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

7 Tips for Filmmakers From SXSW: Words of Wisdom from Lena Dunham, Dana Brunetti, Casey Neistat, Ted Hope and Jason Blum

Photo of Paula Bernstein By Paula Bernstein | Indiewire March 13, 2014 at 11:38AM

Sitting in keynote sessions and panel discussions, I came away with a broad sense of how technological advances and the internet have expanded opportunities for filmmakers who no longer have to rely on the traditional gatekeepers to pursue their projects. Here are 7 tips for filmmakers from SXSW.
5
Lena Dunham on 'Girls'
Mark Schafer/HBO Lena Dunham on 'Girls'

Amazingly, I spent five days at SXSW and didn't see one movie. But it was far from a waste of time. Sitting in on keynote sessions and panel discussions, I came away with a broad sense of how technological advances and the internet have expanded opportunities for filmmakers who no longer have to rely on the traditional gatekeepers to pursue their projects.

After two years in beta, VHX, the direct-to-fan distribution platform, opened to the public during SXSW and all artists are now be able to sell their work directly to fans from their own websites. VHX co-founder Jamie Wilkinson said he was trying to get the word out to filmmakers that they don't need to wait for a distributor to acquire their film. 

"Filmmakers at Sundance are used to the model of the last 35 years which is I make a great film. I sell it to somebody else and they do all the legwork. That's where we're embracing the shift in the model where you can do it yourself," Wilkinson told Indiewire.

Meanwhile, for filmmakers who already have a distributor, producer John Sloss urged them to take control of their careers by demanding distributors to show them their VOD numbers.

While fledgling filmmakers continue to seek advice at SXSW about how they can break into the industry, hoping for some easy to follow answer, the panelists all emphasized that there are no rules. In the case of Casey Neistat and Jason Blum, they both attained success with commercial projects only to realize that they'd rather be in control of their own destiny. In both cases, they redirected their careers to follow their passion -- to great results.

Dana Brunetti, the producer of "House of Cards" turned to Netflix before it was considered an acceptable alternative to pay cable while Neistat became a YouTube filmmaker before it was cool. The overriding message from all of these creators is, as Dunham voices, "do it yourself by whatever means necessary."

Below are 7 Lessons for filmmakers from SXSW:

1. "The advice I give for filmmakers starting out is don't wait for me. Don't wait for the industry... It's a mistake to wait for Hollywood to tell you you have a good idea. If you have a good idea, try to make it on your own as cheaply as possible… on your phone." -- Jason Blum

2. "Ideas are cheap. Ideas are easy. Ideas are common. Everybody has ideas. Ideas are highly, highly overvalued. Execution is all that matters." - Casey Neistat

3. "There's that maxim that luck is where opportunity meets preparation. So I think that opportunity has become something that's ubiquitous and accessible to everyone. The internet is opportunity. We all have the same starting point. It's what we do with that opportunity." - Casey Neistat

4. "The problem in the film industry is that people think they can do it themselves. They think that they matter more than the collective whole and I don't agree with that, frankly.The most powerful thing that we can do is think outside of ourselves and work together to advance the things that matter most to us." -- Ted Hope

5. "The best advice I can muster after exactly four years in this business [is]... don't wait around for someone else to tell your story. Do it yourself by whatever means necessary." -- Lena Dunham

6. "Tell the story you know...Stand up for your work and voice... Saying no is an amazing, amazing tool, but it’s also important to say yes." -- Lena Dunham

7. "Listen to what the fans are saying and what they're doing from a content creation side and what they want and what they expect so you can create and make for them. They can make or break a film. Between Twitter and Facebook, early word of mouth for a film can destroy it immediately or take something you've never heard of and make it a huge hit." -- Dana Brunetti

This article is related to: Lena Dunham, Lena Dunham, Jason Blum, Casey Neistat, Ted Hope, Ted Hope, SXSW, SXSW 2014, South By Southwest Film Conference and Festival (SXSW), Filmmaker Toolkit






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