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Seven Thoughts on Our First Hell-Ride Through Filmmaking
By Logan and Noah Miller,
Authors of Either You're in or You're in the Way: Two Brothers, Twelve Months, and One Filmmaking Hell-Ride to Keep a Promise to Their Father

What follows was written from the IGNORANCE of having only produced and directed one film, and the ARROGANCE of having only produced and directed one film.

1. Every day is the Cuban Missile Crisis: Your world could blow up.

Shooting an independent film is a radioactive adventure more volatile than a drunken dictator scratching his back with the nuclear joystick. At any moment the entire project could get really TOASTY. Why? Because making a movie is an interdependent relationship in which everyone and everything depends on the other thing. If an actor has a nervous breakdown, the grip truck gets a blow out, the cops stumble upon your guerrilla flamethrower scene in downtown Los Angeles, the caterer leaves the mayonnaise sandwiches in the sun all afternoon, or your financier drops out a week from shooting because his wife catches him in the clubhouse sauna with Reggie the golf pro -- if any of these realistic scenarios occur -- you'll be forced to reestablish peace in an apocalyptic wasteland. And, as every Sunday school student knows, an apocalypse is always bad.

2. Surround yourself with gray hair and listen.

Making movies is team art. So why not assemble the most experienced team possible? And those with gray hair tend to have more experience than those without. Sure, some people color their hair. And sure, not everybody goes gray. And sure, some rookies have gray hair. But the odds are that if they have gray hair and were working in the movie business prior to the Just For Men craze, then they have much wisdom to impart. You'll do yourself and your audience a tremendous service if you're open to gray-haired advice as you tackle the greatest headache of your life. If you choose not to listen to the sages, then by all means, reinvent the wheel and see if it rolls. 

3. Never wait for a phone call.

Phones never ring when you stare at them. We're not sure why, but we think it violates the second or third law of communication. In order to make your movie you're going to have to make thousands of phone calls. And if you leave a message and wait for that person to call you back -- you're better off waiting for the cow to jump over the moon. At first, nobody is going to care about your dream but you. Nobody. Of course, you want to give people a reasonable amount of time to call you back, say, a half hour or so. Make the phone your friend and dial your future.

4. Stay relentless. Rely on no one.

Have you ever seen a sled dog mush? They run and run with no idea where they're going or why their tongue is hanging out their mouth -- just a destination somewhere on the other side of the blizzard. If you're not relentless, you'll never leave the blizzard and your movie will never get made. So be the sled dog -- and MUSH ON!

5. There are only solutions.

This could easily be titled "there are only problems." But where would that get us? Frustrated, hopeless, and drunk. So we need to find a way. No matter what. We've postponed our lives, our wives and husbands and children, our friends and family, ruined our credit and exhausted our savings in pursuit of our dream. So we must find the solution in every problem, and they are constant. If you focus on the difficulty instead of a way out, then you'll fail to make your movie. There's always a solution.  

6. Spend the financier's money as if it were your own: Don't be a scumbag.

Karma comes to mind on this one. But let's say you don't believe in that spiritual quackery. Fine. You'll still want to conserve your budget and spend it on the important stuff -- what's on screen, rather than sushi dinners and a drop-top with twenty inch rims. You've starved for years so the temptation to spend a little on yourself and your friends will be there. But don't rationalize the wasting of some rich person's money. This money is for you to make the best movie possible. Your movie will last forever; the sushi will last a couple hours, and the car, depending on your driving skills, will either be crashed, stolen, or repossessed. You want to establish trust with your financier. You may need to go back to them for more financing along the way. You also want to make another movie. And if you scrupulously spend your budget you'll not only make a better movie but you'll also show future investors your extraordinary ability to make a lot from a little. More importantly, you won't be a scumbag. And if you're lucky, you might get some good karma.

7. Either you're in or you're in the way.

Don't waste time trying to convert everyone. You're a filmmaker, not Jesus Christ. You don't need to walk across water to get people on your team. There is no need to enter a lengthy debate with those who don't believe in your objective. Thank them for their opinion and move on. Find the believers and spend your time with them. Your time is all you have and you'll need all of it to make your movie.

©2009 Logan and Noah Miller, authors of Either You're in or You're in the Way: Two Brothers, Twelve Months, and One Filmmaking Hell-Ride to Keep a Promise to Their Father

Author Bio
Logan and Noah Miller, identical twins raised as roofers in northern California, dreamed of being baseball stars. When that dream failed, they found professional success as bingo callers. Always staying together, the brothers were briefly suckered into the world of modeling, somehow avoided the circus, and finally with seventeen credit cards, pursued a career in filmmaking. In 2006, the brothers were awarded the Panavision New Filmmaker Grant, and their screenwriting, directorial, and acting debut Touching Home premiered at the San Francisco International Film Festival in 2008. They live in northern California and hold no degrees.

For more information on the book please visit http://www.inorintheway.com/