by: Suzanne Ballantyne
This is not about how to make Hollywood films, made-for-tv films or even low budget films. This is not about making films whose purpose is to entertain. This is about a different species altogether - the indie auteur film, short or long - the darling of the latest 'it' festival - with city names likes Gotenburg, Hamburg, Kerala and Rotterdam in their title. The kind of film that press people, pretentious programmers, art house proprietors and film academians piss themselves for. The kind of film that might just launch your career.
So here goes - ten tips to indie auteurdom
1. The Plot
When thinking of your indie auteur script think sexual triangles.
Two women fighting over a man - two men over a woman. It's a well trodden path to indie genius.
2. The Script
Come up with a script which pays 'homage' that is, closely follows the plot points of a previous indie gem by a bona fide indie genius- i.e Francois Truffaut's JULES ET JIM. Most of the audience won't have seen the film you're paying homage to anyway and even if they have they won't quite get in what way you have been paying 'homage' to it.
Dialogue should be minimal. You do not want to overstate the case. Keep the audience guessing as to what exactly your film is about. Pauses are more important. Have lots of them and keep them long. The camera can then focus on the motionless faces of the actors as the audience desperately try to interpret their thoughts while struggling to figure out exactly what is going on.
Cast your friends and family. They should be weird looking but photogenic. Don't shy away from the fat, the frail and the ugly. It's your job to go where no director has gone before. If they can't act shoot them without sound and add voice over or shoot them from the back. You can always edit out any hints of amateurishness.
Cast actors who can really act - In fact cast the best actors you can as they will save your ass and add weight to your project that should stifle all and any niggling questions about your ability. Great actors want to preserve their own reputation and they may carry you along with them.
Take a scene with a few people then go back and shoot it again - each time from a different characters point of view. This will be interpreted as the director making a point and will add weight to your wafer thin plot. In fact just taking a very basic plot line and retelling it from each characters point of view is enough of a script for the indie auteur.
If you liked tips 1-5 read 6-10.