Bridging the gap – Indie filmmaker communications between the old guard and the new blood.

The reason to provide proper maintenance for this bridge is obvious and central. Indie film makers all wish to produce a product that is outside the mainstream Hollywood ‘cookie-cutter’ formulas. Films, videos, etc. that are based on new ideas and artist driven techniques, rather than throwing a billion dollars at a CGI/VFX firm to punch up a dead project.

There are numerous examples of great ‘big budget films’, box office receipts are a strong indicator that an audience is being satisfied. While there are plenty of production companies that can fade the heat of a ‘dog of a film’ losing a fortune, indie film is not afforded such a luxury. Most of the film makers I have had contact with or worked beside all want to make something unique and widely accepted. I have heard but a handful say they want to make big money.

So, with the common goal in mind what are some things that can be done to strengthen indie film? Since communication is key in any project involving more than one person, we can start there.

The biggest divide I have seen is the age factor and common cinema history. As an actor/filmmaker who began my professional career after age 50, it took only a day or two to realize that I was working in a field where most of the participants are younger than me. In only a short time I also learned that communicating ideas beyond the use of technical terms was a bit hampered by the fact that not many 25 year-old film makers have seen all the older films, series, etc. that my ‘generation’ have seen. Inversely, not many from my age group are up to date on anime films, new independent projects and ‘game based’ films.

In order to keep this bridge open and widely traveled it is the duty of all of us to look across to the other side. Invest some time watching films you are unfamiliar with, but hear on film sets in lunch discussions. This goes both ways.

I have seen young brilliant film makers stare vacantly and dismiss the mention of an old classic that is a staple for older performers. Also, I have seen older actors/directors/producers totally discount suggestions by a young brilliant filmmaker because they felt the younger person didn’t have enough miles to produce valid points. Our common history must sometimes be created today, in order to strengthen our own skill sets.

I personally recognized this early on as mentioned and immediately set out to remedy the problem, by writing down or messaging myself, movie titles I had heard in conversation that younger artists seemed passionate about. I have watched films based entirely on who the Director of Photography is, rather than the cast. I learned to look for different qualities in films than I once had recognized.
In doing this I have retained the same opinion about some films or styles, but I have more often learned how to communicate with younger film makers.

So for those of us on the big end of life, we should embrace what these ‘new kids’ are doing in film, they are most definitely the future of cinema.

I have drawn blank stares from young film people when I mention actor and director names that are absolute icons in my own life’s history of movies/TV.
This is not any more a criticism of these younger players than the previous statements were of older performers/participants, just because a young director has never heard of Robert Redford or Michael Madsen, don’t write off their experience. They likely have a much wider knowledge of what is happening today in film and television.

After all, Today is where we all want to be working.

One of my personal observances is that too many young filmmaker projects have a cast that is all 25 years old or less. That is great, but we live in a world with people of all ages and some of these projects would benefit from characters with differing life views and experiences.

I see also a lot of older film folks who are simply unwilling to try something new. Maybe a new film genre, or a project that is beyond their comfort zone.

Fortunately there are plenty of young and old film people who already realize this and they are the cement for a strong indie film community.

I am an old dog looking for some new tricks to include in my trick bag.

Nick Milo setting lights while Bryan Ezzell 'blocks'.

Nick Milo setting lights while Bryan Ezzell ‘blocks’.

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