The term maverick is used to describe people that are viewed as unconventional and independent, and do not think or behave in the same way as other people. There are many aspiring indie filmmakers out there that take a maverick approach to making movies and end up failing. They waste their talent, time, and money trying to run before they can walk.
Being a maverick filmmaker is cool so long as you understand what it takes to succeed in the movie business. “Know the rules before you break them” is a good saying to remember. You can’t make a name for yourself in the movie business if you do not know how it works. If you’re the type of person that does not listen to sound advice or is a know-it-all, then there is no benefit in continuing reading. If you’re the type of person that is open-minded to new information then this will speak to you.
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 walk off your project or turn in lackluster efforts that will be painfully obvious when you go to edit your movie. Post production never lies. Independent film budgets are tight with no wiggle room for extra shooting days. Many times the seed money to produce a indie movie comes from friends and family of the filmmaker. Not to compromise your creative vision when it’s absolutely necessary to finish the movie is insanity, not to mention selfish. If I personally invested money into a friend or relatives movie I would hope they would control their ego in order to finish the movie.
I’ve always felt making a movie does not give a person the creative license to waste other peoples money. Especially if that money comes from friends and family. I treat investors money as it were my own. Before you shoot your movie it’s a good idea to highlight scenes of your script that are crucial to your creative vision. This is only 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 that every bit of dialogue and scene they wrote is amazing. Some dialogue and scenes are simply there to keep the story moving. I hang out with an honest bunch of indie filmmakers and we pretty much agree every movie has filler written into it.
It might hurt a unrealistic filmmaker to think that way, but brutal honesty is amazing for the growth of a healthy creative spirit. When you are going through your script highlight filler scenes that are not crucial to your creative vision. Those will be the first scenes to be cut down or removed all together when time and money begin to run out. At the indie movie making level time and money always run out. Be prepared to make changes to your movie and creative vision if push comes to shove. During production of my first feature Consignment I had to rewrite scenes on the spot or the movie would die. I do not feel I compromised my creative vision by making radical changes on the set. I was able to overcome obstacles to finish the movie. Isn’t finishing a movie what it’s all about?
That lead to what I wanted to share with you today, Avoid being 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 loss of a location, or a equipment problem. A lot can go wrong when you are making 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.
By no means do you have to be a doormat when making your movie, but you don’t have to be a razor blade either. Blessed is the indie filmmaker that can find and connect with their creative balance. There are a lot of solid life lessons I’ve learned making movies. If you take nothing else from what you’ve read here, take this, “control your ego, do not let your ego control you.” This is indie filmmaker Sid Kali typing FADE TO BLACK.