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On Adobe, Apple, BlackMagic and 'being careful' ...


Axel
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Axel, don't confuse ...

Must be my poor english. Mercer liked your posting, so I guess you didn't hurt him too much.

No, you will never perfect every discipline required to make a film. That's why there' same giant crew list at the end of every film.  

Too many cooks spoil the soup. What you are talking about is an industrial product, not a good film. And regarding VFX, it's accomplished on the backs of many (credits) underpaid modern slaves, who ruin their health sitting 14 hours a day in front of computers. The last film I saw in the cinema was Avengers - Age Of Ultron, and though it was somehow entertaining, it really was a big heap of shit. I never dreamed of making such a film myself (though at age 16, before having seen really good films, I dreamed of making car chases with lots of guns and explosions in James Bond style).

are you going to write your own script,

go and find your own locations,

write up your own budget and your own contracts, design

and construct everybody's costumes,

special props,

buy extra props you don't have, get to set,

make the actors coffee and breakfast, dress the set,

build any special set pieces, set up lights, setup the camera,

set up a dolly,

mic the actors,

set up a boom somewhere,

figure out some way to keep an eye on the performance,

operate the camera,

and ride seperate audio levels for each actor for each shot,

while also pushing a dolly...

Then load all the footage into your computer,

do a picture edit,

then compose the music,

build a Dolby compliant mix stage for your sound mix, 

record ADR,

record Foley,

design the sound,

mix the sound,

then complete rudimentary VFX,

grade the film,

produce a cinema compliant DCP,

purchase an Arrilaser and master to 35mm for those countries/cinemas that still exhibit in 35mm.​

​Excellent check list. For a one-man-band (or a small crew of trusted enthusiasts), you had to delete some of them from the start to make the project manageable. The crucial part would be to leave the right ones on the list. Somewhere I read a wise line: Good, cheap, fast - pick any two.

On the short film Ascension (search on Vimeo), the filmmakers say (homepage >making of):

Let's start with some numbers: 5 students, 1 year and 2 months of production, 19 000 hours of work, 2 months of calculation on 20 computers11 000 final pictures, 4 To of storage and very few sleeping time.

Those are numbers that impress me.

I think my point is still being misconstrued. Obviously, I am not making myself clear enough. 

​I'll try to, and I start by confessing what I have not achieved so far: pulling off something that I'm really proud of, capturing my dreams on film.

Am I alone? 

Well, if very many had succeeded, I'd expect to see more good short films around.

If I finally succeeded, I expect that instead of typing lengthy postings on how to succeed, I'd lean back and dream about the next project ;-)

EDIT: As I see it (and I am the TO), this isn't off topic. The software industry (not Quantel or Flame) must be careful to sell their products to us without risking their reputation of being 'pro' (whatever this is supposed to be, in our times). In the beginning of cinema there were the pioneers, and they found out how to entertain and astonish their audience in a playful way. Had they had one percent of the opportunities we have today, they would have happily exploited them without having to compare their work to any industrial standards. 

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Too many cooks spoil the soup. What you are talking about is an industrial product, not a good film. And regarding VFX, it's accomplished on the backs of many (credits) underpaid modern slaves, who ruin their health sitting 14 hours a day in front of computers. The last film I saw in the cinema was Avengers - Age Of Ultron, and though it was somehow entertaining, it really was a big heap of shit. I never dreamed of making such a film myself (though at age 16, before having seen really good films, I dreamed of making car chases with lots of guns and explosions in James Bond style).

That's why you have a Director - the 'head chef' callign the shots in your analogy. The Conductor of the orchestra if you will - what you're essentially saying is that the conductor of an orchestra doesn't need any other players to make great music.

Perhaps that is true. Perhaps one conductor could spend many, many years learning multiple instruments, and then one day record a concerto all by him or her-self. 

But why would they, when there are so many talented musicians out there - most of whom are likely better than their one instrument than the conductor will be attempting to learn all the instruments.

What you're essentially saying here is that good filmmaking and big budgets or large crews are mutually exclusive. Which is not the case. The Avengers may not tell a 'beautiful' story - but I'm sure the production values and the filmmaking craft are top notch, despite the story.

Perhaps the dream is to tell amazing stories through the medium of film. But do you really want to cripple that dream by deliberately choosing not to take on the help of others? Do you want to also make money from telling these stories?

