Back at the beginning of summer 2018 I did a blog post on “semi retirement from indie film”. Some people took that as a literal “completely quitting indie film”, that is not true. I then had to clarify in another blog post that I’m not quitting just refocusing my efforts back into the parts of online content that are essential in the bigger picture.
Truth is I will be making a return to indie film but in a very different way than I have ever approached it before. Basically i’ll be returning to indie film once it is a financially viable thing to do. See we all as indies trick ourselves into thinking that we should be constantly making things on zero budget and hoping someone in power sees it and hires us to make big budget films that will make us successful. That does happen but it’s very rare and we will burn up a lot of money out of our own pockets trying to make that happen. If you are an indie filmmaker have you ever sat down and calculated have much money you have spent in the pursuit of making content. I say content as I’ve actually done the calculations on every free project I’ve worked on since 2005. The number is a shock to the system, I’ll share that at the bottom of this blog.
I’ve made the decision that from here on Jpm Films Worldwide will only put fully funded indie film projects into production as the headaches involved in the zero budget arena are not worth it. But what if projects can’t get funded? Well then they don’t get made, plain and simple. The major downside to always making zero budget films is that the name “zero budget” says it all. There’s no budget. No budget for paying actors or crew or covering repair costs. And what happens when we burn out a professional editing suite? No money being generated to replace one of those. Unless we are one of the lucky ones who “gets noticed” we remain in that sickening cycle of always trying to get people to work for free. Down side to that is if you are never paying cast or crew there’s no incentive for them to continue to consistently keep giving their time to you. Eventually all the contacts you make will start moving on to bigger better things while you are still spinning your wheels hoping that the “powers that be” may decide to throw you a bone.
I’m content to keep working on the free online video and audio podcasts that I produce. That’s been the one thing so far that has generated at least some sort of financial income. I can already hear some people say “Ah ha you are only in this for the money” No I’ve just come to realise that you will never make a career out of something if you always do it for free. Plus the complete lack of real partnerships in the indie space doesn’t give me any incentive to return to the zero budget productions. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past encouraging and sharing others content and never see them engaging on any online videos or podcasts been producing by me. I’m not interested in one sided deals. There is nothing worse than putting work and support into others and not getting the same in return.
Having said that there are a lot of people I owe some freebies for the help they gave me on Conclusions and I will honour that. Outside of that I’ll not be working for free again. If you are good at something don’t do it for free.
I’m sorry guys that this blog post is a bit of a downer but I feel it’s important that if you are considering getting into indie film you should see the side that most of us try to hide. A lot of the big benefits come from the things are projects do for the people that see them. Take the short film I directed and edited Weapon of Choice. In the first few days of it being released online it inspired one woman to get out of an abusive relationship. That’s worth more than money. Another example is the 50 episode series I produced Worthless Insanity. A cancer patient messaged me to say that the series gave him something to look forward to while he was going through his Chemotherapy. Having lost both my parents to cancer that was a message I’ll hold dear the rest of my days. But as good and wonderful as those are you can’t pay your bills with them.
So what is the number? Money spent since 2005 on equipment costs, repair costs, rental costs, travel, food for all the free projects I’ve created for myself and other people in the hopes of “Getting noticed”........ £24.873
Time to stop wasting time and money.
Big Love Rodney.