Sunday, November 15, 2009

Filmmaking for money or for love?

Are you making your film for money or for love?

High quality, inexpensive tools like the HD cameras, digital recorders and compact sound studios mean that almost anyone can make a film.

A feature-length independent film made for money, and intended for theatrical release, can easily take a year or two to complete, involve dozens of skilled professionals, and cost several hundreds of thousands, or millions of dollars.

A feature-length independent film made for love and intended only to go on Vimeo or YouTube can be made in a month for less than a thousand dollars. For airfare, car rentals, and lunch for the cast, you can have the footage for a 90 minute film "in the can." Everyone involved knows that the likelihood of a financial return is zero. All anyone really expects in return is an adventure, some great stories and maybe their names in the credits at the end of the film.

If the film is being made for money, however, expectations change. The expectation of return on investment may tempt the filmmaker to do expensive and risky things… things like mortgage the house, max out credit cards, or take a loan on mom and dad's 401K. The risk is justified in everyone's mind because of the expected return. If the film earns money, everyone is delighted. If it returns zero, lives are changed and relationships may be destroyed.

A labor of love is one thing. An investment is something else.

Always be very clear about money. Especially with yourself.

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