I remember being at work, in addition to being a filmmaker I'm a full-time bus driver for one of the largest transportation companies in the country. So I'm driving and out of nowhere a thought popped into my head. Why aren't there any award shows for indie filmmakers in Philadelphia? The talent is here, so why nothing to acknowledge that? Then a second thought popped in there, why don't you create one? And that started a year and a half long journey that culminated with the Philadelphia Independent Film Awards.
Screening At the Philadelphia Independent Film Awards
We honored filmmakers from around the world as well as locally. Our show which we modeled after the Academy Awards took place May 21 in Philadelphia at the International House. There's a saying that ignorance is bliss and whoever said it was spot on. Ignorance is bliss because if you knew what the undertaking of such a venture would entail you'd never do it. So you start the process and plunge into deep and unknown water.
The Dream Team
The first thing I'll say is you need an amazing team of people. Do not start any venture, whether it be filmmaking or starting a show or anything unless you have quality people who share your vision. This is extremely important because when the work becomes overwhelming you're going to need people you can count on. So I reached out to fellow actor Keyon Smith. I called him and said I need an assistant director for my show, welcome aboard. Sometimes you just gotta tell people they're doing something, I only recommend this tactic with very good friends. My next call was to my good friend Angelique Marshall of Lique Productions. She's directed everything I've ever done since I started in the business, she got the same speech. Luckily for me, they both agreed.
After assembling our team we went into the planning stages. Folks you want to give yourself as much time as possible when starting a project, don't get caught up in the excitement of being on set or doing casting calls, plan each step as meticulously as possible. Listen to everyone on your team, even if you disagree with what they're saying. You want people to know that they have a voice and that you value their input. You also may need to have them write a check when the money starts running out and trust me it will because there's always an unforeseen problem that will pop up. Save your money!!!
If you plan on shooting a film or starting an award show for your community or even a film festival, know that pre-production is key. Don't be too eager because it may hurt you down the road (short on cash). Create a list of people you know you can go to for soliciting funds and let them know where you'll be using their money. Include them in updates and make sure to shout them out on social media. People like being appreciated, so show some love for people who open their checkbooks!
Be sure to have a sense of humor cause you're gonna need it! And while you're at it exercise your social media muscle, you want people talking about what you're doing, involve them, use every platform to create a buzz for what you're doing. Filmmakers, please make sure your film is the best it can possibly be, don't rush! We viewed a lot of films with issues, the biggest being sound. Invest in a sound engineer! Please! Another issue was a ton of emails for fee waivers because filmmakers ran out of money. Before you pick up a camera or hire a crew write out a budget. Include in that budget your post production which should include submitting to anything. You made an awesome film, but no one can see it because you ran out of cash. Plan this beforehand. It's all about the planning. It's great to be enthusiastic, but enthusiasm without a plan doesn't work and may set you back. So in conclusion, the things you need to do to pull it off is simply to plan it out, surround yourself with great people, people better than you if need be, it's about the film or the show, not your ego. Listen, have fun, make sure you get as much sleep as you can, make time for your family, put it down it'll be there when you get back. Enjoy yourself, don't take you too seriously, have fun. Enjoy the ride. I hope this helps. Thanks for reading.
Filmmakers! Please make sure your film is the best it can possibly be, don't rush! We viewed a lot of films with issues, the biggest being sound. Invest in a sound engineer! Please! Another issue we always see is that filmmakers run out of money and end up requesting fee waivers for submitting their films. Before you pick up a camera or hire a crew, write out a budget. Make sure to nclude in that budget your post production fees, which should include submitting to anything. You made an awesome film, but no one can see it because you ran out of cash. Plan this beforehand. It's all about the planning. It's great to be enthusiastic, but enthusiasm without a plan doesn't work and may set you back.
You can make anything happen. Produce that film. Start up a new film festival or awards show, or production company. Just remember to simply plan it out and surround yourself with great people (people better than you if need be). In the end, it's about the film or the show, not your ego. Listen, have fun, make sure you get as much sleep as you can and make time for your family. Don't be afraid to put it down, it'll be there when you get back. Enjoy the ride. I hope this helps. Thanks for reading.
Floyd Marshall Jr is the CEO of Gazelle Films, founder of the Philadelphia Independent Film Awards and the Independent Film Association of Philadelphia, a non profit organization.
He founded the Philadelphia Independent Film Awards to shine a spotlight on his fellow indie filmmakers' efforts to bring their inner visions to life. As a filmmaker, his screenplays include "Compromised," "Child of God," and "Love & Litigation." He is currently in pre-production on his second feature-length film, "Deceptions." Floyd has also written two stage plays.
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