As you can see on the main site, we’ve started the casting process. This is always my favorite part. So far I’ve submitted to Back Stage East, Myspace, and LIfilm.com. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to launch a full-on web campaign to get as many headshots in as possible. While casting is always a blast for me, it is also a warm welcome after a long haul of the more-frustrating parts of filmmaking. Since no one really took a lot of time to tell me all of the parts that suck about making a movie, I’m going to drop them right here for all you budding filmmakers.
5. Money. Now this goes without saying, but no matter how prepared you think you are for how much this will cost, it will cost more. Before I got into this project, I read a lot of books on low-budget, renegade-type filmmaking. I thought “yeah, we’re going to get in there guerilla-style and get what we need and get out, and cut every cost possible.” And it can be done that way, but it just didn’t turn out that way for me. I’ve surrounded myself with a crew that likes to “play by the books,” which is better because it provides a more professional looking product in the end. But still, we’re not that “let’s run on to private property, shoot real fast, and take off” crew I thought we’d be. The good news is that with all of this boring paperwork and these technicalities, my ass is covered from every angle. Still, so many expenses will pop up that you’re not ready for. And things will go wrong. But speaking of paperwork...
4. Insurance. In all the books I’ve read, the chapter that was missing the most should’ve been called “Everything You Need to Know About Insurance.” First of all, you need to insure a LOT of stuff. I’m insuring the equipment that my DP uses, some of the locations that we’re shooting at…I even need to insure the auditorium we’re using for casting! In areas like where I live, it seems that no one will let you do anything anywhere without insurance. And you can’t blame them…I mean, they have the right to cover their asses too. But this is an expense that I don’t think any amateur filmmaker is ever prepared for. Plus, it’s not a walk in the park to get liability insurance. Major companies, like Geiko, don’t even handle that type of insurance in New York State. I had to make many calls before I found a friendly, local firm that would help me out. Now I’m waiting 3-5 business days for a quote for one location.
3. Free Help. Here’s the thing about getting free help from friends. Unless they’re big into filmmaking themselves, 90% of them are all talk. It sucks but it’s true. When you’re fantasizing about a script you’ve yet to write, and you’re running it by your buddies, they’ll all be real quick to volunteer help. But when the time comes to ask for favors, either they’ve lost interest or they don’t have the time. Again, you can’t really blame them. This is YOUR project, not theirs. They’ve got other priorities. When they volunteered to help you, they were under the impression that they’d get to help with a fun part or two, and then see their name in the credits. They don’t consider that they might actually have to WORK. If you get one friend who puts in the effort to truly help out from beginning to end (for free), you hang on to that friend for life. You are in their debt.
2. Time. If you’re a nine-to-fiver like me, and you’re doing all of this film stuff in the evenings or weekends, then you understand the frustrations of time. A lot of stuff I need to do involves the bank, the post office, numerous law offices, etc. But you see, they’re all nine-to-fivers too. This simply means that none of these places are open when I get home from work. Some of them might be open for a few hours on Saturday, so every week I find myself driving around town on Saturday morning racing to get as much down as possible. Banking is the worst. My business account is with Washington Mutual, which is the best for what they offer. Yet they’re open for about five minutes on Saturdays. This is probably why they can offer the best rates for your account…because they don’t have to pay for too many employee hours. I started planning for this movie around Sept ’06, and it felt like there was so much time. But time is never on your side when you’re making a movie, and now I’m racing to make my goal to start shooting in Sept ’07.
1. Ordering. I’m learning a lot here with my first crack at a motion picture, but the one beginner’s mistake I keep making deals with ordering. As in, how to order events. I could have saved so much time if I knew how to order things a little better. For example, I filed for a business, and THEN got a business PO Box. This is minor, but I should’ve got the PO Box first before anything else (so I’d have the business address when I filed). I also should’ve written the treatment before the script, signed all location contracts before casting, etc. The problem with ordering is that so many things are dependent on so many other things. Even right now, there are dozens of next steps I need to take, but I can’t figure out which one to take first.
This might be the most important blog on filmmaking that I’ve written yet. If you’re even considering doing a major project of your own, please please print this out and tape it to your fridge. It might save you a day or work, or it might save you a few hundred dollars. The scary thing is that there are still so many unexpected things left to learn. There might be another list just like this one within a week. Who knows. That’s what makes filmmaking so damn scary. But is it worth it?
Oh you bet your ass it is.