Reflections On Being An Indie Film Producer #6

Become That Hero—The Golden Rule of Movie Production

Embarking on your journey as an indie producer isn't only about making captivating films. It's about the leadership, character, and integrity you bring to the process. How you steer your project impacts not just the end result but the journey of everyone involved. Let's explore how to be the indie film producer you'd want to work with.

Embody High Ethics

Trustworthiness is like gold in the film industry. People talk, and your reputation will often precede you, so make sure it speaks volumes about your character. Be transparent in your dealings, honor agreements, and always stand by your word. It's not just about adhering to legalities; it's about building a legacy of respect and integrity. Do this, and people will want to work with you.

Put Your People First

While films inevitably demand long hours and strenuous effort, always prioritize the well-being of your team. Recognize when they need breaks, and ensure a safe working environment, both physically and mentally. The more valued your team feels, the more they'll invest in your shared vision.

In Blood Pledge, safety was a top priority for us. This included having an armorist on set for the scenes in which we used firearms (never loaded, never pointed at an actor!), as well as our choices for special effects and other prop elements.

Treat Your Team Better Than Your Granny

While you’re filming, the crew and cast are your family. Listen, support, and recognize a job well done to bring out the best in them. Put ego aside and make that fresh pot of coffee or save the last muffin for the camera guy. Show gratitude often, celebrate the wins, and to the best of your ability, ensure they have the resources they need to do their best work.

A little compassion, respect, and acknowledgement go a long way. When your crew feels valued, they'll give their best, day in and day out.

Remember, Actors Are People Too

As an indie producer, it's tempting to immerse yourself so deeply in your characters that you overlook the actors as individuals with feelings, challenges, and lives beyond your film. While their personal matters are beyond your control, you can value their expertise, heed their feedback, and prioritize their comfort, particularly during intense scenes. By creating a nurturing and supportive atmosphere, you empower them to give their best performances.

Finally, being a star in the indie film industry isn't about fame or accolades. It's about the impact you leave on people's lives. By leading with ethics, compassion, and mutual respect, you not only craft memorable films but also shape unforgettable experiences.

Lights, camera, now lead with kindness.

You can see the results of our collaboration here: Blood Pledge

Reflections On Being An Indie Film Producer #5

The Creative Adventure Begins: Getting Ready to Make Your Movie

Becoming an indie producer goes beyond a passion for films. It demands persistence, commitment, and the resilience to push through challenges. Time to talk about some of those challenges.

Revising the Story (Or Finding Another One)

You might have started your journey inspired by a story that intrigued you or tugged at your heartstrings. Now that you know your budget, it’s time to refine that story to match, or consider looking for a story that already does.

We lost count of the number of revisions we wrote for Blood Pledge. Our first draft had a large cast, and all kinds of big movie stunts and scenes--all far beyond our modest budget. We ended up with six actors and a story that delivered the suspense and thriller/scifi moments we wanted, but with an emphasis on stronger character development. In the end, we liked the result a lot better, and as mentioned in Collect Your Allies: Building a Collaborative Network, this was the script that won over Gib Jaffe, as well as our actors.

Now is the time to put emotion aside and ask yourself if the story you’ve chosen will be compelling and is affordable using the resources you have. Will it resonate with your target audience? Will it entice actors, editors, composers, and other crucial talent? Be brutally honest with yourself. If there’s anything lacking in the story, put together feedback sessions, do those rewrites, and create a better story.

Find the Location

Every story needs its stage. Location scouting is a blend of artistic vision and logistics. Whether it's a bustling cityscape, a serene countryside, or an isolated cabin, the backdrop should enhance your narrative. When hunting for locations, consider factors like accessibility, budget constraints, and shooting permissions (see The Antagonist Strikes—with Legalities for an overview of the legal side of indie film making). The right location doesn't just support the story. It becomes a character in its own right.

Find the People

Your crew and cast breathe life into your project. Seek out individuals who align with your vision, whether that’s a cinematographer with a unique visual style, or an actor who embodies your protagonist perfectly. Networking, auditions, and interviews play crucial roles here. Remember, it's not just about talent, but also about who will bring a high-level of dedication and teamwork to the project.

Find the Tools

From cameras to sound equipment, the tools you choose can make or break your film’s quality. Depending on your budget, decide whether to buy, rent, or borrow. Research the latest technology, read reviews, and even test equipment before committing. A solid toolkit ensures that your story translates flawlessly from script to screen.

