How to Make a Crappy Independent Film

I go to film festivals from time to time. It helps that I live in LA and there seems to be a plethora of them for every demographic and geographic subsection that is Los Angeles.

I go because when I see a “gem” of a film, I brag to everyone that I saw it before them. Plus, it’s good to support the up and coming artists who will eventually lay siege to the Hollywood establishment.

And there’s all the bad films that one must endure during a film festival circuit.

I just went to one, not too long ago, to see a friend make his debut as an actor (kinda cool — he has a bright future ahead of him).

As I was watching all of these films, I realized that there are certain commonalities that deem an independent film as a bad one. Kinda how like some people say that you can tell that someone you date is a bad because of things you notice in the first five minutes (nervous tics, mention of his appearance on To Catch a Predator (30 Rock and intertexuality babeeeee), etcetera).

To aspiring film makers, please do not put the following in your indepdendent film or it will be crappy:

1. Bad piano music as a soundtrack (composed by your friend).

2. Ugly people as your leads (and I don’t mean like plain, but just kinda repulsive ugly). No one cares about ugly people. That’s why we like to (go to) movies. Because it’s about beautiful people. However, your best best in an independent film is to go that je-ne-se-quai cute route.

3. Shocking sex premise (Sex, Lies, and Videotape was a one shot deal — no one cares in this day of ubiquitous internet porn and the infamous 2 Girls and 1 Cup video).

4. Ambiguous endings. It works for larger serialized works or fully developed features. On a smaller scale it makes it seem like you ran out of money and just copped out.

5. The girl/boy you wanna get down with as your lead. You avoid problem #2, because you avoid the unattractive actor problem, but invariably, acting prowess falls on the wayside. It’s very common to see very very attractice actors in the lead who can’t act for crap. Of course, you may have just cast that person, but most of us in the audience are wondering how much that guy/girl had to put out in order to get the part.

Saw Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Wow, Cate Blanchett is awesome, even when she is so obviously hamming it up. End of review.

5 thoughts on “How to Make a Crappy Independent Film

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  1. #4 was hilarious, yet so, so true. I don’t know that it always works for larger films though. Personally, I was not very impressed by ‘No Country for Old Men,’ which felt sort-of ambiguous and/or pretentious at the end.

    If you liked Indiana Jones, you might want to check out a review I did of it. I’ll be keeping an eye on your site.

  2. “No one cares about ugly people. That’s why we like to (go to) movies.” That’s funny 🙂

    I saw Iron Man too on the word of a friend who doesn’t really see a lot …what I liked (and sorry for the mis-post) was that they let Downey do some ad-lib stuff – at least I think. Working with the robots for example, he was so natural, and I doubt they scripted all that stuff.

  3. Troy, thanks for the catch on the typo (or omission) on number two — it’s been corrected, parenthetically, of course.

    I agree with you, some of the stuff that Downey came up with had to have been improv — it had its own cadence and smoothness. I now want to go back and see some of his other works to see if that’s a common theme (it was for sure there in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang).

  4. If you are ugly you should be interesting ugly, not bland ugly, and you must be able to act. If you are bland ugly and cannot act, I can see this author’s point.

    If you are bland ugly and a good actor then the role had better fit you. Don’t try to pass off that the ugly enjoy the social benefits of the pretty or have the effect on others that the good-looking do.

    True dat, that the public wants to luxuriate on the visage of the beautiful, but if you are to be true to a role you must at times bypass this bubblegum philosophy that caters to the whimsy of idiots and cast the ugly actor, just make sure the ugly person’s ugliness is interesting and that they can act and that they have the screen self-esteem of one at their attractiveness rating. Otherwise you are making a movie about nerds.

    One thing the author is definitely right about is that beauty is god in the world of film. The further away from deterioration that people can get the better they feel.

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