Sure - if all you have the ability to do at this point in time is do it all yourself, then go for it. But is it really your dream to forever be the only person invested in making your film? 

 

The Hobbit has 2,709 people listed as crew. Do you think 'too many cooks spoiled the broth' in this case..? Do you think Peter Jackson would have been able to make the movie he wanted to make if he had attempted to do everything himself? Do you think any of the movies would even be completed yet if so?

Perhaps you could argue that the less crew you have, the more you need to focus on telling an amazing story to be able to distract people from the fact that you don't have the same production values.

But does that mean you should do it totally alone..?

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What you're essentially saying here is that good filmmaking and big budgets or large crews are mutually exclusive. Which is not the case. The Avengers may not tell a 'beautiful' story - but I'm sure the production values and the filmmaking craft are top notch, despite the story.

​You nailed down an important point: production value. An army of robots, attacking a small group of superheroes in a russian town which is drifting off into stratosphere - you can't do that 'on the cheap' (second title of Stu Maschwitz' DV REBEL). You must forgo such stories. No problem.

The Hobbit has 2,709 people listed as crew. Do you think 'too many cooks spoiled the broth' in this case..?

Yes, The Hobbit was unbelievably bad, compared to the LOTR trilogy. But there, I admit, Jacksons vision made his 'army of orks' succeed, I was blown away by that. But let's stop listing the real big budget movies.

Perhaps you could argue that the less crew you have, the more you need to focus on telling an amazing story to be able to distract people from the fact that you don't have the same production values.

But does that mean you should do it totally alone..?

​No. You are right, you can't do it alone. You are handicapped already in too many ways. But it has to be possible with a small crew.

Let me tell you one of my ideas for a short film (abandoned), just to flesh out things a bit:

A big fairground in my town, which has a big japanese community. I saw young parents and their cute little daughter, about five years old. It was in the night, and the girl almost slept. The father tried to impress her by showing off his skills at the shooting gallery. He won her a giant pink teddy bear. But she just took it and showed no enthusiasm. This is how I continued the story from there: The father takes his family to the tunnel of horror, with spectacular ghouls and zombies, the white-water-ride with a giant 3D-shark snapping at them. His childlike enthusiasm (in japanese) borders on ecstasy, but the girl yawns. Then, on top of the Ferris wheel, the child falls off the cabin, and the father can only grip her hand in the last second. Both parents are in panic. The father holds the girl, the girl holds the teddy bear, below them the millions of colored lights and the abyss. In the sleeping girl's dream, she plays with the living pink teddy bear on a meadow. Then she releases the bear and it falls, falls ... into the hands of a young boy on the ground.

If the story is worth the effort is only my concern - unfortunately, because I couldn't convince my closest friend- whom I wanted to operate the camera. He didn't see the point (obviously I lack persuasive skill or storytelling skills). That's where the troubles start: If you can't pay your team.

The question is, how can you plan sth. like that on a small budget, with a small crew and still with very high production value? Does anybody care later if it was done with AE, Hitfilm or Fusion? 

Good, cheap, fast - pick any two.

 

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​You nailed down an important point: production value. An army of robots, attacking a small group of superheroes in a russian town which is drifting off into stratosphere - you can't do that 'on the cheap' (second title of Stu Maschwitz' DV REBEL). You must forgo such stories. No problem.

​One of the hardest things in scriptwriting is to write a good low budget film. 

 

http://www.scriptmag.com/features/alt-script-five-good-reasons-to-write-a-no-low-budget-script

No-low budget screenwriting is difficult precisely because of what you can’t do, which is to create spectacle by spending money. A huge car chase, you can’t afford it. A gun fight, you can’t afford that either. Period costume or expensive prop builds, not in your price bracket. Basically, the lower the budget, the more the drama has to come from the relationships between the characters… or in other words, the success and failure of the project rests totally on the shoulders of the screenwriter. Not only does the writing have to be compelling to carry the story and to hold the audience, on top of that, the core concept of the movie has to be strong enough to persuade an audience to chose to spend ninety-minutes with you, as opposed to the multi-million dollar movie with the big name actors and the mind numbing stunts.

Let me be straight with you, this is the very definition of difficult.

