Independent Film Production Panel

                                                                                                                                                                       (www.clevelandfilm.org)
Nick Lotz

​I attended an Independent Film Production Panel. I recorded it. I refuse to transcribe it in its entirety, as transcribing is a tedious and arduous process for even the most accomplished of journalist. Instead, I’ve condensed what each filmmaker said down to easy to navigate paraphrased bites of dialogue. Hate me if you will, but thank me later, because the advice these five filmmakers provide to those aspiring to work in the industry is invaluable. So, I repeat, these are not direct quotations and do not treat them as such, yah dig?
 
Mitchell Altieri - A Beginner's Guide to Snuff
 
You don't have to do everything. Surround yourself with good people. Let them do the work that you cannot. Treat people with respect. You have to deal with unions. This is a reality. They will flip you if you don't sign their contracts. Start movie with a letter at the beginning of alphabet or number so it's easier to find on Video on Demand (VoD). Festivals are the number one place to get film seen and have buyers see movie. Have thick skin. If it's not extremely challenging, then you aren't doing it right. Have. Thick. Skin. This is not an easy field. It is (and should be) difficult from start to finish.
 
Claire Carré – Embers
 
Time management is key. If you always work with the same team, then they will know your work and know how to respond to your instructions. Even if you're feeling hopeless, sometimes you have to push through. Let your team motivate you and motivate your team. The means to make a film and get a film seen are more accessible than ever, but a film will not be accepted until fully finished, tied up with a bow on top. Don't rush and put out a rough cut in order to try to rush out a film. An editor brings in a third party perspective in a cut that allows them to edit together a film that a director cannot because they have a human connection to the actors.
 
Charles Moore – Madtown
 
There's no sense of a finish line; build a model of what is to be accomplished and then work your way backwards. Establish building blocks of what you want to accomplish and then stick to that. Be good to people. That's always important. Everyone is critical. You have to earn the credibility. You have to be true. Union will flip you if you treat people like crap. Sometimes if you're on set you'll get flipped if you're non-union. Even if you're making a micro budget film, you could put a kid through college on that budget. Build up credibility. Everything is VoD nowadays. There's a business side to getting your films shown/showcased on Netflix, Hulu, etc.
 
Angela Tucker - New Direction Jury
 She started at a production company as an intern and worked her way up
Maintaining drive to make projects. Takes a lot of focus and drive i.e. why are you making this project? What do you want to get out of it? Question yourself. It is extremely important to treat people with respect. Let actors work with dialogue; let them say it how it comes naturally to them. Know what audience you want to see your film (niche). Know your skill set. If you're starting off, find people to cover your weak areas. Focus on your strengths.
 
Anna Rose Holmes - The Fits
 Came up very traditionally as DP then producer
 Curate your own style of creative leadership. Be someone people want to work for. I’ve learned more from creative producers than directors. It’s not always about being a nice person. Sometimes it's about being a leader that asks people to give insane amount of work to a project. Foster relationships with people who subvert and question you in your work. Even if it's a small production, hire a labor lawyer to navigate through these laws. Define your goals for your project. With The Fits, I worried about showing a film to press and critics because I wanted to make a second film. Know your goals. Are you focused on distribution or showing it to the right audience? There are lots of good films that fall through the cracks. It's not just about money. It's also about learning.