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How (and Why) to Wrangle a Volunteer Crew for Your Micro-Budget Movie

How (and Why) to Wrangle a Volunteer Crew for Your Micro-Budget Movie

Arin Crumley is an independent film director whose award-winning debut film “Four Eyed Monsters” was the first feature-length movie released on YouTube. Crumley is currently working on his second feature film, which recently received a grant award from Creative District. In a guest post
below, Crumley writes about how to attract a crew even if you can’t afford to pay them.

READ MORE: 4 Reasons Why Product Placement Can Be Good for Indie Film

Society
would have us believe that money is the main motivator to work
performance, but when a person’s individual growth and learning is taken
into account, it creates an opportunity for them beyond what many
traditional jobs offer. New research that the main drivers of human motivation are actually high
recognition, autonomy and the opportunity to learn and grow. This is
exactly the type of environment that an independent film set creates for
its team. The lesson here is, do not underestimate the value of your ultra low-budget production and what it can offer your team both
personally and professionally. So now that you understand the real worth
of your project, let’s go through the steps in finding your volunteer
crew and making your dream project a reality.

Headhunting

In
addition to spreading the word to friends, colleagues and fans of your past work. it’s also
smart to seek out collaborators you respect.  Local indie film
screenings and film festivals are great places to see talent showcased
and find creatives you might want to work with. You can also search for
talent whose work you respect in online creative communities. For
instance, CreativeDistrict.com is
a site the media has likened to LinkedIn for media creators. Not only was my
second film recently awarded a grant from them, but we’ve been using the
site to list positions and find talent for the completion and marketing
of our film.

Locking Teams

Now that you’ve found the right people, it’s time to get them on board. One might assume this means communicating the
vision of your project in a way that blows them away, but that’s only
part of the equation. You also want to find out who they really are,
what matters to them and how your project is an opportunity that can
feed their current goals. As you make these discoveries and share how
your film can further their objectives, you’ll find crew members
solidifying their involvement despite the fact there is no immediate
financial compensation.

Movies require dedication to the entire process
and unless you nurture the relationships you’ve cultivated, you’ll find
team members dropping like flies. Yes, now it is time to deliver on the
promises you made in the previous phase – and that is true for both
parties. Communication is key here as in all relationships. If you provide regular conversations evaluating each executed effort that your
volunteer crew is a part of on the film, the experience can become
highly educational for all involved.

Soft Pay

Just because you don’t have hard cash to pay your crew doesn’t mean
you shouldn’t reward them should distribution miraculously reap heavy
profits. Soft pay treats your team like cash investors that will get
money from day one (as opposed to after expenses have been paid).
Although the chances your small indie film will turn a profit are slim,
it is possible, and the offer will be appreciated by your crew
members. Offering soft pay at the beginning is also a good way to secure
a contract which otherwise might feel nebulous due to the lack of
compensation. You can consider a site like coinkite.com to automatically send royalties to your team based on percentages you define.

In Conclusion

It all ultimately comes down to your relationships
with people.  Listen to what matters to your crew and find ways to
provide encouragement throughout the process of making your movie. You’ll soon
find that you hold the keys to the vehicle your team has invested in, so
be responsible with this power and honor this position of leadership
they have agreed to put you in by making them all proud and completing a
great film. Speaking of collaboration and communication, thanks to filmmakers Fritz Donnelly and Christie Strong for their help in the creation of this article, to Karl Jacob for
providing work space and to CreativeDistrict.com.

To watch Crumley’s first feature film and behind-the-scenes online series click here. For more information, visit arincrumley.com.

READ MORE: Check Out Creative District, the LinkedIn for Filmmakers

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