I started as an Indie Filmmaker in the late 1990’s. This was long before YouTube, mass social media. Coding and getting video that looked good and played without pausing on the Internet was a challenge. Today, things are a hell of a lot easier but getting the opportunity to make a large budget film is still extremely difficult to do.
One thing that hasn’t changed, you gotta either have a family member in the film industry in a high-level position, be really different but still marketable or get damn lucky to get into the major film industry as a Director or ScreenWriter (God help the poor Screenwriter).
I still think creativity means something.
You cannot learn to make a great indie film by learning from a book but there are books that will improve your business sense see my article, Why You Should Pay Your Actors And Have Them Sign A Contract and help improve your shooting and creativity.
Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez is a classic Indie Filmmaking book and a must read if you haven’t already read it. You will find some great practical filmmaking advice and stories on how he made El Mariachi on a $7,000 budget. In the book’s appendix, is his ‘The Ten Minute Film Course,” a tell-all on how to save thousands of dollars on film school and teach yourself the ropes of film production, directing, and screenwriting. After you read this book, keeping checking out my articles on Make A Great Movie, then go out and make really shitty short films and music videos (that you think are great) put them out there and let your online audience rip you to shreds and tell you your stuff is crap. Then do it again.
Rebel without a Crew: Or How a 23-Year-Old Filmmaker With $7,000 Became a Hollywood Player by Robert Rodriguez
Once you have read the book, check out Robert Rodriguez’s low-budget Mexico Trilogy (El Mariachi / Desperado / Once Upon A Time In Mexico)
The next book I want to recommend to Indie Filmmakers is Spike Lee’s “Gotta Have It, Inside Guerrilla Filmmaking book. Unlike, Robert Rodriguez, Spike Lee raised $175,000 in 1985 to make an independent film on 16mm in black-and-white, “She’s gotta Have It”. Yes, $175,000 is a good deal of money but still a shoestring budget in large studio commercial filmmaking terms. What is remarkable is that “She’s gotta Have It” went on to be a commercial success and grossed over $8 million and won the Prix de Jeunesse at Cannes. You pull that off and guess what, the large commercial studios will all be calling you and throwing deals and money in your direction.
This is a great indie filmmaking book and includes the “She’s gotta Have It” screenplay and journal and production notes. It also gets into financing, writing, editing, and a has a lot of great filmmaking advice. Like Robert Rodriguez, spike Lee tells like it is and doesn’t pull any punches. If you’re an Indie Filmmaker you have to read Spike Lee’s gotta Have It.