8 destructive habits of an indie filmmaker

indie-filmmaker-destructive-mistakes
Making independent films is what many of us do, but sometimes we overlook some crucial elements that have a big impact on the outcome. Of course, we do our best with the little budget we have, but some habits are just totally counter-productive.

Here is a list of 8 things that tend to degrade the film’s potential:

1. Forget about sound design

The amount of times I have seen an indie film with crap sound or very little focus put into the soundtrack overall reminds me how difficult it is for us to get this part right. Of course as an audience we’re not expecting 117 layers of sound effects on the track, but still, bringing more depth to this area can have a psychological impact on viewers. Sounds can really bring a whole new dimension to a film and it’s the most overlooked element in a film’s production.

Hollywood has conditioned us to expect good sound and when it’s not there, we get an allergic, “can’t be f****d to watch this,” reaction.

2. Accidentally shoot 1080i on a 1080p camera

Some people might prefer 1080i but I’m just not a fan of seeing a jolty, digital image that really looks like a home movie. Interlaced images have a different feel and when a camera can do progressive, filmmakers should be choosing that mode only.

3. Use omni-directional mics for dialogue

Again, on a low budget shoot, having a cheap mic that records the whole room is an epic mistake. In fact, the movie shouldn’t even be made if that’s the kind of standard that will be used to capture people’s dialogues. Dubbing is also difficult in a low budget situation, so filmmakers should fix most of the sound on set with the correct gear.

4. Promote the film only once it is 100% completed

Not promoting a film until it’s complete is a huge opportunity lost. While making a film there are many marketing opportunities to start developing interest for the release. Just to give you an example, Disney announced the next Star Wars movie shooting in 2016 and ‘Star Wars 7’ only just started filming.

5. Work 18+ hours a day

The body can cope with a bit of stress but do 18-hour days every day on a longer shoot and your filmmaking abilities will soon start to break down. Try to pace it out, and if you lack resources, do it over several weeks.

6. Eat only sandwiches, or pizzas on shoot dates

Something that is overlooked here is the diet we punish ourselves with when shooting a low budget film. Sandwiches are good but everyday, sometimes during two meals, is counter-productive. Eating too much wheat can make people tired, lethargic and bloated, so mix the pizza with some fresh vegetables!

7. Have no insurance cover at all

It’s a good idea to get insurance especially on location. If you’re filming in someone’s house or your own, you can get away with it (but I don’t recommend it). Covering equipment and crew with insurance is a must, even for low budget professional films.

8. Rely on one hard drive to host all the footage of the film

Hard drives do fail, and if you’re backing up everything on just your laptop or one external drive, don’t wait too long to make a copy. Even water damage, corrosion and other environmental factors can fry circuits (as I have discovered) so don’t take the risk with your film. Plan for a backup on day 1.

Check out our other filmmaking guides to get more tips on what not to do (and of course what you can do to make a better film).

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