An Indie Filmmaker Answers My Question

A couple days ago I e-mailed one of the producers I'd met briefly at AFF (I won't name him so he doesn't get bombarded, but he's an indie producer with a lot of experience). To be honest, I didn't expect any kind of answer; I've gotten used to being ignored, to having my queries disappear into a void. (Another producer informed me if he sees "query" in the subject line of an e-mail, he deletes it without ever opening it. Good to know.)

Anyway, this filmmaker did answer me, which is very kind of him because I know he's incredibly busy as most people in the industry tend to be. I had asked him the question I couldn't seem to get an answer to while at AFF: I've got this short script with this great feedback, so now what?

The producer laid it out for me thusly, saying I basically had three options, none of them perfect (but then what in this world is):

If you're looking for work as a writer, I think the simplest answer is to learn from the work and write something else...like another short or a feature. You might also want to try and share it with writing agents as a sample. It can be tough getting responses from agents though, so this may not work. I operate by the idea that the more persistent you are, the better. I still haven't gotten a paying film career together, but I keep making movies (9 features now, I think), and most times, we seem to get a bit more notice than the time before...It's a long slow build though, which is what I think that whole "Sundance is dead" was getting at. Very, very few people make one thing and get noticed - it's about continuing to work and work and work and cumulatively building something. It's not lucrative along the way, and it's a constant struggle.

If you want to make the short, I'd recommend signing up for a production class and making it yourself, which would be its own learning experience. Things never really turn out how you imagined when you shoot them, but the act of doing it makes you a stronger writer and filmmaker.

There's a chance you might be able to find someone else interested in making it, but then only if you pay for it. Most working filmmakers have a list of things they want to do, and if they're established, the only reasons they seem to make shorts are to test out ideas in a direction they're thinking about heading on a feature or to make a sample that can later be turned into one. Shorts just don't have much potential beyond festival screenings, and for many established filmmakers, fests are not that meaningful.

It's really kind of awesome that he was willing to answer me, and with such nice detail about the various avenues. I'm currently trying to decide how badly I want to pursue this. I'm inclined to shelve it at the moment and finish the couple prose projects I have going, namely the "St. Peter" sequel and my novel The K-Pro. After all, I can do that at home with little expense. Making a movie requires a gearing up, like a wind up before the pitch; it's a huge expenditure of time, energy, and yes, money. I'm not sure I'm there yet, and I figure if there's even a little doubt in my mind, that's probably not the best start.

Still, if anyone wants a well-reviewed short screenplay to take on as a film project . . . *wink*

Cross posted to PepperWords.

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