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Filmmaking: Learning from Indie Bands

Walk down any city street in NYC, Chicago, LA and you’ll see flyers, stickers and banners advertising the next show of some unnamed band. You go to a bar or a club and there’s a band playing, they’re good. You pick up a record and start following them. The same scene exists for painters, writers, and sculptors.

What about filmmakers?

For instance, how record labels pick up bands. Rarely is it the new band out of nowhere. It’s typically a band that’s slowly over the years built up a steady and strong following, growing their fan-base with each new record. They write their songs, record them, book gigs, play shows, sell records and merch and people get to hear about them.

But for every 1 band on a label there’s 100 bands making money doing what they love.

If there’s one thing I say way too often it’s that it does you no good to make a film and have nobody watch it. I did some stints in the music scene so I end up approaching my filmmaking like an indie band: write film (“write” being loose in doc world), make film, set up a booking or “screening”. Sometimes there is no screening- it’s just online or it’s for a very select audience I know will enjoy it.

It works, each film is a success and with each new person watching, my audience is slowly being built. But unlike the stereotypical filmmaker who shoots for the big budget, career-making movie and is then let down because it flops, I’m shooting to make good films. 5, 10, 45, 90 minutes. Whatever.

And you should do the same.

Read this article from the New York Times and then ask yourself, how hard is it to call a few small theatres, pubs, libraries, art museums and have a film screening of my last 10 minute short?

Go indie style and perhaps, someone will come to you and say you’re worth the investment because you know how to get it done and make it happen- like a good indie band.

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©2019 by Jay Friesen.

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