The article below originally appeared on my micro-budget weekly newsletter. For more content like this, be sure to sign up for the newsletter here.
MAKE A MOVIE FROM HOME
When COVID19 hit, filmmakers were struck with the sobering reality that all future productions would be shut down or put on hold indefinitely.
This was a tough pill to swallow, particularly for those of us with projects in development or pre-production, as it’s hard to know if or when those films will ever see the light of day.
But despite all of this uncertainty, I believe there is a silver lining for indie filmmakers:
The supply/demand dynamic for original content is changing rapidly.
For the past decade, there’s been a massive over-supply of content. As cameras and editing gear became accessible to the masses, everyone jumped on the bandwagon and started making their own movies.
This was exciting, as the changing digital landscape gave a voice to so many filmmakers who didn’t have one before. But on the flip side, their voices rarely were able to cut through the noise, as it’s been impossible to stand out from the mass of content being produced right now.
Sundance went from getting 250 submissions for 120 (roughly) programming slots back in the early 1990’s, to 15,000+ submissions for virtually the same amount of slots today. This is just one example of course, but illustrates the greater issue at hand…
Tens of thousands of films per year were unable to get seen or sold. Festivals, sales agents and most importantly buyers, have had too much to choose from, leaving 99% of indie films unsold as a result of over-supply.
But in the midst of this crisis we’re now in, the supply/demand dynamic has completely shifted…
Productions of every type – ranging from blockbusters to micro-budget indies – are shut down indefinitely, which is creating a massive drop in supply.
At the same time, demand is exploding. Never have so many people been glued to their screens, desperate to discover new and great content that can serve as a welcome distraction in this crazy time.
I’ve witnessed this reality through discussions with potential distributor/buyers for my feature film Psychosynthesis. While my plan has long been to self-distribute (at least domestically), I am now entertaining more traditional distribution opportunities directly as a result of the increased demand.
Many other filmmakers I’ve spoken to recently have shared similar experiences of buyers aggressively seeking to pick up content right now.
VOD platforms in particular are scrambling to license content to serve their growing audiences, which is becoming more challenging for them by the day.
Obviously this is a good thing for anyone who already has a film in the can and is looking to make a sale. But even for those who aren’t in that position, this market can still be tapped into… At least under the right circumstances.
Those of you who have followed me for any period of time likely know how much I love working with limitations.
Limitations set your creative mind free, and what better way to limit yourself than to produce content entirely from your own home?
I know it’s a crazy idea, and won’t be right for everyone… But hear me out. If you have the time, energy and to a lesser extent gear, there is a whole lot you can do right now. It just requires you to think outside the box.
Consider the 2018 Sundance hit Searching. The entire movie is essentially a screen capture of a computer/webcam that still tells an incredibly suspenseful story. In theory, a film like this could be made without ever leaving the house.
The same could be said about many documentary films, specifically those that rely heavily on archival footage and voiceover. Not every documentary needs to consist of a bunch of talking heads (many of the best don’t).
It’s 100% possible to create a documentary out of thin air, simply by pulling fair use footage from television news, the internet or other sources, and marrying it with well recorded voiceover and a great edit.
Animated films are another easy example. Any filmmaker with a great concept and the ability to animate can make something incredible from home in this very moment.
I have to imagine even micro-budget narrative films are going to made during this period, often with a one-person crew filming their roommate/spouse/friend in the comfort of their own home… Anyone reading this who happens to live with an actor should be getting on this right now!
A movie like Locke (which takes place entirely in one man’s car), could theoretically be produced in your garage. Put up a cheap green screen from Amazon behind the windshield and set the movie wherever you’d like.
I could go on and on… But you get the point.
Most ideas won’t work under these conditions, but some will thrive. So why not exercise our creative muscles and develop a great concept we can actually work on right now?
It’s going to be a while before we can make the movies we were waiting to make before COVID19 hit.
So let’s use our intense limitations to our benefit and take advantage of the increased demand for content in the market – the likes of which we may never see again!
The article above was originally published on my micro-budget weekly newsletter, where I share exclusive content to inspire and educate filmmakers & creative pros. For more articles like this every Sunday, be sure to sign up for the newsletter here, or use the form below.