Chances are your first film will not look like a full blown Hollywood production like this one.
Everyone in filmmaking has had the experience. You put in the time and effort to make an indie film; begging for sets, pleading with talent, trying to get by on the cheap. After months of work and by some Herculean effort, you manage to pull it off.
Next comes shopping your masterpiece around to film festivals. Initially surprised that very few festivals accept your film or even respond to your entry, you eventually get one or two to let you show your film. All excited as the day approaches, you’re already spending the distribution money in your head.
They day finally dawns, your film rolls and half the audience gets up and walks out. You don’t win anything at festival, no one offers you a distribution deal. Complete strangers rip your movie with a casual, almost off-handed cruelty. The worst part, most of what they’re saying is right. People don’t like your movie because it sucks. You are sad.
While that description sounds depressing, it’s actually more fact than fiction. I’ve just described the experience for the majority of new filmmakers. The films that actually get distribution are roughly the same percentage as the number of college football players who get a shot at the NFL.
That was roughly the experience of my first movie, maybe a bit better. The audience did not walk out, it got a few laughs here and there, a few of the shots actually looked pretty good on the big screen. I didn’t win anything, but considering one of the other directors I was up against at that festival was Craig Brewer, I didn’t feel too bad.
Okay, so your first movie wasn’t that great, now what?
Take Heart In The Accomplishment
First, give yourself some credit. Everyone with any type of video camera these days thinks they’re Spielberg and you actually did something 99 percent of them will never do: You finished a movie! Believe me, at DVFreelancer, we know how hard that is!
Think About How Much You Learned
My movie wasn’t great but I learned about music rights, scripting, lighting, audio, shot angles, lenses, tracking shots, backing shots, editing, color grading and dozens of other topics important to filmmaking. That’s an amazing amount of information to organize and execute, but you did it!
Consider a Remake
While not always possible, consider remaking your first film under a different title. I know that seems counter-intuitive, but if it was production values that killed you the first time, make them better the next time around. Not that many people saw your first film, so the similarity may not be all that apparent.
Think How Much Better The Next One Will Be
Imagine all the mistakes you can skip the next time, the blown takes because the lighting wasn’t right, no more mumbled audio, or the wasted hours because you forgot to bring extra batteries. You’ll shoot more and longer takes, you’ll be better and getting your talent to relax and act. You may not have been a pro right out of the gate, but you will be by the second or third movie.
So, suck it up, cowboy. I know that’s an easy thing to say from my perspective, but you will get better at the craft if you just stay with it. And, who knows, if you really stick with it long enough, you might actually make some money one day.Tags: first movie, Independent films, now what?, your first movie sucked
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