I lost a budget last year at the 11th hour for my horror flick that was set to shoot in Los Angeles. More about it at my “film Journals“. I had developed it with my own money from corp video work for two years. I was left so broke, that I needed any job fast to pay the rent. Within 48 hours I was empting bins at Mcdonalds. Glam movie business!
(The Mcdonalds I worked at, until recently. Still from phone camera)
I have juggled unskilled jobs my whole life, so that was no big deal. But losing a £500,000 budget was tough. Incy Wincy Spider! My Mcdonalds badge said I was “loving it” My face said “fuck off I shouldn’t be here! However, I have absurd optimism, so I just plough on! I was not starving, dying of cancer, so I was not down for long.
NO BUDGET MOVIE MAKING
Ironically, after a few years of being stuck in limbo after securing and losing budgets for various reasons, I kick started my career again among leftover McFlurry and unhappy meals! I have now completed “MISSION X“, and have 10 companies between UK & Hollywood interested in other projects, but I am dedicating my life to building my “creation to consumer” brand for the time being.
So whatever shitty job you are stuck in, you are not trapped if you want something bad enough. I have learned we trap ourselves. When you hit the bottom, it either kills you on a slow burn, or you become much tougher. I went into Iron Man mode. You want something bad enough, you will get it. I woke up to that fact that you can make a movie on a day job budget, with a little beg, steal, and borrowing. (legal of course) We have no excuses.
I reminded myself that Tarantino worked in a video store, Kevin Smith made a movie about the general store he worked in, and Rodriguez moved into a drug clinic to kick start a career. Thats what I love about this business, there are no fucking rules! Even though the industry will try and convince you otherwise! Nobody really knows shit! If they did, most movies would not be bad.
When you have funded your own movie, it also means you control the vision for it 100%. I never got enough control on my first movie, but at least I would on this. I would also own it, so any sales could fund future development, festival trips, and pay the rent. I might even get lucky and have a hit! Either way, I would be “doing” and not “dreaming”
TOP DIRECTORS FUND THEIR OWN FILMS
Its not by coincidence that some of the top directors in the world funded their own flicks from peanuts. Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, Spy Kids) funded El Mariachi by volunteering for drug tests for cash. Chris Nolan (Memento, The Dark Knight) funded “Following” with £10,000 from corporate videos.
Darren Aronofsky (The Wrestler) private funded the $50,000 PI. Kevin Smith funded the $30,000 “Clerks” budget from credit cards. Sam Rami, Kubrick. The Coens, Peter Jackson, and many more good and bad filmmakers done the same. They didn’t wait for permission to be creative. So self funding is nothng new, but thats not my point.
UK FILM INDUSTRY/COTTAGE
One of the reasons we don’t have an industry is because we have sent out the wrong messages to filmmakers here for years. In the US, some dudes get a camera, a few actors, tiny amount of cash for a genre flick, and create a career. They might be artists at heart, but they also create genre horror/thrillers to make investors some money back too. Which in turn turns them into “movie makers!”
In the UK, we have an unhealthy preoccupation with winning “awards”. I am not attracted by this biz to get back slapping awards all the time. You want that, be a fucking sprinter! I want to make movies for movie fans. We take ourselves so fucking serious in the Uk, it takes the whole “fun” out of this biz. You got a burning “cause”, cool, make a documentary, write a fucking blog, start a human rights campaign. Just don’t drown me with the films “message”
NO BUDGET APPRENTICESHIP
Pulling off a movie yourself to show the industry is the best apprenticeship you could have. Making your own film will teach you EVERYTHING. If you are handed a lot of money at the start of a career, it does not encourage you to be inventive, entrepreneurial. Solving problems with money all the time is not beneficial in any way.
DIY at the start also instills a passion, drive that never leaves you. I have been around filmmakers who got funding at the start, and they don’t have that edge, fire in their belly. You need that, because like it or not, each new project is an uphill climb to secure finance. In the indie world, or Hollywood. Or even self distribution.
MASTERCLASSES, GURU’S, TEACHERS
I am not a fan of preachers, guru’s, life coaches, so called Experts. Anybody can pull out motivation quotes from a book, or teach theory, but actually pulling it off in the real world is another planet! It’s better learning from other filmmakers that are “doing it”, then go do it yourself. Schools teach you about 5% of what you need to learn.
Since I made this small flick, lots of industry doors are now opening. That proves its not about securing budgets at the start. Just “do it!” If interested, watch me over the weeks, months, years, and see if my way works. Or laugh at me falling on my ass! Either way, I am going to make sure it’s fun. I would rather fall on my ass, than sit on it!
Thanks for reading
PS. Next blog posts will be Twitter style size! Short and sweet. So please come back! haha cheers