Beyond the Set: Self-Producing Leaves You With All The Time in the World. But How Do You Use It? | 2 or 3 Things I Know About Film >> Film Film reviews, essays, analysis and more Film | 2 or 3 Things I Know About Film >> Film Film reviews, essays, analysis and more
Beyond the Set: Self-Producing Leaves You With All The Time in the World. But How Do You Use It?

Being an indie self-produced filmmaker means that there is no one above me putting time restraints on me. That is a massive advantage. This allows for as much time as needed to plan, write and problem solve. This also means I am always editing, changing and adding to a project. I see this as a bonus. I do not have to write multiple drafts to be approved by someone. I can work on it until I am satisfied and consider it finished. Having to work this way also affords me the ability to be the one setting dates for filming and arranging people's schedules, so they all work. 

Being the one to communicate first hand with all involved provides a level of comfort and security. When casting for a project that requires many actors who will be working for free, one remembers that to the actors, their schedules come first. That's fine as long as we can reasonably work out coinciding availabilities. I work with friends a lot as I'm sure many do. There has to be an understanding in place that this project and my vision for it is what is most important to me. If availability isn't lining up, or if the actor just isn't getting the role or appears incapable of producing the results I need, I will recast. If that somehow angers them, I can't help that. It certainly isn't the objective, but the understanding that this is what I'm doing has to be there. This isn't a hobby or a fun activity for me like it might be for them. Bruised egos have no place here.

One of the most important factors to remember is that you are limited. That realization doesn't have to be soul crushing. Lean into the limitations and find ways to work within them that allow you to achieve the results you want. This might mean having to put projects you are really passionate about to the side until it is feasible to make them. This happened to me recently. 

I run a production company with three other creative partners. Together, the four of us wrote a ten episode web series. I consider it to be among the absolute best writing I've been part of. Not to toot our horns too much, but it is quite funny and relatable, and it does this while remaining dark and at times rather outlandish. When writing it, we tried to stay both within our financial limitations while not restricting ourselves creatively. There were instances where this was not fully accomplished, but we felt we could still figure out a way to film the particular sequences that worked for us.



Often times this would lead to us devising bizarre events for the series which, on the surface, might seem idiotic. I assure you that in the context of the world we crafted, however, they fit perfectly. Most of the ideas we chose to reject stemmed from the use of any special effect. We used this method to keep in sequences that would otherwise not be filmable from a financial standpoint. Going in a direction that was completely off the wall meant the sequence could stay in, and we might be able to achieve some new comedy by doing the sequence in a simple yet obscure way.

Because we wrote a ten episode series, there are many acting roles involved. Living in a small city in Tennessee doesn't leave a lot of pro bono options as far as finding actors is concerned. From the get-go, the project was going to be a big undertaking with many moving parts. The limitation of other people's availability wasn't a big concern in the beginning. Everyone has their own life; they work jobs or have careers. It's worth noting that the endgame of most of the people acting in this project wasn't the same as ours. They weren't necessarily involved with our project so they could springboard into opportunities in the film or TV world. I get that. That itself wasn't a problem as long as they were willing to chip in to achieve our desired results. I understand that people have a lot going on. I work four jobs myself: along with trying to establish a production company, I'm also writing a book and producing a podcast. Time is not unlimited. Ultimately not being able to arrange for ten to twelve specific people to be on set at the same time became the reason we had to shelve the project.

After delaying this project, we realized that we need to work on much smaller and more intimate ones. That realization has reinvigorated me. Within a week of discussing this we have already written, location scouted, mostly cast and completely mapped out a new project. Yes, many limitations come with self-producing, but that doesn't need to be despairing. Accept it, work within it and create something you love. Don't let your passion can be held down or suffocated. Only you can be the catalyst for its fruition.