Independent filmmaking is one of the freshest niches of the startup business sector. Nowadays, anyone with a high-quality camera, some sound equipment, self-taught skills, and the desire to earn money making short films can be successful. What does it take, besides the basic ingredients, to turn your DIY filmmaking venture into something more than an enjoyable hobby?
For starters, you need to outfit new business with the best equipment your budget will allow. After that, it’s essential to research the for-profit marketplace and see what’s selling, what’s trending, and what kinds of filmmakers are getting noticed. It’s also important to pick up as many technical skills as you can from in-person classes, online tutorials, and internships. Once you’re ready to pitch ideas to indie studios, expect interested parties to ask for portfolios of prior work. Here’s the process in a nutshell.
Invest in the Right Equipment
Your two largest expenses will be cameras and sound equipment. Lighting is another expense category but won’t set you back nearly as much as the other two. Don’t assume that high prices equate to high quality. Ask a few professionals, or simply contact a few independent producers and ask for suggestions about which cameras are best for entry-level practitioners.
Budget Your Expenses Carefully
It’s one thing to create short movies for the fun of it. But once you reach the point where you need to purchase professional-level equipment and hire extras for various projects, it’s time to budget expenses down to the last dollar. Anyone who wants to build a for-profit film-making business has to pay a few upfront costs just to get started.
For most newcomers to the indie film industry, even solo makers of documentaries, instructional videos, and other offerings, the fastest way to get up and running is to take out a personal loan from a private lender. Not only is the entire application process quick and simple, it’s all online, so you can get funds into your account as quickly as possible once you’re approved. Even a few pieces of basic equipment can mean you can finance over time, so you don’t go broke on the initial investment.
Study the Market
It’s imperative to study the current market because it changes from year to year and season to season. Keep a list of the hottest topics are and see if you can find an angle within your own area of specialty that matches up with what’s hot. For example, if you make short documentaries and notice that British history is trending, consider doing a short documentary piece for your portfolio on the oldest buildings in London.
Pitch Ideas to Indie Studios
Once you have at least four items in your portfolio, all of which represent your very best work, contact 20 of the most active indie film studios and ask how to make a submission. Expect a few instant rejections. But most will at least tell you their formal process for sending in your work or explain how to apply for an upcoming project. The portfolio is your calling card, and will eventually open doors for you in this competitive industry.