The declaration of independent filmmaking An insider's guide to making movies outside of Hollywood

Mark Polish

Book - 2005

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Orlando : Harcourt c2005.
Main Author
Mark Polish (-)
Other Authors
Michael Polish (-), Jonathan Sheldon
1st ed
Physical Description
xi, 310 p. : ill. ; 21 cm
Includes index.
  • Preface
  • Introduction: The Pipe Dream
  • 1. What Makes a Film Independent?
  • 2. Our First Day
  • 3. Writing
  • 4. Pricing Your Film
  • 5. Financing Your Film
  • 6. Preproduction
  • 7. Casting
  • 8. Production Design
  • 9. Camera
  • 10. Producing
  • 11. Directing
  • 12. Postproduction
  • 13. Film Editing
  • 14. Music
  • 15. Sound
  • 16. Independent Distribution
  • 17. Welcome to Hollywood
  • Epilogue
  • Acknowledgments
  • Glossary
  • Movie Synopses
  • Index
  • Photo Credits
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This trio of award-winning independent film actors-writers-directors-producers reveal how their desire to make movies that fulfilled their vision led them to create a rigorous, economical regimen that, for those "willing to forego a visit to the dentist so they can instead buy film stock," and who aren't well-versed in the technical and logistical aspects of film-making, is well worth the book's cover price. Drawing on their experiences making three feature films (Twin Falls Idaho is perhaps the best known), the Polish brothers walk would-be filmmakers step-by-step from script-writing to post-production to distribution, with an explanation of each part of the process. The amount of detail packed into short chapters (particularly the chapters on directing and editing) is impressive, and informative sidebars and anecdotes about actors like James Woods and Nick Nolte complement the text's how-to aspects. With their wise and simple advice, the Polish brothers and their co-author, Sheldon, have done aspiring filmmakers (but not their dentists) a great favor. Photos. (Oct.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Review by Library Journal Review

DIY film literature grows with these two additions to the genre. Drawing on many years of experience as a screenwriting professor and story analyst, Gilles (NYU Tisch Sch. of the Arts; The Screenwriter Within) now attempts to venture into a broader topic: the experience of going through film school. Readers hoping for a comprehensive encapsulation will be disappointed. Direction is only touched on and technical aspects are barely considered in favor of a focus on writing (not a bad strategy for film beginners to adopt). Included are essays on finding script ideas, writing exercises, writing short scripts, and rewriting, as well as extensive guidance on treatment writing and outlining and advice about working with agents. Filmmakers Mark and Michael Polish employ a drastically different style and method, culling their experience writing, producing, and directing three moderately successful feature films-Norfolk, Jackpot, and Twin Falls Idaho. Chronicled here is the entire filmmaking process, from conception and fund-raising to shooting and finishing to selling and marketing one's film. Overall, the Polish brothers, joined by Jonathan Sheldon, head of their company's development, write in a way that illuminates the details more clearly than most technical scribes. While this approach doesn't raise Declaration above some of the genre's standards, e.g., Lenny Lipton's Independent Filmmaking, the authors' narrative form will certainly appeal to aspiring filmmakers. Meanwhile, what Gilles really offers is explicit guidance on film writing; that isn't to say that his book doesn't have a place in the growing canon of filmmaking books for neophytes, just that the title is misleading. Both works are recommended for general collections and especially for film libraries and performing arts collections.-Michael Tierno, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

What Makes a Film Independent?It's hard to say exactly what is or isn't an independent film. Most people think of financial limitations as the hallmark of an indie, but a low budget is by no means a definitive marker. If that were the case, pornography and soft-core cable movies would have to be considered independent films. Perhaps the best way to approach a definition is to define what independent film is independent of. Certainly, part of this is being unattached to the major Hollywood studios, Hollywood micro-studios, or Hollywood production companies, which ordinarily prioritize financial gain before artistic endeavor.This should be seen for what it is. It is entirely understandable that with tens of millions of dollars on the line, profitability has to be an imperative for a studio and its film executives. To them, movies are products. To ensure profitability, studios test-market and edit a film accordingly, control the casting, make mandatory script changes, and demand contractual control over fundamental creative decisions that will have an impact on the essence of the film. Historically, the independent filmmakers' gospel has been to shun decisive creative interference. The films they made were, thus, divorced from the Hollywood studio system. An independent film was the way for a director to show a studio what he or she was capable of without its involvement.Creative independence in the film world is risky because the chance of success is so remote. Of the thousands of films made each year with private equity (money that comes from an outside source), only a small number are accepted into the Sundance Film Festival or another major festival, and of those, even fewer get picked up for distribution. The ability to secure private equity often has more to do with the state of the economy than the quality of a screenplay. But for a first-time independent filmmaker, private equity is usually the only option to pursue. The creative upside to this is that being removed from the "hit-making" devices of Hollywood allows a young filmmaker to find his or her own voice. This is the other part of what independent connotes. Whatever the story, an independent film attempts to tell it in an original, visionary way. Attempt is the key word here, because it doesn't mean the film is brilliant or even good, but it does imply that the filmmaker is trying to express his or her vision as an artist. Of course, this is a subjective evaluation. However, we contend it is quite like the obscenity definition given by the late Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart: "You know it when you see it."Unfortunately, this interpretive nature of independent film's definition has allowed virtually any movie that is just slightly left of center to hide in the oeuvre of independent film. Savvy Hollywood marketers now regularly label low-budget films, regardless of their artistic ambitions, as "indies." Independent film as a catch moniker is so broadly used nowadays that i Excerpted from The Declaration of Independent Filmmaking: An Insider's Guide to Making Movies Outside of Hollywood by Mark Polish, Michael Polish, Jonathan Sheldon All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.