Once again it's Thanksgiving here in the United States, and so I would like to give another quick list of things to be thankful for. This time I would like to state specifically what there is for us independent film makers to be thankful for.
1. Cheap equipment. It's all coming down in price every day, and while the economy suffering is not good in general, it has helped costs for equipment stay uninflated. Stuff costs what it needs to, not what it can be sold for just because it's the new thing. They want it in your hands, so they take the margin they can make.
2. PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Love it or hate it, it got the studios hungry again. It's been some time since BLAIR WITCH fever cooled, so the world of micro budget film had once again become local festivals, convention distribution, and many unopened envelopes containing movies like yours getting loaded into the dumpster every week. Now if it looks home made, as long as you've incorporated that into the narrative, or have some interesting gags and tricks that the look of the film implies you're incapable of, you've got a shot of a small pick up and maybe even some retail presence. Especially as big budget glossy stuff keeps underwhelming.
3. The underwhelming big budget glossy stuff. Yes, Rob Zombie's HALLOWEEN 2 did make more money than most of us could hope for. Still, when it cost a lot more than we would spend and got the reviews it did, it served as another warning against doing remakes and sequels, at least for a while. Sure we will always see those produced, but any time one fails it may convince a producer or two on the fence about his next investment to look for something fresh and original instead.
4. Home editing software. We can do so much on a computer now it's boggling. I would guess that an incredibly small percentage of today's emerging indie creators have ever spliced film. If you took some nice classes, or worked at a theater, that's the exception. I used to use razors on movie trailers to split the audio soundtrack from the video, counting frames for timing, taping the hell out of the project so it wouldn't crumble or jam as it went through a projector. Now I watch remixes, mash-ups, and fan dubs and think of what my fingertips would look like if I'd waited until now. Instead, I'm just glad I did it the hard way. The easy way rarely feels like work to me.
5. Effects software. Color correction, chroma key, split screen, titling, animation, layers, image stabilization, mattes, surround sound, and so much more. All of these things used to be farmed off to separate post-production houses, worked on ignorant of each other, then reassembled to see if it all came together as planned, or if it had to be redone. Now with nondestructive programs referencing the same source footage or integrating all elements in a proper workflow, one person can do it all. Tweaks don't restart the post production from scratch. With a lot of time reading the whole manual and practicing each program, you can do the work of twenty to a hundred people in the olden days during the weekends, shoot during the week, and retain a ridiculous amount of control.
6. Creative control. We can make things cheap now. Self-afforded movies are becoming increasingly accepted. You make it out of your extra cash from your second job, knock out a project on weekends, and never worry about where your next meal will come from. You don't have to answer to producers. You just make what you like then share it with the world. Right now we can afford to shoot in high definition, with the right skills and talent make something as professional looking as half the stuff out there that actually is professional, and it can be the silliest and most unmarketable idea in the world. And it will probably find an audience.
7. The New Audience. There are a lot of people out there sick of tradition. Comedies are getting smart, edgy, or mean because we've been starved from that for so long. Stuff that is weird, silly, or contradictingly niche, like talking evil horses or super villain musical blogs, become huge cult sensations and quoted by those in the know. Horror sitcoms, LARP miniseries, the further adventures of Mario Lopez under mind control, Chad Vader... If you have an idea that appeals to you and you make it competently, you will find some folks that embrace it. There are always people looking for that thing they never even considered.
8. Ideas. We all have them. We have the tools, we have talent. Let's get the ideas knocked out so we can get to the next one.
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Patrick hails from Baltimore, MD, where playing by the rules is frowned upon. Only average things come from playing it safe.|
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