by Jason Brubaker
Making a backyard indie is a rite of a passage for all filmmakers looking to “level up” their careers. The process forces you to create a story with the resources you have. Then you’ll need to find a creative (and SAFE) ways to get your story made. For some filmmakers, this might involve a film starring the family dog. And for other filmmakers, the story could be a lot more complex.
Bottom line: When it comes to making a backyard indie, done is better than none!
Making a backyard indie is all about leveraging the the resources you have. You’ll need to find interesting locations, props, wardrobe, and other elements. And you’ll need to use all of these elements without breaking the law, or putting your cast and crew in danger. After this, your next step is to create a compelling story that puts these elements to use.
Here are seven tips to guide you through this process:
1. Find Locations: Our first feature was a terrible zombie movie. In large part, the story came about because we had access to a vacant dude ranch, complete with some dilapidated buildings and horse stables. So we put those elements to use.
2. Find Elements: When I last took inventory of my hometown, I found a whole slew of interesting landmarks, abandoned cars, awesome props (at the local thrift store) and family, friends and also, the local newscaster who would love to have a cameos in my next film.
3. Get Releases: Regardless of the scope and scale of your backyard indie, you will need to get signed releases for any element (and music) that shows up on screen. While it is always advised that you speak with an attorney first – These release templates from entertainment attorney Gordan Firemark may be good to have.
4. Production Insurance: If your backyard indie consists of just you, your dog and the tree in (literally) your backyard, then production insurance may not be at the top of your list. But as soon as you involve cast, crew and locations you don’t personally own – You’ll want to chat with a qualified insurance professional about your needs.
5. Corporate Entity: I know setting up an LLC or some other corporate entity may be a bit of overkill for a no-budget backyard indie. But in the rare event your finished film gets into festivals and eventually lands an awesome distribution deal, then it may behoove you to keep your personal assets separate from your business. Chat with a qualified attorney to gauge your needs.
6. Great Screenplay: Whether you’re making a multimillion dollar studio picture or a no-budget backyard indie, the most essential component to making a great film, is having a great screenplay. So take your time to make it good.
7. Production Schedule: When it comes time to shoot your film, you’ll need to have an ironclad schedule. How many pages will you shoot in one day? How many days will it take to complete your production. Using movie scheduling software can help.
To start the process, take time to answer this question:
Given the resources that I have right now, what is the movie I can make this year?
Once you answer that question, you can take action and make things happen. You don’t need Hollywood to get your film made, marketed and distributed. If you want more information on the process, make sure you grab a copy of the filmmaker action pack.