How-To

Filmmakers! Don't Overlook Production Stills

Hermine Muskat talks with professionals in the field about how and why to prioritize still photography during production.


Murray Close took this image for, well, you know the film.

Filmmakers Liz Canner and David Tames, photographers Aimee Spinks and Mikki Ansin, and film journalist Erin Trahan boil down the points of why capturing still photos should be a high priority during production.

Please visit our accompanying photo album on Facebook.

Can I Shoot My Low Budget Indie Film in New York City?

Indie producer Rebecca Reynolds explains how her production company, 8180 Films, maximized a change in film tax credit policy.


Actor Stephen Lang on the monitor (and behind the desk) on the double-duty set of "The Girl on the Train."

"Let’s just say we started out to shoot a low budget psychological thriller in rural northwestern Michigan and ended up shooting an ultra low budget neo noir thriller in New York City," says The Girl on the Train's producer, Rebecca Reynolds. Here she shares tips and trade-offs for shooting on location in the Big Apple.

Wondering if you can afford or manage an indie shoot in New York City? Sure, if you have to, like we did...

Crowd Funding 101: How to Maximize Your Online Campaign

Brandon Walter Irvine helps filmmakers crack the code of crowd funding.


Michael Cuomo as Staff Sgt Cole Lewis, both star and producer of "Happy New Year." Photo by Nina Berman.

Crowd Sourcing. Crowd Funding. Kickstarter. IndieGoGo. Everyone's either doing it, talking about it, or wishing they knew enough to utilize these new approaches to making a movie from the ground up. Here's your primer on who, what, and how.

The Big Players and What Differentiates Them

Tips on Securing Broadcast on National Public Television

Filmmaker and station relations consultant Jennifer Owensby Sanza shares the advice she gathered from mentors and firsthand experience about how to secure public television broadcast.


Jon (right), Jennifer Owensby Sanza's brother, inspired her first documentary film.

In this guide to securing public television broadcast, filmmaker and station relations consultant Jennifer Owensby Sanza spills the beans on how to reach the staggering potential only public television can offer--reaching 99 percent of American homes.

Getting my first documentary, The Teachings of Jon, broadcast nationally on public television felt like walking through a minefield, blindfolded. As a recipient of a completion funds grant from Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), I was fortunate to have the best mentors to guide me through the process.

Are Pitch Sessions the New Black?

Maddy Kadish investigates how not to swing and miss at your next local pitch session.


Still from "Radio Free Albemuth," co-produced by Elizabeth Karr.

Pitch sessions are becoming the go-to attraction at film festivals and conferences.

Pitch sessions are becoming the go-to attraction at film festivals and conferences. How are filmmakers and expert panelists making the most of these meetings?

After attending a few sessions firsthand, The Independent asked film professionals for their input on how to maximize the pitch opportunity. Turns out the answers aren’t so simple. We spoke with:

Securing Distribution with Netflix

Many filmmakers want to reach Netflix's 16 million subscribers, but submission guidelines and criteria for films without third-party distributors aren't quite clear yet.

This could be your movie. Photo courtesy of Netflix.

Indie filmmakers and DIY distributors are vying for a shot at Netflix distribution. Though Netflix added 300 streaming independent films to their service one year ago, the submission and selection process for indie films is still evolving.

By Michelle L. Martin and Katie O'Connell

Doc Doctor's Story Strategies: Looking for the Perfect Producer? Keep Looking!

In her 7th installment of "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi debunks the myth that waiting for the "right" producer will dissolve all of your film's problems.


Waiting by the phone. Photo by Alan Cleaver.

In her 7th installment of "Story Strategies: Debunking the Myths of Storytelling," Doc Doctor Fernanda Rossi debunks the idea that Ms. or Mr. Right producer is just a phone call, or Facebook chat away... and once together your film will live happily ever after.

Myth #7

“I’ll go on with the film when I find the right producer.” Keep looking!

The myth in all its glory

Maximizing Film Exhibition Quality at Festivals

Prep work and communication with festival staff can ensure a top notch film debut.


Jump on the chance to have a tech check before a festival screening. Photo by Torley.

Finally, your work screens at a festival. But the sound is off and it looks terrible. Kelly Gallagher asks festival programmers and filmmakers how to increase exhibition quality at festivals. In addition to post-production, improve your audience's experience through preparation and developing rapport with festival staff.

Many filmmakers forget that there are plenty of final touches to be made after the last edit is approved and digital formatting requirements are met for festival submissions. Even after festival acceptances flood your in-box, there are ways to maintain creative control over your film's exhibition.

How an Innovative Web Doc Secured Traditional Distribution

French filmmakers David Dufresne and Philippe Brault used web engagement to stir interest in American prison reform.


"Prison Valley" starts traditional and goes multimedia to engage its audience.

Led by two French filmmakers, the web doc Prison Valley addresses prison reform in the US with an interactive online format, making a splash in the world of digital journalism and securing distribution with Arte TV in France.

Prison Valley, a multimedia prison reform project, tells the tale of Fremont County, Colorado: a tiny patch of the Southwest packed with 13 prisons and a local economy that revolves around the incarceration of 7,735 people—many of whom are the county’s own residents.

From Journalist to Documentarian – Five Tips for a Better Documentary

Think you’ve got an idea for a documentary? Before you shoot, hear how professional journalists turn good ideas into engaging nonfiction stories.


The documentary <i>Shooting Beauty</i> puts cameras in the hands of adults with disabilities.

Ever wonder how, exactly, some documentaries can successfully embrace and tell a story, all while engaging the audience? So do we. The Independent's Michael Grosse highlights five important techniques on how to effectively research and write a better documentary.

Two-time Emmy Award winner June Cross has written, produced, or edited about a dozen documentaries in a career that spans more than three decades. She is also an associate professor of Journalism at Columbia University, where she teaches graduate-level courses in reporting and documentary film.

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