The challenges of independent filmmaking are many, from scriptwriting to planning around multiple people's schedules to finding funding and finding distribution, the list of hurtles to jump goes on and on. In fact, it's rather amazing when a film is actually made. The Bug Theatre, a venue for local indie film since 2002, is doing its best to help local fimmakers through the grueling but rewarding process. To that end, they put on EFPalooza, a four-day film festival of emerging Colorado filmmakers, this past weekend.
Thursday through Sunday were filled with panel discussions concerning many facets of Indie filmmaking, including business, distribution, new media opportunities, the state of the industry and reasons why anyone in their right mind would want to do it in the first place.
At "Should You Make a Low-Budget Movie?" three panelists and a moderator, all working in the industry in varying capacities, conversed on the subject, the general consensus being that there are different reasons for making a low-budget movie, and you should know what you're motivations are before diving in. Haylar Garcia, writer and director of Do it for Johnny, a documentary about trying to get Johnny Depp on board an indie film, which was screened at the event, said, "If you are going to make one, make it for one of two reasons -- either as a calling card for something greater, or just for the art." The former seemed to work for Garcia, as he is now a writer working on multiple projects in LA.
There was definitely a sense of tempered optimism among the panelists. Films are difficult to make, but the world needs the voices and visions of independent storytellers, seemed to be the message. "Storytelling is too important to be left to the professionals," said panelist Patrick Sheridan, host and program director of the Emerging Filmmakers Project and writer/director of the forthcoming feature film Jimmy Said, which he funded with his and his wife's own money. "Don't wait for someone to give you permission to make a movie... But try not to add to the growing pile of crap that we have in film." A fair warning.
The panel did make some encouraging comments for aspiring filmmakers. Garcia said, "A compelling story shot on VHS tape is better than a poorly written script shot on the best equipment available." More on the business side of things, Mark Grove, a twenty year filmmaking veteran said, "You can make a film with $50,000 and potentially make $600,000 off it, or you can make a film with $600,000 and make $600,000 off it." In other words, there are definitely benefits to making low-budget films.
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After the panel, some short films were screened -- In addition to the discussions, EFPalooza featured film showings by local auteurs, ranging in length from one-minute shorts to feature films. Most fell into the short-film range of five to thirty minutes.
The procedure at the Bug is to show the film and then let the filmmaker get on stage and explain a little about themselves and their film. Then members of the audience can stand up, say their name, give the film an arbitrary rating and ask their question. This format allows for an intimate exchange between viewer and filmmaker and is one of the great values that the Bug Theatre offers in its monthly Emerging Filmmakers Project taking place the third Thursday of every month, of which EFPalooza was a part. For more information about the program, or to submit a film, click here.