 

http://www.scriptmag.com/features/alt-script-four-ways-to-control-your-scripts-budget-without-compromising-the-film

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First off, sorry about all the quotes, kind of new here and I have no idea how to quote specific parts of people's comments. 

Thank you Axel, this is very close to my original point. 

I'll use the BMPCC as my example. When that camera came out I was excited to see the feature films that were going to be made by low budget filmmakers. I am so low budget, I couldn't even afford it when it first came out, but I was very interested to hear filmmaker's experience with the camera. When I went over to the forums and read that people are rigging up this camera with rails, and matte boxes, and follow focus machines, and screens.

What? The camera is called a Pocket Camera, it is designed to look like a consumer camera.

Why in God's name would someone rig up that camera? Imagine the possibilities of taking a legitimate cinema camera into a restaurant, or a bar, or a hospital... And people think you are holding a point and shoot?

Your production value would rise incredibly. I don't own the camera but I now understand that it needs stability to function well, but do you really need a full, professional rig, for every scenario? 

We, as filmmakers, are in such an amazing time with this digital revolution. A cheap, consumer camera can be used to make a very good looking movie. I mean Blair Witch was partially shot on a Hi-8 video camera ... Surely a better film could be made with this new technology. But if you're going to hold stringently to how the pros do it, you probably will fail? So what do you do, if you have little money, little crew but a big desire to make a movie, with a good concept and a great script, or vice versa?

To Be Continued

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So what do you do, if you have little money, little crew but a big desire to make a movie, with a good concept and a great script, or vice versa?

You make short films until you have the resources to make larger films. You publicize and promote them at film festivals, always carrying a screenplay with you in case you meet a producer looking for a new talented director. Either that or you go purely through Internet, do crowdfunding and hope you get millions of youtube views to be noticed.

There is only one way to succeed. Use the the resources you have to impress maximum number of people with best work you can do. There was a time when even if you made your own film, you could only screen it to people physically, in a room, etc....now...you upload it once and if its good, it can reach millions. Filmmakers have NEVER had this option before. Ever.

 

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Mtheory, first I want to apologize. My comment was unclear and it was rude and immature of me to suggest you couldn't read. 

Yes, you can make a short. Obviously. But what if you want to make a feature?

My point is that a filmmaker does not need to follow every filmmaking method the pros do to make a good product.

For instance, I don't record double sound. It is too time consuming of a process and requires extra crew I don't have access too. So, I mount a shotgun mic on the top of my camera, or cage, or sometimes just plug a lav directly into the camera, sometimes through a preamp. And I make sure I do a couple takes as close as I can to the actor.

Is it as good as double sound, obviously not, but I usually get a decent track that is usable and if not... ADR... Which is what Hollywood does the majority of the time. 

So, I think the original point I was trying to make is that, for me, as a no budget filmmaker, I have to make sacrifices where I can that will have the least amount of impact on the overall product. 

I thought a lot of indie filmmakers do this, but the more I read this site, I realize I am definitely in the minority. But what I find amazing is how much a lot of filmmaker's look down on me for that. 

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This is an excellent point. Back in the 90's when there was a big indie movement, you would specifically design your story around one or two locations. Today, the concept still exists, and in fact, was very popular a few years ago as the "contained thriller." But in the 90s, most indie filmmakers were still shooting 16mm, and even if you used short ends, the cost was enormous.

Now with the simplicity and availability of digital, the restrictions are less, but you still need access to locations... which a lot of people don't have. So, you have to design your script around the locations you have accessible to you. 

IMO, you also want to write a script with the least amount of dialogue possible... good actors are hard to come by, sound is a pain in the ass, and writing quality dialogue is a craft in and of itself. 

So, you're left with a story with few locations, a small cast and little dialogue, which is why horror has always been such a popular genre amongst indie filmmakers. Well, that and the marketability of horror without needing known stars to sell tickets  in fact, having a big name star can hurt a horror film. It can take the visceral feeling away from the project because Tom Hanks, or whoever, is starring in it.

But sometimes limitations can spur the most creativity. If you were told you had to create a story that takes place in one location and has 5 or less actors. What could you come up with? To take it a step further, add specific props that would have to be used. You would be surprised what a creative person could come up with. 

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So, I think the original point I was trying to make is that, for me, as a no budget filmmaker, I have to make sacrifices where I can that will have the least amount of impact on the overall product. 

