monetary constraints or collaborations simply not working out.
Chasing the All Mighty Dollar
In returning to the crux of the argument and addressing the expensiveness of indie filmmaking, many independents find they have to depend on pitching their ideas to Hollywood and pinning all their hopes on selling a script.
This is just one method of securing finance and until such opportunities become open to you, you’ll need to take a closer look at how you can create your own access channels to quality funding opportunities.
For instance you could:
• Create a contacts database of potentially interested independent producers
• Pitch to companies outside Hollywood who deal in the themes of your film
• Turn to crowdfunding and market your idea to an international audience
Ideally, you should be pursuing all roads as they relate to furthering your career as a screenwriter whilst trying to avoid the pitfalls that prevent a screenplay from ever getting made, even a great one. It’s all about keeping that momentum going for as long as you can until you have options.
Ultimately what I’m trying to say is that as long as you’re prepared to work hard and wear many hats, you’ll feel like you’re going someplace. And before long, you will be.
Looking for a Collaborator?
That wraps up part 2 of this series discussing the pros and cons of following the studio and independent screenwriter career paths.
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Thanks for reading!