Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Steve Carell Redefined His Career By Surprising Everyone in 'Foxcatcher' Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Watch: Ellar Coltrane on the 'Brutal' Experience of Watching 'Boyhood' After Living It Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Mortem Tyldum Explains Why Alan Turing Was the Right Subject For His First English-Language Film Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Why Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’ is a Great, Unexpected Awards Season Frontrunner Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 
Watch: Patricia Arquette on Stripping Away Ego to Get to the Heart of 'Boyhood' 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived 'Whiplash' Breakout Miles Teller Has Officially Arrived Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Michael Keaton Dug Deep to Deliver the Best Performance of His Career in 'Birdman' Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Mark Ruffalo Explains Why Dave Schultz Was One of the Most Complex Characters He's Ever Played Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Keira Knightley on 'The Imitation Game' and Why Awards Matter Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Katherine Waterston On the Good and Bad of Working With Paul Thomas Anderson Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Emma Stone Proved She Can Do It All in 2014 Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Jon Stewart is Off to a Strong Start with Directorial Debut 'Rosewater' Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Awards Spotlight: Don't Be Surprised When J.K. Simmons Takes Home Oscar Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Jessica Chastain Proved She's a Total Chameleon in 2014 Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Laura Poitras on 'CITIZENFOUR,' The Most Dangerous Work She's Ever Done Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Jake Gyllenhaal On Doing Very Bad Things in 'Nightcrawler' Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Channing Tatum Explains Why It Took Him Eight Years to Have the ‘Balls’ for ‘Foxcatcher’ Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Ethan Hawke Didn't Know That Richard Linklater Would Bring 'Boyhood' Home So Well Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie Jack O'Connell Explains What It’s Like to Work For Angelina Jolie 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey 'Red Army' Director Gabe Polsky Reveals the Story of Soviet Hockey How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season How Felicity Jones is Getting Noticed This Awards Season Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' Edward Norton Goes Full-Blown For Alejandro González Iñárritu in 'Birdman' How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking How Eddie Redmayne Transformed His Body and Mind to Become Stephen Hawking Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Oscar Isaac Explains How 'A Most Violent Year' Fits With His Other Roles Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh Timothy Spall Almost Went Mad to Play 'Mr. Turner' For Mike Leigh 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film 'Gone Girl' Composer Atticus Ross: How to Write a Score Without Seeing the Film How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake How to Play James Brown, By Chadwick Boseman: Study the Man, Listen to Drake Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Chris Rock on Why Making 'Top Five' Was a No-Brainer Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Steve James and Chaz Ebert Tackled 'Life Itself' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' Bennett Miller Explains Why He Had to Make 'Foxcatcher' How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Do You Roll Six Movies Into One? 'Wild Tales' Director Damian Szifron Explains How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' How Rosario Dawson Stole the Show From Chris Rock in 'Top Five' Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alan Hicks: From Drummer-Surfer to Oscar-Shortlist Filmmaker Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Alejandro González Iñárritu: 'Birdman' Could Have Been 'so wrong' Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable Amir Bar-Lev Likes to Make People a Little Uncomfortable

10 Unconventional Steps to Get Your Indie Film Out in the World

By David Greenspan | Indiewire May 20, 2014 at 3:19PM

Director David Greenspan details the unlikely and unconventional path he went to get his debut indie feature seen.
2
5150 Mall Cop Now on VOD
"5150 Mall Cop"

Where do you go after winning the Palme d'Or at Cannes for your first short film? For director/editor David Greenspan, who became the first USC student film to win the Palme d’Or for short films at the 54th Cannes Film Festival (with his graduate thesis film "Bean Cake"), the path to getting his feature film debut out into the world has been circuitous. Though his first feature film, a dark comedy called "51/50 Mall Cop," starring Kathleen Robertson, premiered in competition at the 2005 Slamdance festival, it's only now available on digital platforms. Below Greenspan details in 10 not-so-easy steps how he made the film and finally got it seen.

Step 1

Go to film school.  Make a thesis film.  Win a Palme d'Or for Best Short Film at Cannes with thesis film.

Step 2

Have a producer who saw thesis film at Cannes approach you and ask if you have any scripts.

Send him a very mainstream sports comedy script. Have him politely reject that and ask if you have other more interesting, original, or personal projects. Send him a friend's script about a mall security guard who loses his right arm in a freak accident and then falls in love with one of the guards who replaces him.  

Step 3

When producer falls in love with that script and hires a casting director, thank your lucky stars that you're going to shoot a real feature! Meet a lot of talented up-and-coming actors for coffee. Hire a few and reject others. Even the ones you reject will go onto great success (e.g. Jason Siegel, Johnny Galecki). 

Step 4

Shoot film in Albuquerque, New Mexico for 30 days.  (A luxury for a low-budget project.)

Step 5 

Quit day job and spend next year editing the film and working on the score with the composer of "Napoleon Dynamite." Show film to Billy Idol's business manager in hopes of getting him to recommend it to Billy so that they will give you a cheap deal on the music rights to "White Wedding." (A song crucial to the film.)

Step 6

Get rejected from Sundance but take the film to Slamdance and hope it's discovered. Hire a producer’s rep. Get no offers for distribution. Realize that Hollywood dream of becoming a big time director will have to wait.  Learn the producer has run out of money to clear key songs like "White Wedding."

Step 7

Give up hope of ever getting the film distributed.  Pursue work as a picture editor on TV shows (such as "Grey's Anatomy").

Step 8

Use experience as picture editor and recut the film, taking out 12 minutes. Replace most of the songs with songs by friends' bands that they will give you on the cheap. Ask producer to hire a new music supervisor who completes the task of clearing “White Wedding."

Step 9

Cut a trailer for the film.  Hire a new producer's rep. Take the film all over town. Get lots more rejections. 

Step 10

Have a distributor [Indican] finally say, "We just like the film." Breathe sigh of relief.  Now start worrying about how to publicize the fact that the film is out there! 

Watch a trailer for "51/50 Mall Cop" below:


Los Angeles-based director/editor David Greenspan graduated from Harvard University in 1994 where he studied Economics and East Asian Studies. In 2001,Greenspan graduated from USC with an MFA in filmmaking and his graduate thesis film, "Bean Cake," became the first USC student film to win the Palme d’Or for short films at the 54th Cannes Film Festival. Greenspan's first feature, a dark comedy called "51/50 Mall Cop," premiered in competition at the 2005 Slamdance festival. This year, Greenspan was on the short film jury at the Slamdance Film Festival where his latest short film, "Somewhere In the Valley," had its world premiere. Since 2006, David has worked on the ABC Television's hit drama "Grey's Anatomy," first as an assistant editor, then editor and now as a director as well.  

Beginning today, "5150 Mall Cop" is available to buy or rent on various digital platforms, including iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Redbox Instant.

This article is related to: Slamdance Film Festival, Slamdance, Cannes Film Festival, Filmmaker Toolkit: Distribution






Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome



Awards Season Spotlight

Contender Conversations

Indiewire celebrates the best and brightest from Independent film, Hollywood, and foreign cinema.

More