What do you do when you have a script but no director? Or when you are an aspiring director but have no script?
This is an age-old problem.
Not really. This is really a modern-day problem because movies haven't really been around for that long, but you get what we're saying.
Finding a script isn't easy if you're a director just starting out. In fact, we have a friend who is a brilliant actress and producer, Kim Dillon, that ran into this problem a few years ago.
That's Kim. Isn't she lovely?
Anyway, Kim had a great idea for a short film that could be turned into a series. The idea centered around a dystopian future (very big at the time... very real at present), and needed a screenwriter that could focus on small-scale filmmaking to work within her production budget.
Not having had much experience as a screenwriter, Kim decided to hire a young woman after putting out an ad and reviewing dozens of writing samples. The new writer - let's call her Jane - and Kim got on famously in the beginning. They had coffee, they wrote scenes; it was a gem of a working relationship.
However, soon enough, dear Jane began stretching the limits of Kim's budget with her scope of writing. She started pushing for more capital, moving herself into more of an assistant producer role as she tried to bring on members of her circle, and making Kim crazy with more and more demands.
It was, to put it mildly, a horrible disappointment when at long last, Jane told Kim she was taking Kim's original idea and would produce her script the way she wanted it produced instead of having to 'deal' with Kim's budget.
This my friends, is why artists are afraid to share ideas and get touchy when someone doesn't stay in their lane.
This kind of thing can be avoided very simply - work with those recommended to you by word of mouth. Referrals are the name of the game in the freelance and indie film business.
If you are already working, you can find yourself more work by doing a kickass job on set and proving that you can be resourceful while keeping your ego in check.
There are countless artists that I will never hire again because of laziness on set, an inability to follow simple directions, or an ego the size of the moon that caused more than one breakdown for those around them. It is not fun for producers when we have to babysit either the crew or the talent. So don't work yourself out of future opportunities by behaving badly. :)
So, how do you get these gigs in the first place?
Well, the easiest thing to do is to work with someone you know or someone that a friend has recommended. (And yes, we are working on the Fat Love Database that will take the edge off of this process - we were green once, too.) If you don't know anyone, you may have to take out an ad like Kim did and craft a few lengthy legal documents that would prevent the stealing of intellectual property. A word to the wise: those documents can be very difficult to enforce, but they are usually a good deterrent.
The second thing you can do is go to school. Not necessarily back to school, but just a quick visit to a local university that offers a quality film course or two. There are a ton of really brilliant students out there that can fill your need for writers, producers, AD's, or directors. They are hungry and looking for a chance to shine just like you. A lot of times, that kind of hunger makes for a better final product. Sometimes, the professors at said university are happy to contribute to the right project and may even moonlight as directors or screenwriters for hire themselves. If they teach it, they're probably pretty dope at it, so you may want to give them a try.
The final thing I would recommend doing is getting your own network together. Build your resume. If you are so new to film that you've not met a single soul to help with this issue, you might be putting the cart before the horse.
Learn the craft of filmmaking first and develop friendships with other aspiring filmmakers the old fashioned way: meeting them on set. You can sign up to be a PA and learn filmmaking from the ground up. New York offers an incredible two-year program that literally exists to train PA's in the art of filmmaking. Backstage did a great article on becoming a production assistant for hire as well. Check it out; it might be just the thing you need to not only pay your bills, but also find your future team.
How do you guys feel about this dilemma? Are you struggling to find your place in the film industry? Have you found your dream team and are making the best films of your lives? Let us know in the comments below!!