indie filmmaking


Been wrestling with something for a long time now. Why do I hate camera blog and vimeo culture so much? It’s not Vimeo’s fault, nor is it the poor blogger’s fault. Communities huddle round the cosy warmth provided by certainties, rules and public forums. Film communities are no different. And yet, all of this sits painfully at odds with my own experiences of late.

My life consists of putting bread on the table as a freelancer, primarily in post at the moment (straightest line between two points) while I wrestle with the intricacies of two very large drama projects on the side. The drama projects are sucking everything I’ve got which is why it’s good my bread and butter work requires so very little of my brain power.

What’s more important to me?

Obviously the drama.

But why?

Because, after years of educating myself, of trying stuff, of belligerently devoting far too much good energy to projects that don’t deserve it, I just can’t be bothered anymore. Drama is the only production work where I can go hell for leather, leave nothing in the ring, and feel good about it. If I give that level of effort to anything else I just feel like a prostitute. Drama is worth it, it pays you back, and fuck me is it hard.

So, why does everyone insist on shouting to the rooftops how easy it all is?

It’s never been easier to self-distribute, to find an audience, to shoot good-looking footage, to do everything. It’s fucking easy, yeah!

The sad thing is, in so many ways, that’s right.

If you grew up shooting on a PD150 before youtube existed when Final Cut was version 1 in MacOS9 then life was a bitch. But now it’s not. Want to know how to do something, google it, nab a tutorial, buy a DSLR. Boom. Done. You’re a filmmaker.

I just worry that we’ve made it all too fucking easy now. Where’s the endeavour, where’s the struggle? How many of you reading this can honestly say you leave it all in the ring?

Of course, making films automatically makes you a filmmaker, of course it does… does it fuck…. As I’ve got older, I’ve developed an increasingly healthy respect for the craft. Reaching up to the lofty heights where work is breathtakingly good requires the same commitment and ethic displayed by today’s tennis players. Watching Murray win Wimbledon or Nadal protect his knees by simply demolishing opponents in double quick time you understand that what they do is supremely difficult and they’ve earned the right to be there.

By laying all the secrets out in the open, by blogging about everything, by making everything cheaper, we’ve made the task of becoming really good valueless. And that’s sad. Because in the rareified world of features there’s nowhere to hide and you will get eaten alive. Very few of us make the step up into feature films. I have done and it’s everything I wanted it to be and much much more. But if you’re thinking that you can just go out there and shoot a feature film because filmmaking’s just so damn easy then you do a massive disservice to all those who have put the time in, who’s mastered what they do and continue to learn.

So, buy some books, be humble, step away from the blogs for a week or two and just figure stuff out on your own for a change.

That fucking weird idea that sits like a harpie at the edge of your consciousness. That’s the one you should explore. Not some lame ass shots of Skywalker Ranch.

You know who I’m talking about.



  1. Creating anything worth watching will always be very hard to pull off. Anyone who does post production knows that the word “easy” is a curse… as soon as the word is uttered, add 4 days to your project. I tell clients that “it will appear like I am not doing much- (when actual filming takes place), but it took me 25 years to be able to appear like I am doing nothing.”

  2. Ike says:

    …and of course we all know that the real film making is done in pre and in post. The shoot is just the harvest. Takes a lot more than that to bake a great batch.

  3. I think that’s too facile. The whole process contributes but you have to know how to be a multi-eventer. It’s very easy to cock up a shoot, harvesting makes it sound like you can just go in there and pluck everything you need. Still a very skilled job

    • Ike says:

      No doubt; are you saying that harvesting requires no skill? It’s the percentage of input to the final product that was the point. I’m sure most seasoned film makers would agree with the relevance of the 3 Ps here. First and foremost with drama are the 3 most important things: 1. Story; 2. Story; 3, Story. To use crappy analogies I could en-liken that to seed cultivation but alas it would seem that my analogies are not so resonant or easily digested so I’ll give up while I’m behind 😉

  4. Ah no not at all, harvesting takes great skill I’m sure, but the field stays where it’s put and you know the crop is ready. Production never seems to be like that!

    What’s so dynamic and exciting about drama in particular is the way a film can constantly evolve and develop through pre-prod and post. So yes, story, story, story but also persistence, objectivity and balls too.

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