I thought a lot of indie filmmakers do this, but the more I read this site, I realize I am definitely in the minority. But what I find amazing is how much a lot of filmmaker's look down on me for that. 

​Probability says there aren't so many filmmakers around (like folks who can link to something on Vimeo or Youtube that makes people like us shut up). My EOSHD profile reads 'filmmaker', but I have no idea who labelled me so. As an avid cinema goer, I visit the screening room here regularly, and if I like something, I bookmark it. It`s a short list. Maybe you are naive to think you can top these clips, but feel free to prove the opposite.

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Mtheory, first I want to apologize. My comment was unclear and it was rude and immature of me to suggest you couldn't read. 

Yes, you can make a short. Obviously. But what if you want to make a feature?

My point is that a filmmaker does not need to follow every filmmaking method the pros do to make a good product.

For instance, I don't record double sound. It is too time consuming of a process and requires extra crew I don't have access too. So, I mount a shotgun mic on the top of my camera, or cage, or sometimes just plug a lav directly into the camera, sometimes through a preamp. And I make sure I do a couple takes as close as I can to the actor.

Is it as good as double sound, obviously not, but I usually get a decent track that is usable and if not... ADR... Which is what Hollywood does the majority of the time. 

So, I think the original point I was trying to make is that, for me, as a no budget filmmaker, I have to make sacrifices where I can that will have the least amount of impact on the overall product. 

I thought a lot of indie filmmakers do this, but the more I read this site, I realize I am definitely in the minority. But what I find amazing is how much a lot of filmmaker's look down on me for that. 

​No worries, mercer, I take my words back too. Try not to worry what other filmmakers think, by the way, all that matters in the end is you, your film and the audience. If you can shoot a feature and finish it yourself, then distributors at film festivals will be even more willing to talk to you.

 

 

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​Probability says there aren't so many filmmakers around (like folks who can link to something on Vimeo or Youtube that makes people like us shut up). My EOSHD profile reads 'filmmaker', but I have no idea who labelled me so. As an avid cinema goer, I visit the screening room here regularly, and if I like something, I bookmark it. It`s a short list. Maybe you are naive to think you can top these clips, but feel free to prove the opposite.

Axel, sorry but I think something is lost in translation. Correct me if I am wrong but I thought we were arguing the same point? Unless, I misunderstood your comment. If so, sorry. 

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​No worries, mercer, I take my words back too. Try not to worry what other filmmakers think, by the way, all that matters in the end is you, your film and the audience. 

 

 

Thanks mtheory. I don't. Obviously, I didn't go to film school. In fact, I haven't made much for the amount of time I have been self schooling.

I come from a screenwriting background, only the past year or two have I seriously considered directing something. I have a lot to learn and a lot of bad footage to shoot. But movies are my life and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the process with others. 

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Mtheory, first I want to apologize. My comment was unclear and it was rude and immature of me to suggest you couldn't read. 

Yes, you can make a short. Obviously. But what if you want to make a feature?

My point is that a filmmaker does not need to follow every filmmaking method the pros do to make a good product.

For instance, I don't record double sound. It is too time consuming of a process and requires extra crew I don't have access too. So, I mount a shotgun mic on the top of my camera, or cage, or sometimes just plug a lav directly into the camera, sometimes through a preamp. And I make sure I do a couple takes as close as I can to the actor.

Is it as good as double sound, obviously not, but I usually get a decent track that is usable and if not... ADR... Which is what Hollywood does the majority of the time. 

So, I think the original point I was trying to make is that, for me, as a no budget filmmaker, I have to make sacrifices where I can that will have the least amount of impact on the overall product. 

I thought a lot of indie filmmakers do this, but the more I read this site, I realize I am definitely in the minority. But what I find amazing is how much a lot of filmmaker's look down on me for that. 

​It all comes down to your goals. What if you want to make a feature? Do you want to make a feature that is able to commercially distributed, especially without needing to convince a studio to spend millions 'fixing' everything for you (especially the sound mix), or do you just want to make something that you can show to some friends, burn a few DVDs and attempt to drum up some interest online to be able to sell DVDs?

Do you want to have a better chance of making your money back quicker? Or do you want to take the risk that you may never make your money back?

