28 January 2010

Collaboration Nation

by guest columnists Jessica King and Julie Keck.  Follow them on Twitter.
Traditionally, the studio system has, amongst other things, institutionalized collaboration.  And most indie film makers, no matter how indie they are, crave access to a studio’s resources: countless screenwriters, directors, actors, cinematographers, composers, etc, all available and willing to work on projects that are organized and funded by Papa Studio.  Now, however, the Old Model is floundering, the gold-plated door knocker is out of reach.  Indie filmmakers have been left out in the cold to figure out what the New Model is.

So just what do you do when the mythical support systems you’ve been dreaming about are taken off the table?  What do you do when you lose all hope of being swept off your feet by a handsome, charming studio offering guidance, connections, and money?  You become what it is that you seek. 
Need money for your new project?  Utilize a crowd-funding site like IndieGoGo or Kickstarter.  Need a website to promote your new project?  Set up a free one through Blogger or WordPress.  Not sure how to distribute your own movie?  Read Jon Reiss’ new book, Think Outside the Box Office, and take notes.  Want to build an audience?  Find friends and fans through Twitter and Facebook.

Don’t be fooled: making movies is still a lot of work.  But we can’t forget that we have resources and roadmaps.  Furthermore, just because we’re working independently doesn’t mean we have to work in isolation.

Social media has become incredibly important to filmmakers as a way to not only promote their work but to connect and share with other film makers.  In some ways, social media outlets can operate in the same way that the studio system does, especially in terms of allowing people with similar interests/mindsets to find one another and collaborate.

And it’s the last part that’s key: collaboration.  We are currently writing a feature film for Phil Holbrook (@PhilonTilt), another indie filmmaker whom we met through Twitter.  A studio executive did not decide that we might be a good match for Phil.  He did, and we agreed.  And, because we’re working outside of the system, we’re not just going to hand over a script and move on.  Without studio oversight, our roles are less defined, and we have the opportunity to be more creative and flexible, to be involved in the process from beginning to end. 

We have high hopes for what lies ahead, but we know that things won’t always go smoothly; sharing ideas and coming to consensus isn’t easy.  There will be bumps and mistakes along the way, which may sometimes hinder us, but they’ll eventually lead to moments of clarity and greater creative leaps. 

We feel like this sort of collaboration - filmmakers meeting and sharing their skills, talents, and expertise - will lead to greater personal growth and more resources for whoever comes next. What we figure out during this go-around will be something that the next guy can start with and build from. 

Jessica King and Julie Keck have been making films as King is a Fink for 10 years.  Their ultra low budget shorts focus on flawed characters, awkward interactions, and honest emotions.  Their short films SNOW BUNNY and LIBIDOLAND are making the rounds on the film festival circuit.  In addition to making shorts, King and Keck also write feature-length screenplays.  They're currently working on a dramatic thriller and adapting a naughty memoir. You can find out more about them at http://kingisafink.com.


Maria Lokken said...

Hey Jessica and Julie - this article is spot on. There is a new way for filmmakers and producers to create and promote. While there is no longer a 'white knight' ready to save independent filmmakers in the form of a big studio, there is something better and that's the internet and social media as you've said in this article.

I believe big studios are and will change their operating basis and turn more to social networking for ideas and distribution, because that's where the audience is and will continue to grow in the next five years.

King is a Fink said...

Hey, thanks, Maria, for the lovely comment.

We're definitely ready to be our own white knights. Now, if we could only remember where we put our horses...

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