D.I.Y. Filmmaking

What?s Hot, What?s Not

| May / June 2003

Last Christmas, I was visited by the Ghost of Filmmaking?s Future. He appeared in the form of my 15-year-old nephew, Michael Alan, soliciting cash for a camera to shoot and direct a self-written horror trilogy.

Without warning, my previous life as an aspiring filmmaker flashed before my eyes: exorbitant student loans to finance film school; the kindly Boston real-estate-mogul-turned-independent-producer who took me under his wing while I worked on his first film, Next Stop, Wonderland; an amazing three-month internship with my childhood filmmaking hero, Richard Donner; the crash-course career in Hollywood feature film development that ended almost as abruptly as it began; the stunning realization that my storytelling sensibilities made me a square peg in the round hole of ?entertainment? and that, in order for my vision to persevere, I would have to do it myself.

The lesson that took me years (and more than $100,000) to learn took my nephew an afternoon of Internet research. Thanks to burgeoning digital technology, an entire generation of filmmakers now has access to the information and even some of the gear once available only to the industry elite. Whether you?re interested in filmmaking as a profession or you just love to watch good, honest movies, here?s a quick look at the evolution of do-it-yourself filmmaking.

The Ultimate Screening
Room Venue
Sundance Film Festival
in Park City, Utah
Rad Digital Film Festival
in West Hollywood, CA
The Trailblazer Robert Rodriguez
(director, El Mariachi)
This space for rent
The Pedigree Emercon College Film School ($24,000 annual tuition) www.cyberfilmschool.com ($49 tuition)
The Networking Scene $300 lunch at La Maison, Los Angeles Sierra Nevada Pale Ale at your local film salon
The Funding Credit card loans Piggybank raids
The Camera 16mm film Digital video
The Crew Friends from film school, unpaid interns Your neighbors kids
The Performers Contract Screen Actors Guild scale, anywhere from $115 to $4,000 a day Gas, food, lodging... and a DVD burn
The Editing Cut and splice iMac Final Cut Pro
The Distribution Indie arm of a Hollywood studio Email network

Erin Ferdinand is an online intern at Utne.