It sounds like you've placed a lot of imposition on yourself. You don't want to record dual system sound, despite the fact that for ~$200 you can have a recorder and boom pole that you can have a friend hold and instantly you'll have better sound than simply sitting a mic on the camera and hoping you'll get close enough. Plug the lav into the recorder and hide the recorder in the actors clothes - makeshift wireless lav.

I can tell you that the best Directors consider sound and sound design right from the start, rather than considering it simply a 'pain in the ass'.

I don't look down upon you for doing what you feel you need to do. I just think you've unfarily impositioned yourself and by doing so, you're severely hampering your chances at major success. Now, maybe you don't want major success, and that's fine too.

All I know is I shoot a lot of different projects - and I know many filmmakers I've worked with who are trying to get noticed would rather spent $5k-$10k making a really damn good short with a simple but excellent story, great production values, a good colour grade and proper sound design and mix - send it to festivals and eventually the internet and try and sell their feature script after that... Rather than attempting to make $5k-$10k stretch for an entire feature - as they know that the feature will be mediocre at best, and the production won't be of a level that they're happy having out there as their calling card.

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​It all comes down to your goals. What if you want to make a feature? Do you want to make a feature that is able to commercially distributed, especially without needing to convince a studio to spend millions 'fixing' everything for you (especially the sound mix), or do you just want to make something that you can show to some friends, burn a few DVDs and attempt to drum up some interest online to be able to sell DVDs?

Do you want to have a better chance of making your money back quicker? Or do you want to take the risk that you may never make your money back?

It sounds like you've placed a lot of imposition on yourself. You don't want to record dual system sound, despite the fact that for ~$200 you can have a recorder and boom pole that you can have a friend hold and instantly you'll have better sound than simply sitting a mic on the camera and hoping you'll get close enough. Plug the lav into the recorder and hide the recorder in the actors clothes - makeshift wireless lav.

I can tell you that the best Directors consider sound and sound design right from the start, rather than considering it simply a 'pain in the ass'.

I don't look down upon you for doing what you feel you need to do. I just think you've unfarily impositioned yourself and by doing so, you're severely hampering your chances at major success. Now, maybe you don't want major success, and that's fine too.

All I know is I shoot a lot of different projects - and I know many filmmakers I've worked with who are trying to get noticed would rather spent $5k-$10k making a really damn good short with a simple but excellent story, great production values, a good colour grade and proper sound design and mix - send it to festivals and eventually the internet and try and sell their feature script after that... Rather than attempting to make $5k-$10k stretch for an entire feature - as they know that the feature will be mediocre at best, and the production won't be of a level that they're happy having out there as their calling card.

Yes, the short vs. feature argument. I know it all to well. Back in the 70s and 80s directors made shorts to promote themselves, usually USC, or UCLA students who utilized their situation to develop a "calling card" short. In the 90s when I first became interested in filmmaking, it wasn't in fashion to make a short, or go to film school... You used that money to make a feature. Making any movie is hard work, akin to moving mountains... The thought process was why should I spend a crap load of money and time on a short, when I can spend a crap load of money and time on a feature. Remember El Mariachi was shot for 7000 bucks and that was shot on 16mm film. So, I think I am still in that mindset. But distribution channels have changed, so the short film has once again become a viable way to market yourself.

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 Remember El Mariachi was shot for 7000 bucks and that was shot on 16mm film.

​Yes, and then had many thousands spent on it for all sorts of post processes to actually get it to a distributable level, and then in the actual distribution.

Look at the numbers:

http://www.indiewire.com/article/sundance-2015-infographic-most-festival-films-will-land-distribution-deals-20150116

Roughly 2300 films submitted to Sundance. Of that, maybe 100 get some sort of distribution deal. The average budget is nearly $2mil - commercially viable films that just need someone to distribute them.

How many of those films that were picked up had sound from a mic that was mounted on camera? How many have crews that are in the 1-2 people range? I'm going to take a guess and say none.

I can't recall the last film that was made for <$10k with a crew of one that ended up getting picked up for mass distribution - can you? Perhaps Monsters, but then that was ~$25k + 10 times that or so to get it to a distributable level, and then distribute it...

Even Like Crazy had a $200,000 budget and a pretty large crew, despite being shot on a 7D and being a really rather simple, non-extravagant love story.

