The scenario: You’ve got an amazing script. The dialogue is smart—it wastes no time; the story is powerful and moving, featuring endearingly flawed characters who no one can help but root for all the way up to the heartwarming end. This script isn’t like Peter Schmidt’s from screenwriting who’s convinced his 30-pager about a depressed guy is the next best thing. No, your script has vision. It needs to be made. Hell, you may have even made it already. Maybe it’s not just a script anymore,…Continue Reading “Here’s Why Producers Aren’t Interested in Your Script”

These are the musings of someone trying to figure out how the hell you become a profitable filmmaker. It seems that the more and more I research the topic, the less hopeful the outlook appears. But—that’s only if you’re committed to one ideal of filmmaking (a.k.a. the one where you make big movies and win Oscars). And I would say that I am, to a degree.  Still, it’s kind of important to face reality and figure out how you’re going to survive. That said, I’ve made…Continue Reading “4 Ways to Make Money as a Filmmaker”

Awhile back, after seeing The Revenant, I was thinking to myself about the value of entertainment and why people pay for it. I think the simple answer is: fun. People get bored and want to have a good time. They want that so much that they’re willing to pay for it. But I’d like to propose it’s something deeper than that. Maybe it’s that people want to feel, and that’s what they’re paying for. To use The Revenant as an example, I (hopefully) will never…Continue Reading “Paying to Feel: Why People Love Movies”

So you’ve got a story you want to tell. Now the question is: how are you going to tell it? There are the obvious options: you could make a movie, a TV show or a web series (that’s assuming you’re reading this because you’re a filmmaker). Then there are the less mainstream options of new media, such as interactive storytelling or even virtual reality. I’m going to focus on the mainstream stuff, partly because I don’t have a lot of experience with new media, and…Continue Reading “Movie, TV Show or Web Series? Choosing the Right Format For Your Story”

It can be hard to foresee everything you might need on set, especially on indie films where budgets are tighter, set-ups are thriftier, and departments are a little bit more blended. Your crew position will also play a role into what you should bring, but even as a director, I still bring items that could potentially help G&E, art or even camera. Here’s a comprehensive list of everything I currently have in my production bin: 1. Paper Towels In case of spills or a lack of napkins…Continue Reading “Set Essentials: What I Always Bring to a Shoot”

In 2016, I helped put together three separate crowdfunding campaigns. And to be perfectly honest, I never want to do it again. Or, at least, I never want to do it again unless it’s a project where I’m sure of three things: It’s offering real value to its intended audience. Research has been done to determine how many people are likely to pitch in, and by how much. It’s a project that I deeply care about. In my first campaign, #3 was true, #1 was debatable and…Continue Reading “Lessons Learned From Running 3 Kickstarter Campaigns in a Year”

“Make movies not meetings” and “Be prolific” are the advice that we’re getting from prominent indie filmmakers like Joe Swanberg and the Duplass brothers. But how do you do that if you don’t have a story to tell? Writer’s block is the greatest hinderance to filmmaking. And, unfortunately, I’m not of the party that can just grab a camera and shoot something. I like to have a plan. So here are the components of my writer’s block prevention strategy. These are tips I’ve collected from screenwriting classes,…Continue Reading “Writer’s Block Prevention: 5 Tips for Story Ideas”

Until film school, I had always approached filmmaking with a DIY attitude. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, that is, if you know what you’re doing. Whether I knew what I was doing back then is questionable, but my biggest fault for wearing all the hats was a lack of trust. Since then, I’ve come around to building teams, and let me tell you: it makes shooting so much smoother. Filmmaking is unavoidably collaborative, and as a director/producer, it can be easy to put your…Continue Reading “7 Tips for Recruiting Your Indie Production”

Since seeing La La Land, I was surprised by the variety of responses that it provoked from the people I discussed the film with. One friend loved it for the romance and nostalgia, my dad thought it as a sweet portrayal of puppy love, and a friend of a friend flat out did not like it because she could not relate. It’s interesting how much you can learn about people based on reactions to a film. For me, I fell completely in love with La La Land. I went to the theater expecting…Continue Reading “La La Land: An Ode to Artists and Dreamers”

Many great directors like Spike Jonze and David Fincher started their careers by directing music videos. I would argue that the distinctively-styled films they are now famous for are a direct result of these beginnings. Here’s why: 1. There’s (usually) no dialogue in a music video. Without dialogue, you’re forced to show your story, not tell. This is often the most common mistake committed by new screenwriters: feeding the audience the plot through dialogue. If you’re going to do that, you might as well be writing…Continue Reading “Why Music Videos Make Great Directorial Exercises”