So You Want to Be an Indie Auteur? Raindance Film Festival Wants to Teach You How to Fake It
You’ve probably seen at least one of them if you’ve ever been to a film festival. Some of them are long, some are boring, some are downright brilliant, but one thing the biggest ones have in common is that they can launch an indie career. Suzanne Ballantyne, the Head of Programming over at the Raindance Film Festival, has put together some tips for budding amateurs from her experience watching over 500 potential festival feature films per year — and hopefully by the end you’ll have the knowledge to fake being an “Indie Auteur.”
Here is Suzanne on why this list exists and who it’s for:
This is not about how to make Hollywood films, made-for-tv films or even low budget films. This is not about making films whose purpose is to entertain. This is about a different species altogether – the indie auteur film, short or long – the darling of the latest ‘it’ festival – with city names likes Gotenburg, Hamburg, Kerala and Rotterdam in their title. The kind of film that press people, pretentious programmers, art house proprietors and film academians piss themselves for. The kind of film that might just launch your career.
A couple of my favorites from the post:
Dialogue should be minimal. You do not want to overstate the case. Keep the audience guessing as to what exactly your film is about. Pauses are more important. Have lots of them and keep them long. The camera can then focus on the motionless faces of the actors as the audience desperately try to interpret their thoughts while struggling to figure out exactly what is going on.
7. The “Look”
Shoot on film or dv made to look like film (using filters, programs anything you can) – preferably on black and white or even better, black and white with nano second shards of bright colour interspersed for an almost subliminal amount of time to convey murky plot points, back story etc. into the mix. Despite digital advances proclaim your love for the “look” and smell of film.
Mix up your formats. Shoot parts of your film on a mobile phone, use found footage, photographs, alongside that indie darling, super 8mm. Shoot on recans and ends, preferably donated to you by a famous director. Scratch and draw on the surface of the celluloid. Be bold. The less understood the finished product, the better.
If any of these really upset you in any way, just know that some of these are my favorite films (and there’s probably a good chance I’ll make something long and boring one day that will torture audiences — assuming anyone watches it). This list isn’t to say that all independent films made in this way fit this particular mold, but if you’ve been around the indie world long enough, you know exactly who these people are and exactly the films they’ve made. This isn’t even to say that making one of these films is a bad thing, because it’s clearly started a few careers along the way. There is clearly a fine line between obscure and truthful with some of these films, and specifically with the choices that directors make, but it can’t hurt to take a few pointers from someone who’s been at this since independent film really took off.
You should head on over to the Raindance site to read the rest (don’t forget part 2), and if you’re a fan of independent filmmaking at all and one of them doesn’t put a slight smile on your face, you might just have to have your pulse checked.
What are some of your favorites? Do you have any to add to this list? How about ones that you might be guilty of?