I'm happy to be proven wrong - I guess I just don't really understand the whole playing the odds of doing it all yourself - you've likely got more chance of winning the lottery; at least someone wins the lottery each week. 

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​It all comes down to your goals. What if you want to make a feature? Do you want to make a feature that is able to commercially distributed, especially without needing to convince a studio to spend millions 'fixing' everything for you (especially the sound mix), or do you just want to make something that you can show to some friends, burn a few DVDs and attempt to drum up some interest online to be able to sell DVDs?

Do you want to have a better chance of making your money back quicker? Or do you want to take the risk that you may never make your money back?

It sounds like you've placed a lot of imposition on yourself. You don't want to record dual system sound, despite the fact that for ~$200 you can have a recorder and boom pole that you can have a friend hold and instantly you'll have better sound than simply sitting a mic on the camera and hoping you'll get close enough. Plug the lav into the recorder and hide the recorder in the actors clothes - makeshift wireless lav.

I can tell you that the best Directors consider sound and sound design right from the start, rather than considering it simply a 'pain in the ass'.

I don't look down upon you for doing what you feel you need to do. I just think you've unfarily impositioned yourself and by doing so, you're severely hampering your chances at major success. Now, maybe you don't want major success, and that's fine too.

All I know is I shoot a lot of different projects - and I know many filmmakers I've worked with who are trying to get noticed would rather spent $5k-$10k making a really damn good short with a simple but excellent story, great production values, a good colour grade and proper sound design and mix - send it to festivals and eventually the internet and try and sell their feature script after that... Rather than attempting to make $5k-$10k stretch for an entire feature - as they know that the feature will be mediocre at best, and the production won't be of a level that they're happy having out there as their calling card.

But you make some good points and worth thinking about. Btw, have you heard of the recently released horror movie called Memory Lane? If not, Google it, the guy made it for 300 bucks. The reviews say the best thing about the movie is the story. The sound and mix is supposedly horrible. The acting is adequate but the visual style and writing propelled this movie to being released and got him an agent and a movie deal. Just something to think about. 

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​Yes, and then had many thousands spent on it for all sorts of post processes to actually get it to a distributable level, and then in the actual distribution.

Look at the numbers:

http://www.indiewire.com/article/sundance-2015-infographic-most-festival-films-will-land-distribution-deals-20150116

Roughly 2300 films submitted to Sundance. Of that, maybe 100 get some sort of distribution deal. The average budget is nearly $2mil - commercially viable films that just need someone to distribute them.

How many of those films that were picked up had sound from a mic that was mounted on camera? How many have crews that are in the 1-2 people range? I'm going to take a guess and say none.

I can't recall the last film that was made for <$10k with a crew of one that ended up getting picked up for mass distribution - can you? Perhaps Monsters, but then that was ~$25k + 10 times that or so to get it to a distributable level, and then distribute it...

Even Like Crazy had a $200,000 budget and a pretty large crew, despite being shot on a 7D and being a really rather simple, non-extravagant love story.

I'm happy to be proven wrong - I guess I just don't really understand the whole playing the odds of doing it all yourself - you've likely got more chance of winning the lottery; at least someone wins the lottery each week. 

You can't really use Sundance as a metric for true indie films. Very few true indie films go to Sundance. It's not like it was 20 years ago. And I am not arguing with you, I think people should spend their time and money however they want. If they want to spend 10 grand on a short film... By all means. More power to them. If I want to spend 10 grand on a feature... More power to me. In the end I think story will prevail over technical perfection. But if I had the means, I would choose both. 

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But you make some good points and worth thinking about. Btw, have you heard of the recently released horror movie called Memory Lane? If not, Google it, the guy made it for 300 bucks. The reviews say the best thing about the movie is the story. The sound and mix is supposedly horrible. The acting is adequate but the visual style and writing propelled this movie to being released and got him an agent and a movie deal. Just something to think about. 

​And then there's movies like The Room which become popular because of how bad they are.....

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Yeah, if there was a paint by numbers method of making a successful indie film, we would all have movie deals by now. Look at the Mumblecore movement. Swanberg makes his features for about a grand and he was the darling of sxsw for years. I don't love his films but the man figured out a way to have successful festival showings... Could be the full frontal by all his cast members though. 

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