Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The Role

Sometimes I go for long stretches without posting anything to the blog. It has been, on some occasions, due to laziness. Sometimes it's simply because I don't feel the inspiration. But, every once in a while I'm struck by something that seems to demand a response. Just a few moments ago I had such an experience.

As most of us are aware everyone these days wants to make a movie. With the advent of more and more affordable digital imaging technology we are shooting images of pristine quality on devices that are smaller and cost less than filmmakers of yesterday could ever even have imagined. We can edit our films on the same device with which we check our email and post updates to social networking websites - and do it from the 2nd bedroom we converted into an office. Everything is smaller. Everything costs less. Everything is by comparison more accessible to the general public.

But to those who see filmmaking as a passion they want to pursue, I will pose this question: what is your role? In St. Louis, MO where I live we have an enthusiastic independent film community. I have had the privilege of working with a number of independent filmmakers here in various capacities. One thing I feel our town lacks however is the sense of what it means to be a professional independent filmmaker. When audition notices are posted and read like a volunteer day for the local church it doesn't communicate professionalism or inspire those whose skills would be utilized in the project to much hope. 'Volunteering' is something you might do for a passion project. But as a professional you don't intend to give your skills away on a daily basis just because so-and-so wants to make his dream film and isn't organized enough to do the leg work to raise the necessary funds.

Which leads me to why I'm writing. In a post I just read by a local producer, she asks if "anyone's got a dollar?" She along with a small collective of filmmakers (who've all graduated from a local filmmaking program) are doing it right. They are organizing a project, pre-production to post-production, and raising the money for the various production costs through a legitimate, online fundraising tool called Kickstarter. They need to raise $5K by December 17th in order to be funded. Kickstarter uses a rewards based incentive model to help generate the funds needed to complete the project. You can donate as little as $1 or as much as $1000. The point is to get a community of people involved in bringing this artistic vision to fruition.

So, why did I ask 'what is your role?' Because, even though some of us may have dreams of being the next big-screen star or headline-stealing director, films are brought to life through collaboration. Perhaps your passion is also combined with the ability to fund a project. Maybe your strength is as a distribution channel through what you can invest. The point is, storytelling in filmmaking is the art of many people coming together to complete a single vision. For some that's character development and performance, for others it's signing that check.

To all the cinephiles out there (and especially to those of us in St. Louis) let's get to the heart of making the stories we want to tell a reality by, as a community of passionate filmmakers, filling those roles we know are ours to fill.

To donate to the aforementioned project click here.

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