Wednesday, 22 February 2012


As the landscape of film funding continues to change the biggest challenge for independent filmmakers is to pick a side. Do they go big, go small or go home?

Those on the outskirts are told pre-sales are dead, minimum guarantees are shrinking and the only way to go is to make it for the cost of a packet of cigarettes in hope of making a profit.

Those at the top are going bigger and bigger to pull in the crowds and those in the middle are torn between the two. However, dig a little deeper and you realise there is still a place for mid-range good quality product. Less than six weeks ago an indie distributor told us pre-sales aren’t dead, they’re essential. Quality product is declining so if distributors want it they have to get in early.

The Myth of Micro-Budget is that it’s the key to making money. Make it cheap sell it high. However, we all know cheap budgets won’t necessarily equal quality and audiences might go for the odd Paranormal Activity or Blair Witch Project but generally you’re up against the studios for a space in the multiplex. As an independent producer there’s no denying budgets are shrinking and we all have to tighten our belts a little but if we do away with a budget completely how do we survive?

Making a product for less than its worth is a fundamental part of business but business is all about making a profit down the line and paying those responsible. If everyone sets out to make micro-budget movies how long can those people last? Who is paying the crew’s mortgage when they’re working for a tiny share of profits they might never see? Starting out as a runner on a low-budget set and learning a few tricks of the trade is one thing. Being the DoP and being paid nothing is quite another.

Industries aren’t built on a free economy and if micro-budget becomes the only route for indie filmmakers, the film industry could just turn into one giant sweatshop even if the clothing still looks good.

Article by Michael Ford: see the article at ER Grove & CO