Ten Things We Should All Do On Our Productions

1. Be a mentor to someone. This is more than just hiring interns. It is about really educating someone, giving them access to experience.
2. Do something "the better way" instead of the easy way. We make ethical excuses in order to say money, but we need to focus on the big picture.
Avoid 15 Passenger Vans as they are the most dangerous vehicle on the road.
Provide housing when someone has worked an excessive day.
Recycle bottles and cans.
Print less. Use less paper.
Email Call Sheets
Provide production packages (shooting schedules, breakdowns, lists, etc.) on line.
Crew Lists as Address Cards so they can instantly be in one's phone.
3. Remember that everyone is first and foremost a human being and not just a worker drone.
Learn everyone's name and what they like to do. Remember that everyone is working together.

Help them stay in contact and participating in the world around them: provide news updates at Craft Service; provide absentee ballots during election periods; encourage petitions for favorite causes;
4. Keep the crew updated as to the progress of the production -- through post and release.
Recognize they make the movie; treat them as partners.
Via email updates during post and release.
5. How can you have the movie actually help improve the world?
Can you generate charitable items that could raise money? Can you collect signatures on petitions for particular causes? Can you educate your cast and crew? What can you do with the completed work that will make this a better place?
6. Can you help out another filmmaker with your film? Invite another artist to film a doc about the process.
7. Stay focused on what the movie needs and don't get distracted by the thrill of 100 new friends.
8. Show your appreciation. Feel it. You wouldn't be doing this if it wasn't for your cast, crew, and financiers.
9. Think health & saftety. Provide healthy food all the time. Have a medic on set, even if not required.
10. Follow the 20 New Rules Prior to Production so that your film might have a chance in this hyper-competitive marketplace.
Fine print: I try and set the bar high. I can't say I always succeed myself.

50* Ways You Can Do Something Different On This Production

New work, and sometimes great work, comes from thinking differently. We all get stuck in ruts, fixed ways of thinking. How do we bring a fresh perspective to our work? What are different options that we have before us?
There are certainly a whole number of different questions we can all ask ourselves when it comes to indie film production. Granted it is a tad complicated when film cost significant amounts to produce (or at least generally speaking). Here in America, without any government support, we also are obligated to deliver a financial return to our investors, and that is a great influencer on the process.
I would love to have a list of fifty to put before myself before stepping into a new production. For now, I will have to settle for this list of 13 until you all add to it. Thanks for the help in advance (and here's to hitting fifty)!

  1. How can you help other artists with this film you are doing? Can you bring others into the process?
  2. Do something stylistically just because you like it. Allow something to be "outside" the film, something that doesn't fit so right and is only there because you dig it. Why does it always have to fit?
  3. How can you help the world by the content of this film? How can you work for impact first, and business second (without ignoring those financial obligations, that is)?
  4. How can you have less environmental impact on the world with your process? Recycle. Use less paper. No styrofoam. Car pool. Carbon credits.
  5. How can you do more to show appreciation for your collaborators? What if you put people first would that change your content significantly?
  6. Are you really collaborating with your crew? Do they feel like you are? What if you listened more, and spoke less?
  7. You say it is a team approach, but what if everyone was treated equally? What if your equality carried over not just to financial matters, but also in terms of access?
  8. What if you completely demystified the process and opened it up to comment by all cast, crew, and fans? As opposed to the studio's no-twitter policy, what if you made it a requirement>
  9. What would be a different business model? Could you give it away? Free it? Never plan to screen it theatrically? What if the movie was not the main event, but something else was?
  10. Place the bar higher & reach higher. What makes something better? What if you made sure you could answer any question as to why before you started? Or maybe this would be the opposite and you should answer no questions but hold it all within yourself...
  11. Is your work truthful? Is every action, emotion, reaction honest? Are the settings truly lived in? Can you extend only from your characters, their psychology and socio-economic situation -- removing your own intent from the design?
  12. What if you built your audience base prior to shooting? And maintained significant communication with them throughout the process? How might that change your final work?
  13. Innovate. Try some new equipment on every production. Improve a simple process. Isn't production about the communication of information in the service of art, as efficiently, economically, and aesthetically as possible?

Prepping Your Film For Distribution

Jason Brubaker has "Prepping Your Film For Distribution" in current edition of The Independent.  It's all good advice and the equal attention paid to self-distribution demonstrates the reality-check that has finally seeped through the layers of denial most indie filmmakers have held on to for too long.  I wonder why "getting pick up" is even looked at on even ground with the DIY approach.  Let's face it, the odds are practically 1 in 400 that your film will be picked up by a major distributor.  The time to start to prep for self-distribution is now, not later.

I recognize how getting your film made is an all consuming task.  Yet, I am struck time and time again how filmmakers don't recognize that  "prepping your film for distribution", reaching out to your audience, and marketing your film BEFORE you shoot, all significantly increases your odds of getting picked up.  It's like wearing the right clothes before you go to the bar.  It shows that you are serious.  It shows that you are going to do everything possible for people to see your film, that you will give your all to get your investors money back.
Back in the Good Machine days, and every day since then, we have approached delivery like production.  If you arrive at a film festival having done the due diligence that Jason discusses, your chances have acquisition are improved.  Every distributor has had the nightmare of the unclearable  or undeliverable film -- and they will avoid the repeat like the plague.
We have had our films bought or financed because we showed how the film could be marketed, where the audience was and what they responded to previously.  We didn't wait until the movie had screened to address this. We thought long and hard about this before we shot anything.  Waiting until your movie is done to approach these issues is going to hurt your prospects.
I am also of the firm belief that thinking about these aspects, whether they are marketing, legal, or delivery issues, makes your film better.  It focuses the thought.  It requires choices to be made.  There is no excuse not to do everything that is raised in The Independent BEFORE you even approach investors.  Take Jason's advice to heart, but do it sooner, much much much sooner.