To conclude, indie filmmaking is an intricate process of creativity and practicality. While passion fuels the journey, attention to these vital components ensures a harmonious production process. Keep grinding, keep dreaming, and let every challenge shape your masterpiece.

You can see the movie here:

Blood Pledge

Reflections on Being an Indie Film Producer #4

The Antagonist Strikes—with Legalities

First, some legalities of our own. This article is not a substitute for professional legal advice. We aren’t lawyers. We’re just indie filmmakers who made a movie discussing some of what we learned.

While the core of indie filmmaking is your passion and vision, an often overlooked antagonist lurks in the shadows waiting to strike. What is this unseen opposition? Legalities. But with the right tools and understanding, you can navigate this tricky terrain and ensure your project’s safety. The following essential components will help you with this process.


When collaborating with other producers, actors, crew, or even investors, a clear and concise contract lays down the rules of engagement. Contracts define roles, responsibilities, and remunerations, ensuring everyone is on the same page. Before filmmaking even begins, ensure all involved parties have signed on the dotted line. This not only secures mutual agreements, but also prevents potential disputes in the future.

NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements)

If you're sharing your script, business strategy, or any confidential details about your project, an NDA is essential. It ensures that the recipient of this information won't disclose or misuse it. It’s also a protective measure that keeps your project’s unique elements under wraps until you're ready for the grand reveal.

Never be shy about requiring an NDA from whomever you are working with. When we were putting together our team for Blood Pledge, we never had an issue with someone signing an NDA. The key was making our NDAs straightforward and focused on our project.


In the complex process of filmmaking, expenses can pile up quickly. With everything from equipment rentals to on-set meals, always ensure that you get receipts for every expense you have. They not only serve as proof of those expenses but are crucial for budget tracking and potential tax benefits. Plus, if any financial disputes ever arise, they stand as undeniable evidence.

In summary, while the creative aspects of filmmaking often steal the limelight, it's these behind-the-scenes legalities that ensure a smooth production process. By staying vigilant, informed, and prepared, you can tackle any legal curveballs thrown your way, ensuring your cinematic masterpiece remains safe.

With a firm business foundation, you’re now ready to launch into the creative phase of making your indie movie.

Dan's addition:

Don't forget about film insurance!  An absolute must.  Filmmaking by its very nature involves interactions which can lead to injury. Especially in a horror film.

We found that we had to rewrite the script in order to keep the premiums down.  The following blow up insurance costs:

  • Guns
  • Stunts
  • Pyrotechnics (explosions and fire)
  • Aerial (having actors above the ground on anything)

Of the four above, we had three in our script. We thought we had our budget ready until we investigated insurance premiums where they give you a checklist of every possible aspect of feature film production.

As a result we eliminated two and agreed to not use any kind of ammunition in the guns and rifle as well as not having ammunition on set.  We added the effect in post production.

You can check it out here:

Reflections on Being an Indie Film Producer #3

Collect Your Allies: Building a Collaborative Network

Indie filmmaking is as much about connections as it is about storytelling. The right team can turn your cinematic dream into a reality, and the wrong team can mangle the process so badly, you think you’ll never get things back on track. As you start this phase of your journey, consider the following steps to creating a powerful and supportive team.

Who Do You Know?

Start building your team with people you already know. Connect (or reconnect) with friends, family, past classmates, or former colleagues who might have hidden talents, insights, or know professionals in the film industry. Sharing your vision could lead to invaluable partnerships or mentorships. If your efforts draw a blank, a great way to network from scratch is taking classes focused on the industry or joining a group of like-minded individuals.

Who Do They Know?

The strength of networking often lies in its ripple effect. Every person you know links you to another potential ally. By discussing your project and intentions, you can find access to an even wider circle of skilled professionals and enthusiasts. By expressing your genuine interest in the indie film making process and discussing your project passionately, you can tap into extended networks to discover talents and resources previously out of reach. For Blood Pledge, it was Dan’s connections coupled with our script that brought Gib Jaffe of cult classic, They Live fame, on board as our editor.

Who Can Help You?

Within this expanded network, identify those who believe in your project and want to join you in your hero’s journey. Maybe it's an experienced cinematographer, a budding screenwriter, or someone with knowledge about film distribution. Pinpointing and reaching out to these individuals can significantly elevate the quality of your project. Always be open to connecting with others in this industry.

Who Can You Help?

In the world of independent movie making, collaboration is a two-way street. While it’s important for you seek out expertise and resources, it’s equally important to offer your own unique skills and insights where applicable. Maybe a peer needs guidance on film promotion, or a novice is searching for hands-on production experience. Helping others not only strengthens your bond with the community, it also reinforces the spirit of collective growth. Be generous, it's the right way to do business.

