Thursday, October 18, 2007

DIY Moviemaking: Spending Time vs. Spending Money

In most productions, you usually have just one or the other. And the benefits/drawbacks are pretty obvious, but some are not. For example, when Shiro's Head started to become a reality and not just an idea, we were looking for ways to get it done. "Can we actually make this movie? And if we can, then how are we going to fund it?". We got it! Let's get some investors to supply the finances while we focus on just the creative. This way, it'll allow us to keep our production schedule, move things along faster and we get the budget that we need. Needless to say, it didn't work out that way.

But It's My Baby!

Like most scenarios, the potential investors wanted to make a few adjustments before they jumped on board. Totally understandable. However, our direction of the project didn't gel with theirs and before anyone committed to anything, we decided not to go the route of investors and to just cling to the vision that we had for the project and to do it ourselves.

This forced us to take a long, serious look at what the project meant to us and how far we were willing to go to materialize the production ourselves. By doing this, it meant that we would have full control over the creative content of the project with no holds barred; but of course there's the yin to the yan - we'll have full control, yes - but without any money. Wow. That was definitely a wake up call.

Pondering Your Production

Even though investors might want to make changes, they supply the cash. To give this up means that you give up the luxury of a secured budget. At least the convenience of an instant budget, anyway. And without a secured budget, it compromises alot of the production ideas for your movie - talent payment, wardrobe, props, locations, overall production costs, etc. So before you make the decision to go about it alone...I suggest to take some time and think this part's not always for everybody.

No Money = Creative Cats = Tired Dogs
So once we decided to become a full-fledged do-it-yourself independent production, we had to make the adjustments. This meant that we were now not only writers and directors, we had become the Unit Production Manager, Location Scout, Casting Director, Sound Mixer, Craft Services, Production Coordinator, Script Supervisor, Hair and Makeup and pretty much everything else.

Now...don't get me wrong, being creative guys, we were more than capable of doing everything we needed to do to get this movie made, in fact, it's pretty fun to do everything yourself. However, (you won't realize this until you experience it) by going the route of a DIY flick and becoming everything to everyone - it won't cost you much money, but it will cost you alot of your time.

After the all the admin work and scheduling you'll have to do, you'll barely have enough energy. And if you're not careful, this is where your project will suffer. Then, before you know it, because you're short on energy, you'll grow short on creativity which will take away from your patience which will take away from your mood which will take away from your fun which (worst of all) may become evident and infectious to your cast and crew and before you know it, you'll be so miserable that you forget why you're doing this amazing movie in the first place!

Preparation and Perspiration
So, before you embark on a totally DIY project, do yourself a favor and consider the elements of risk and prepare yourself for it. We were lucky. There were two of us on watch all the time and we kept each other on our toes even when things got bleak. We were able to pull ourselves through it all and maintain our sanity. Sometimes I'll have a relapse here and there (like in my foley sessions), but then I'll be reminded to step back and remember to enjoy it. Heck, some DIY projects start and never finish. So just be prepared; know what it means to go the route of a DIY flick and be prepared for an adventure you won't soon forget.