Thursday, May 6, 2010

Marathon Man

Here is a very common problem to indie films-- the filmmakers enter the process on a sprint, not realizing exactly how long the race is.  And I'm not necessarily talking about a 400 meter racer finding out it's a marathon.  I'm talking about the 5K or 10K person finding out it's a marathon.

When a filmmaker starts the process, it's exciting.  The all nighters and lack of sleep are nothing for the energy that flows through the body at this point.  The shooting is gruelling, but for the indie filmmaker, he (or she) could be no where else.

Then the picture wraps.  It's a HUGE downer as everyone, all those people who had come on board to help you build your vision of a story simply disappear and go on to help someone else.  Now you're left pretty alone except for the editor or post supervisor.

And usually, this is the point the money runs out because you went over budget on the shoot and used your post money to get through production.  But now, things slow down.  You finally get a first edit.  And at least twenty minutes have to come out.   It's hard.  You're tired.  But finally, after all these months, you make it-- you "lock" the edit.  But wait--

It ain't over.  You still have a long way to go.  Sound design, complete with M&E ("oh let's just skip it and use the temp track"), music ("what about using buy out canned stuff?"), coloring ("what's that?") will take several months.  And you thought you were done.

You're out of gas, short of the finish line.  The human tendency is to settle for mediocrity-- and many of you will.  But let's say you make it, finally-- you have sound, music, picture all come together for your final movie.  A screener.  But wait--

Still not there yet.  Now you've got to entice distributors to make you an offer.  And then it comes, you get that offer.  Wow!  Now you're done, right?  But wait--

With the offer comes a long, very long list of "deliverables."  You have to go back and get an actor contract that was missed.  You find out you didn't have clearance for a painting predominately displayed in the movie and now you either need permission, or you need to cut-- which at this stage would be expensive and time consuming.

So when does the marathon end?  Some would say when you finish delivery and all your elements finally pass quality check and the distributor says you're good.  Me, I say it ends when the investors make their money back and then some.  And unfortunately, some marathons have not ended yet.

So get ready, train hard because the race is longer than you think.

(For the "Greenlight Yourself" DVD training course and starter kit, go to to get the pre-order discount.  Program will be released later this month.)

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