What's It Like Making An Independent Movie? / by Richard Something

Great question! Thanks for asking, blog post title. 

Some nights I lie in bed wondering if leaving my fancy job in its fancy office with its fancy kitchen and gym and massages was a dumb decision. I was fairly poor when I was a kid, so my instinct is to hold tight to a nice job so big piles of cash can stack up around my house. Though that probably wouldn’t be a terrible instinct even if I’d grown up as a delicate little man of leisure. 

Now here I am, making an independent film and certainly not earning any money from the process. Why do I even want to make movies? The work can be pretty stressful. It eats up a ton of energy and time. Why can’t I just be happy watching other people’s movies? That’d free up a lot more evenings for cocktails. 

Why even bother?  

Why even bother?  

Besides, most movies are bad. Even movies with lots of Hollywood funding and a crew of hundreds. Who am I to think we can make something worth watching, almost entirely independent of that system?

I set up shots during filming and wonder if the composition is boring or brilliant or dumb, cliched or interesting or needlessly weird, flat or strikingly composed or second year film student style pov-shot-from-inside-a-garbage-can nonsense. “Should I be panning the camera around more?” I’ll suddenly wonder for no real reason.  

Is this actually a good shot? 

Is this actually a good shot? 

Are our scenes varied enough? Are our locations interesting enough? Will the atmosphere of the movie live up to the script and what we see in our heads? Is stuff we shot two months ago going to match up properly with scenes we're shooting right now? 

"Wow, Richard!" You say, relaxing on a couch in my head. "It sure sounds like making this movie gives you a lot of self-doubt."

Of course it does. I'd be stupid not to constantly question what we're doing. I want this movie to be good. I want every actor and crew member to be proud they were part of it. I want both people I know and don't know to laugh at the jokes, sing along to the music, leave the theater feeling good about the whole experience. 

Will people laugh at the jokes in this scene? 

Will people laugh at the jokes in this scene? 

Happily, I'm not the anxious mess this blog post might be implying. These moments of doubt are highly outnumbered by the many more moments of excitement and confidence. 

When Jamie sends over a new song with amazing lyrics, when he or Erma or Aviva or Scott or Riah or Mark or any of the many other actors in the movie delivers their lines even better than I had envisioned them in my head, when George rewrites a scene and comes up with ideas I wouldn't have ever thought up, when I see someone in costume for the first time, when I examine footage that looks and sounds great, when I try not to laugh while one of the very funny actors is ad-libbing... I really feel like we might just maybe have something here. 

So on those nights when I lie in bed wondering if leaving my fancy job in its fancy office with its fancy kitchen and gym and massages was a dumb decision, I eventually always come around to the same answer. No, it wasn't a dumb decision. It was the best decision I've ever made.