To summarize, the adventure of filmmaking is rarely, if ever, a solitary journey. It's a harmonious blend of individual vision and collective effort. By strategically connecting with and supporting your allies, you pave the way for a richer, more impactful movie experience for your audience.

Check out Blood Pledge here:  Vimeo

Reflections On Being An Indie Film Producer #2

The Call to Adventure: Your First Steps as an Indie Movie Producer

Stepping into the world of independent filmmaking is like embarking on an exhilarating adventure. The path is uncharted, and full of opportunities, challenges, and surprises. Before you start, take a breath and lay a solid foundation for your journey. And by the way, we’re not financial advisors, just indie filmmakers who made a movie discussing some of what we learned.

Show Me the Money

Budgets may not have the same glamour and sex appeal as movie premieres, but they’re the bedrock on which films are built. Securing funds is your first big hurdle and crucial to everything that follows. The following suggestions are some of the ways to find the funding you’ll need.

Crowdfunding: Platforms like Kickstarter or Indiegogo allow you to present your vision to the public. If people resonate with your idea, they may pledge money to see it come to life. Research what marketing materials you’ll need to showcase your project and to inspire people to help.

Don’t overlook the potential of this method, even if the amount generated isn’t enough for the full budget. For our movie, Blood Pledge, crowdfunding is what got the project across the post-production finish line.

Investors: These are individuals or groups who provide funds in exchange for a return on investment. To attract investors, showcase your project in a manner that sparks their interest and aligns them with your vision. Elements like a great logline, pitch package, or the script itself, can inspire confidence, as well as a solid business plan are essential. The internet is a valuable resource for finding information and guidance on creating these elements.

Savings: If you've saved up money for this dream, it's time to put it to good use. Just be sure to budget wisely.

Create an LLC

Think of filmmaking as a business venture because it is. Forming an LLC, (Limited Liability Company) is a strategic move. It provides a protective barrier for your personal assets against any film-related financial risk. Plus, having an LLC lends credibility when you're discussing your project with potential partners or investors. Form your LLC in the State where you’re company’s office is located, even if that’s your home, as was the case with our movie, Blood Pledge.

Open a Business Bank Account

Once your LLC is in place, your next step is the bank. A business account ensures that your personal finances remain separate from your film’s funds. This distinction is crucial not only for clarity, but also for ease with tracking expenses, managing budgets, and handling any income from the movie. It also helps when it's time to do your taxes.

Embarking on your indie film journey is a exciting endeavor. While the spotlight often shines on the final product, this groundwork is what truly sets the stage for success. With passion, preparation, and a dash of entrepreneurial spirit, you're well on your way.

Lights, camera, action!

Check it out at Vimeo!

Reflections on Being an Indie Film Producer #1

Your Hero’s Journey: Becoming an Independent Film Producer

Embarking on the path of independent filmmaking is a brave and exciting choice filled with surprises and challenges. If you’re driven to tell stories through film, you’ve already taken the first step. Now what?

This series will help to answer that question for you. Starting at the beginning.

What is an Indie Movie?

And indie, or independent movie, is a movie made outside the traditional production companies of Hollywood, like our movie, Blood Pledge. Indie movies are usually made with less money and resources, but more flexibility and passion. Think of them as cozy, local coffee shops in contrast to the big coffee chains: each one is unique, personal, and crafted with a lot of heart.

Why Make an Indie Movie?

While it’s true that choosing the indie route means taking the path less traveled, here's why it's worth it:

Freedom: Without the constraints of big studios, you have the freedom to tell the story you want, how you want to tell it.

Originality: Indie movies often stand out because they're different. They can explore unique topics and tell stories in fresh ways.

Growth: Starting with an indie film offers a hands-on learning experience in filmmaking, allowing you to navigate errors and grow within a more manageable scope. Your first film may kick your butt, but the education of those experiences will carry over to all your other projects in a positive way.

Find the Story

At the heart of any film, big or small, is a story. As an indie film producer, that adventure starts when you find a story that resonates with you. Maybe it's a personal experience, a tale you've heard, or even a cause you're passionate about (though always keep in mind that your main purpose is to entertain, not preach). Always remember that every aspect of movie making springboards from the story you choose.

To sum it up, becoming an independent film producer is a hero's journey in its own right. It's about passion, persistence, and the thrill of creating something truly your own. Dive in, trust the process, and let your story shine.

See it here:  Blood Pledge