The Film industry has undergone a lot of changes in the last few decades. Be it technology, production, film marketing or distribution. As a result of which, many filmmakers without the backing of a large film production house, face several challenges. While some of them have existed for years, others have cropped up with the advent of new technology and changing consumer tastes.
It is a common sight to see so many talented, sincere, and passionate filmmakers who struggle to find a foothold in the industry. And even giving up on their careers because they think that it is unsustainable to have a future in the film industry. This situation is upsetting to witness, and it is why CinYstore, one of the best movie marketing companies in India, was founded as a support system for filmmakers to overcome their challenges.
So, what are the problems faced by independent filmmakers while making a movie for the audience?
Being new and unknown
"In England, I am a horror movie director. In Germany, I am a filmmaker. In the US, Iam a bum."-John Carpenter.
This is a problem faced by most new filmmakers at the start of their film career. It is a challenge to reach out to their target audience, get their attention, and keep them entertained with their movie. The audience would instead prefer to be entertained by a known name than a rank newcomer. Its not just the audience but also the film industry which doesnt readily accept aspiring filmmakers - be it producers, or actors.
Doing it all by yourself
"The biggest challenge that I had making the film was just that I was wearing too many hats. Directing and acting at the same time was the biggest challenge I had "- Benjamin Dickinson
This statement echoes the sentiments of many new filmmakers. When you are starting as a filmmaker, you are strapped for resources. Unlike in the film industry where everyone has a specific role and tasks to accomplish, and there is an allocated budget for it.
New independent filmmakers have limited resources for their low budget movie. People assume multiple roles on the set so that the film is produced at the lowest cost possible.
Filmmakers have to be ready to do tons of work when they begin their career from scratch. The challenge lies not just in the doing, but also in the learning. They have to learn a lot of aspects such as working with the sound, lighting, costumes, music, editing, marketing and much more. The de-emphasis on specialization means that the new filmmakers are less likely to develop the specialized skills that the film industry and large film marketing agencies demand. Ultimately, it is a hit or a miss situation, depending on the director's ability to wear multiple hats.
Lack of quality
"When you start out as a filmmaker, you do parodies, because you cannot really compete on a studio level."-Bill Paxton
New or Indie filmmakers cannot match or reach the same level of production quality and value from the big film studios. The big production studios will always have the advantages of budget, cast, film equipment, production, marketing, and business tools on their side. The audience prefers to watch a high-quality movie over a low-quality one.
While filmmaking is an art, it is also a serious business. Making money is serious business. Funding is a real challenge faced by most aspiring filmmakers. Most of them put their own money to start the movie. Maintaining a steady cash flow throughout the making of the film is a challenge as well. When you are making a low-budget movie, getting insurance is also a challenge. It is a risk that you take if you don't get one. Anything can go wrong on the sets from people getting hurt to things getting damaged. Managing finances is a big challenge for filmmakers. Ideally, your film budget should be able to stand the scrutiny of investors seeking cost-effective production, as well as a reasonable rate of return.
Marketing is a big challenge for indie filmmakers who are limited by budget and contact constraints. Large production studios have both big budgets as well as valuable connections for promoting their movie. Every move of the filmmaker should count - strategy and budget. Apart from marketing strategy and budget, another challenge faced by filmmakers is the elevator pitch. Most filmmakers cannot describe their movie quickly, accurately, and persuasively. "Why should we watch your movie?" is a common question that most filmmakers cannot answer right.
Lack of insights
"Nobody will ever notice that. Filmmaking is not about the tiny details. It's about the big picture."- Ed Wood
Most filmmakers don't know the pulse of their audience.It could be due to their lack of experience or intelligent tools, or both. When the filmmaker has no clue about the audience insights, It's hard to make a movie that connects with them and earns a profit.
"People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don't have a middle or an end any more. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning."- Steven Spielberg
The film industry delivers few hits because of the lack of innovative storytelling. Content is king as evidenced by the recent small-budget blockbusters with innovative storylines in the Hindi film industry - Andhadhun, Badhai Ho, Stree, Raazi, etc. The audience is rejecting standard storylines.
Today, it is the trend of sequels, remakes, and remixes, creating low expectations among audiences, and ultimately devaluing the entire film industry. Innovating storytelling is a problem for most filmmakers today.
"Everybody's a filmmaker today"-John Milius
Technology has completely transformed the film industry. Be it the production, editing, post-production, movie marketing, and more. One of the most prominent outcomes of the digital revolution in filmmaking is the cost reductions. This affordability has led to an increase in more products than buyers, and thus more competition.
Today's filmmakers are forced to embrace the digital revolution or risk being left behind in the race. Smart filmmakers adopt the benefits and popularity of the internet and digital platforms guided by potential for profit. They have a robust social media strategy to evaluate what is making an impact and gain smart insights with all the available data. They increase their audience loyalty and engagement by having a clear and robust social media strategy for their movie promotions.
The digital revolution has not only changed the sound and image capture but also cinema distribution as well. Cinema distribution is very different and more challenging now. Many new and indie filmmakers are finding it tough to achieve their targets with the traditional film distribution model. Indie filmmakers face several distribution challenges. First, they have the tough task of distinguishing themselves from the other filmmakers in a fragmented audience market amidst increasing competition. Second, is the lack of audience insights. Third, is creating what works for the audience. Successful filmmakers know how to communicate with television and cinema owners to deliver saleable content in the best format that provides maximum revenue. Most develop a hybrid distribution strategy that encompasses traditional cinema, DVD, and television releases along with online distribution.
"My three Ps: Passion, Patience, Perseverance. You have to do this if you've got to be a filmmaker."-– Robert Wise
Big production houses can make movies, whereas most filmmakers cannot afford that luxury. Most filmmakers have the resources to make a movie once in a few years only as compared to big studios. It is also one of the reasons why most filmmakers are unknown entities to the audience.
It is an area where a lot of directors and producers struggle as they do not talk enough about it: Sustainability.
It takes almost superhuman effort to make a full feature film. Most filmmakers make the mistake of treating filmmaking like a sprint. It's not so! Filmmaking is like a marathon. Most filmmakers lose steam after the making of their movie and do not go the full distance. They completely underestimate the importance of selling or finding an audience for their film.
The film-cycle consists of the following six phases:
4. Movie Promotion
6. Finding an audience
A smart filmmaker respects and works on all the phases equally to create a unique and successful work that fully engages the audience, and brings a return to its investors.
Filmmakers face several issues starting from raising money to pay for the production, assuming multiple roles in a film to reduce costs as much as possible, understanding the pulse of the audience that they are trying to reach, and distributing the final movie through different channels.
While we identified and listed all these challenges in this article, it is important to find the right solutions for them. In our next article, we discuss the solutions for these pressing challenges faced by any filmmaker especially related to film promotion and marketing.