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What’s The Biggest Challenge of Being an Indie Filmmaker in the Digital Age?

What's The Biggest Challenge of Being an Indie Filmmaker in the Digital Age?

Jeff Baena, “Life After Beth”: Primarily the saturation of the market with product. There are a lot of films out there being made, especially with the digital revolution and people being able to make films so cheaply and with technology readily available. With all the films that are out there it’s hard to crack through and make an impact. Secondly, I think being judicious with the technology is a challenge. A lot of people overuse digital and visual effects. They overcompensate on the technical side as opposed to just telling a story.  There are a lot of people overdoing it, that’s the challenge, to care about how much digital technology you are using.

David and Nathan Zellner, “Kumiko, The Treasure Hunter”: Things are constantly evolving, some things become easier and
some become more complicated. I think there are always challenges
presenting themselves. It varies; filmmakers have all kinds of different
struggles with getting things made. It think is the same as being able
to finance a film or find distribution, all those struggles that have
been around since the beginning, they are just taking shape in different

Alex Ross Perry, “Listen Up, Phillip!”: I can’t even begin to image what challenges other people face because
the challenges I faced are a combination of ones that I could have never
predicted and one that I’m incredibly lucky of being in a position to
have to deal with.  It would be clichéd to point out that any number of
auteurs, at one point or another, are in a position where it’s very
difficult to make any sort of strategic leap forward with what you are
trying to do. Coming from my world of four or five movies that played at
film festivals, is a huge challenge to leap into doing something with
well-known people and with a serious budget. Now, that’s jumping over
the fact that it is a huge challenge to finish a movie even if costs
$20,000, and get it to the point where it’s playing in places that
people are going to have any awareness of your work. I think dating back
to five years ago when my first movie was premiering, like anybody, my
challenge was to screen this thing because there are 3,000 film
festivals and each one gets 3,000 submissions. Now my challenges are
“Can we get bankable actors in order to finance this bigger movie?”

READ MORE: Sundance Film Festival Programmers Talk Zombies, Vampires and the Future of Filmmaking

challenges are always there at every level. When I go to festival and I
talk to my heroes or titans of cinema, the challenges they face are no
different. They are looking for a little bit of extra money or they
can’t find the right actors. I feel like the challenges are still what
they’ve always been, but in a much more topical way, the challenge is to
differentiate your work from the vast pool of cinema that exists these

Malik Vitthal, “Imperial Dreams”: I don’t know if there are many challenges. We are pretty lucky
right now. We are at a great time where if you can think of something
you can create it. There is a director who made a monster movie and
basically made his own digital effects himself. You have the ability to
teach yourself a lot of things with all these tools; I think it is a
very special time. If you really have a passion for filmmaking there are
a lot of tools out there to make it really easy.

Adam Wingard “The Guest”: I look at all these things as advantages, all the different places where
you can show a movie and the ways that you can a movie nowadays. It is
not like you really need to raise money anymore to actually make
something that works because technology is at the point where you can
either borrow or buy a good camera fairly affordably or equipment in
general.  You can now do it yourself as opposed to have to lobby for it
like you would have had to in the past.

READ MORE: What Will the Future Look Like for Indie Filmmakers?

Ana Lily Amirpour “A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night”: For me, filmmaking is more like I’m being an inventor. At different
times in history there are different things that are getting invented
based on what is available. Before there were no light bulbs, and then a
guy figured out how to make a light bulb, then someone figured how to
create Twitter. You are in the time and place that you are, and you are a
product of the time and place that you are from. I don’t even think
about it. I’m not like “Damn, I want to shoot on 35mm.” You just do what
you do. I have my own aesthetic. In front of you is my film school
[Points to a VHS tape on the Making of “Thriller”]. I watched that
every day for months. I must have seen it thousands of times.

I just
don’t think in terms of challenges, it is all a challenge, just like
being a mad scientist is challenging because half the time nobody
believes you and the other half of the time they think you are crazy. It
is all about problem solving, finding solutions. “I need to make the
fangs pop, I need to make someone look like they are flying,” you just
find a solution. 

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