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September 8 at 10:46am

Ten Steps (Plus One) For How To Survive The Current Indie Producer Hell

By Ted Hope

I was talking to a comrade in the field a bit back, and mapped out this survival strategy for the exceedingly tough times that producing indie film is these days. See it’s simple, right? Just do these ten things (and then a little more) and you got it made (if you don’t have to actually earn a living that is!):

1) Cut all your budgets by 60% — but recognize your fee is going down by an even greater percentage;
2) Meet all the marketing, distribution, publicity, social network, widget & app designers, web strategy, & transmedia story world builders you can possibly meet, because “producing the marketing and distribution” of all your films under $4M has become part of the producer’s job description — but recognize that is going to be a major time-suck on your schedule;
3)Aggregate viable projects under $500K to build a new media distribution apparatus, recognizing the lack of fees and time suck involved — but that the low budget is required to experiment with new platforms with unproven financial models and a multitude is necessary to learn;
4)Continue to try to get one of 10 or so available slots for prestige specialized film budget over $10M so you can actually earn a fee, but recognize the odds are really really low that yours will be the one out of 500 or so that are competing with you;
5)Do everything you can to get a studio picture and/or television series since they are the only ways to legitimize yourself in the industry’s eyes, the quickest ways to promote your brand to potential new fans, and the most likely ways to earn enough money to sustain yourself;
6)Spend some time every day building your own audience and deepen their level of commitment to you by you giving back to them regularly — so that ultimately they will follow you and help promote your work, because you aren’t going to be doing it alone;
7) Find some other way to earn money on a regular basis since the film industry will remain unstable for a very long time and we all need to pay the bills;
8) Fight for affordable health care and education because if you have to go into substantial debt to pay for what should be available to all then you will never be able to consider a career in the arts to begin with or ever again;
9) Try to give back to a younger generation who are much different than you (other than their interest in film) because if things don’t make some substantial changes soon, their won’t be a film industry for you to work in either (i.e. we’ve all done the same things for too long and the system is broken and we don’t seem to know how to fix it) and besides, maybe you will learn something;
10) Keep your overhead as low as possible forever and ever and ever, as you will need to remain very flexible in the days and months to come.
Did I get the list right? What did I leave out? I mean, other than the obvious one of having a large fortune to squander. You do know that this is a quiz, right? I mean, I did leave some things off the list just because the internet likes top ten lists best. And of course because I want to test you. But really there was one, that I thought was obvious and is really why I have an energy to do any blogging or social networking whatsoever. It’s the most crucial if Indie Film will live:
If Indie Film is going to truly survive — and once again flourish –we all have to do everything we can to organize our community, to encourage participation, to share information.
Choose the culture you want.
Get on the bus. Please.
Thank you.

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