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A Good Story Transcends Film Production Costs

If you have a good story to tell and you always wanted to be an independent filmmaker then there is no reason why you should not make your story into an independent film. With the right film production techniques, the right script, the right people working with you and a relatively small amount of money you can make a low budget independent film that can compete with the best of them on the film festival circuit at places like Cannes, Toronto, Telluride and the Sundance Film Festival. If your story is compelling enough people will forget that the film production value is a bit challenged.

There are people all over this world who never gave up on their dreams to make independent films, despite the difficulties that came with working outside of the mainstream film industry. They are passionate independent filmmakers who believe that anyone with a compelling story to tell has a right to make a movie. Through their struggles these diehard filmmakers have created cheaper ways to make movies. This revolution was born out of frustration due to decades of having their creative voices shunned by the big film studios who favored commercialism over creativity.

The commercialism associated with the films that are being released by the major Hollywood studios these days is very appalling to any independent filmmaker who considers their work to be art. Nowadays movies are tested extensively beforehand to ensure that the studio committing hundreds of millions of dollars to it will not lose money. They perform surveys and focus groups to study what people like to see when they go to the movies. Of course the people are going to mention the types of movies they have already seen, and then the studio tries to duplicate that kind of movie. The movie that gets the most mentions is the one they try to remake with a newer, slicker look.

This kind of pre-testing that is performed by the major studios tends to narrow the field down to only a few kinds of movies that they will invest in which means there is no room for new ideas. True artists can never be happy when there are constraints imposed on their methods and subject matter.    

Although the film industry is a merging of story telling and commerce, in the end the story telling part has always been the most important half of the equation for the audience. They can grow tired of watching big budget films with a lot of technical pizzazz, but they will watch independent films with compelling stories forever.

The problem for the big studios is that good stories cannot be mass produced in a factory. They come from inside a personís soul located somewhere in the vast memory banks where their life experiences are stored. The big movie studios would love to harvest these stories on a corporate level, but the problem is you never know when a good story will come to life inside a person and take on a life of its own. And so they continue to produce movies that have more style than substance, for that is something that can be controlled.

However, even with the impressive advances in film production quality, people would much rather see a good movie with a low film production value than they would a bad movie with a high film production value.

Talent and a good storyline are generally worth more to movie audiences than an expensive look. If you can just get a good story made into a low budget independent film and submitted to film festivals, then people will take notice. If a buzz is created about your movie, it can lead to a distribution deal that is worth many times more than the money you invested.  

After you have finished with all phases of the film production process you need to find places that will show your independent film to the public. There is a thing called the film festival circuit and it is the last bastion of hope for people who want to make low budget independent films. Sure, the celebrities and big studios have recently invaded the larger events like Toronto, Cannes and the Sundance Film Festival, but they still make room for the little guys. Independent filmmakers are still the focus of film festivals no matter how much publicity they receive.

Films like The Blair Witch Project are a perfect example of how a film with a very small film production budget but a very clever story can make it to the big time. This very independent film was a big hit at The Sundance Film Festival in the late nineties and it was all because of the storyline. The Film was shot and edited on video and transferred to 16mm film only for the print that was needed for screenings at the festival. The independent filmmakers that made this film only spent about 40,000 dollars to make it and get it ready for Sundance. The film production value was very poor (video) but people could not stop talking about how the story ended. It received a lot of publicity and was subsequently sold to a major film studio for one and a half million dollars. The studio then made 150 million dollars on this independent film when they blew it up to 35 millimeter and distributed it to theaters nationwide. 

Film festivals are places where the playing field is leveled for all the players in the independent film industry. It is a strange nexus between people who are hungry to get into the film industry (low budget independent filmmakers) and people who have had too much of it (Hollywood celebrities) and just want to be a little less full of it. They long for the days when filmmaking was more of an art form and less commercialized. The result is that they embrace independent filmmakers in their raw form. When this happens there is always a chance that one of the little independent films that was invited to participate  could be suddenly held up to the spotlight by the big players and glorified. If this does occur it is usually because the storyline of the film created a buzz, not the film production value.

Michael Connelly

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