DIY Filmmaking


Part of growing as a filmmaker is listening to others who have been there before you and learning from their experiences. During this year's IndieMemphis Film Festival I had the opportunity to sit in on a panel discussion called "DIY Movies!: Past, Present, & Future."

On the panel were two filmmakers - Chris Strompolos (Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation) and Kentucker Audley (Open Five and the curator of They spoke about their respective projects and offered advice to filmmakers working with shoestring budgets. Here are a few lessons bullet points from their discussion:

  • Build a community by starting with those closest to you. Mine the talents of close friends and family members. Branch out from there. Ask those contacts to loop in some of their friends who may be interested in getting involved.
  • You will be surprised what you can get if you simply ask. It might not happen the very first time you ask, but be persistent. Ask for what you need and be specific. Also, when asking for a favor, focus on the benefit to that individual, organization, or business. Give them something in return for their favor. How can they benefit by fulfilling your request? 
  • Smaller communities are more receptive to film production. Therefore, they will be more likely to provide you with what you need at low/no cost to you. 
  • Be excited and passionate about your project. Others will feed off of your enthusiasm and will  be more inclined to get involved. 
  • When building a crew, ask them what they want out of the project. Some people are willing to work for credit only. Others need payment. Others may just need gas to/from the location and/or food.
  • Be decent to everyone on set. If people have a good experience, they will be more willing to promote your film, and that's crucial when faced with a low/no marketing budget. 
  • When trying to make money on the back end, partner with others. This may mean finding a charity relevant to your film and partnering for screenings where a percentage of proceeds go to the charity. You might rent a venue, sell advertising to local businesses and screen your film. You might partner with local artists and musicians and turn the screening into an event. 

What other advice do you have for DIY filmmakers? Leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.