What's in it for you? What's in it for me? What's in it for US?
I ask these questions, not to summon ego and attitude, but to summon awareness.
We all know we take some jobs just for money. Us indie filmmakers have to pay bills, too!! Those are not the jobs I'm talking about today.
Yesterday, Lorie and I were in a meeting with Beaux, someone we hope will be our go-to man for our 'behind the scenes' stuff. She asked a good question, one I learned from, and I hope you do too. She said, (and I'm paraphrasing) "What do you want to get out of this besides money?" She asked this question, because she knew there had to be something else that would motivate/inspire any individual in terms of longevity, and she wanted to know what it was. Primarily, so we can help achieve it, and both of us are happy!
It's not just about US directors/producers making OUR movie. It's about ALL OF US working TOGETHER to make something beautiful we can all be proud of. We are getting something more out of the experience personally, and think you should too.
Let me preface this by saying LIS is a paying project. We are still working on securing all of our funds, but we will have it! And if you work indie, you know that we can't afford to wait until all the funds are secured before lifting a finger. You take a leap of faith with a project.. on something that feeds your creative soul. That's what Lorie and I have been doing the last year together with LIS.
I've worked for free before, and had others work for free for me, too, in the past (which I'll address in a bit). But we're an indie project. And indie usually means you get paid enough to make it that month, but it's not going to afford you the ability to take off for 6 mo. while you look for your next project, like some multi-million dollar ones might.
The reason I thought this question was so genius was because it was so honest and relevant to today's tough times. Everyone, and I mean everyone, has a selfish motive for being involved in a film project... especially an indie one.. and especially if it's little or no pay. We, indie filmmakers, need to find out what that is.
Let me give you an example, based on my previous experiences. When I was working on my first short comedy, and paying out of my own pocket, I needed people to work for free in order for the film to get made - period. But guess what, since I was paying, that meant others got to be a part of a fun project - free - if they were looking to expand their portfolio, too!
Side note: Free doesn't mean entirely free. You must pay to FEED your people well, and especially if you want them to return the next day. Food goes a long way. Supplying well balanced meals says, "I APPRECIATE YOU!"
In addition, you'll most likely have to pay for some sort of equipment rental (unless you own everything).
So nothing is ever really free!
Each person who was a part of that film had something to gain, other than money & food, too. Perhaps it was a credit on IMDB for acting they wanted.. to legitimize themselves as actors. Perhaps they wanted to meet new people in the industry, or intern for credit at UT.
My second short narrative film, I knew I couldn't just call on 'free' favors again from the same people just 'cause, but I was diggin' outta the same pocketbook. So, I had to look for new hungry people. Perhaps they wanted to be in an HD film project because they knew I wouldn't let them down (from working with me before) or perhaps they wanted to be a part of its debut at a big local art festival.. perhaps they wanted to be the 'key' person on set for once. You get my drift?
Working with LIS was a different ball game. I knew there'd be money... eventually. But how do we get people on board without it? That was the big conundrum for me to face.
Well, I knew (or thought, and still do!) that I had a solid script, one I had worked so hard for 3 years to perfect. I had a verbally attached TV actress, just coming back from an exciting trip to LA. And shortly after, I had an experienced producer on board! Things were moving. And I had no time for shakin.'
Now I had to use my tools to find the perfect crew. Would they love the script? Could they connect to it somehow.. find something that inspired them to want to create for it? The fact that I had other people willing to 'commit' to it first helped. But I knew that's not why these savvy, artistic visionaries would singularly want to take on this project.
The people who really connected to the material, and me, are still the people that are on board today. Those types of connections are stronger than any motive for money. That's why relationships that marry for money don't usually last. And that's why I was inspired to share this with you today. :)
Remember, just like with actors, we're casting relationships. Ask yourself: Do I get along with the crew members on a 'personal' level? Do I feel comfortable expressing my opinions and asking questions without judgement (especially since I'm a first-time filmmaker)? Do I simply like their energy?
Bottom line, everyone has something else to gain besides money. Find out what it is and help them achieve that, too.