31 Jan 2015
Important Personal Experiences
Important experiences that can be very useful in micro/low-budget underground filmmaking:
1_ONLY work with a person who you are fully synchronized with, one who you can 100% trust and believe in.
2_Under no circumstances ask actors/actresses (amateur or professional) to perform in your films for free. Avoid this pitfall and pay everyone who performs in front of your lens. While it may save money (and sometimes the performer could demand nothing or very little in terms of payment, insisting that the job was a favour etc) it will create hassles and potentially deeper problems down the line. I have learned some quite painful lessons in this way, even when performers refuse payment upfront, there should be some mechanism in place to reimburse them for their time. Every performer should be compensated for their time and energy somehow, payment for skills/services is the most basic, professional gesture in the creative arts and should be maintained as the baseline even for the lowest budget productions.
3_Always make sure that the actors/actresses sign a performance/talent release form. Even in your wildest dreams you cannot imagine the dangers and potentially horrific situations that await you if such contracts are not signed.
4_Never wait or depend on other parties/agencies to complete a project; it will be a noose around your neck. Promises and pledges are so easy to give and are extremely hard to keep, it is a zero currency. A project can be irreparably damaged after suffering a lengthy delay or a series of postponements, and it is all the worse if these deferrals are made simply because you are awaiting someone else’s creative input. If you feel things are taking up more than the allocated time simply terminate the situation and do the job by yourself. Through doing this you will discover even more creative processes and methods; your sights will widen and intensify. The whole process of filmmaking (at any level) is being a constant student. There is no mastery.
5_To have the ability to decline/reject a project, collaboration or screening if the situation is not compatible or complimentary. Having the courage to say “NO” can actually improve and enhance you as a filmmaker.
6_Everything in cinema (and indeed the art world) is about money. This is an unfortunate and horrible fact. You can never change this but you can find your own way around it to healthily shape your practice over time.