“If you can get a little bit of attention, a little bit of success on the festival circuit, people say, “Well, what would you want to do next?” And the tricky thing is, if you don’t have a specific thing, you can’t capitalize on that moment.”
— Christopher Nolan
What is an indie film portfolio?
An indie film portfolio is a collection of films you have created to demonstrate your skills as an independent filmmaker. An independent filmmaker has no real backing from studios, significant producers, Hollywood entities, or equivalents. Almost every filmmaker has to start this way to prove themselves to the industry.
It is crucial to create a slate of films before considering bigger objectives. Too many filmmakers concentrate on a ‘lottery-ticket’ style film that will skyrocket them to fame and fortune, but they don’t truly understand what it means to be a filmmaker. If you study the great filmmakers currently working and of the past, you will soon see that they produced many small-scale indie shorts and feature films before getting their break.
Why is creating a film portfolio Important?
A film portfolio should be created to showcase your work, but it should also showcase your skillset as an entrepreneurial filmmaker. For example, Christopher Nolan produced three short films before making a feature film. His first three independent short films and feature took a decade to make, which led to his breakout feature film, “Memento”, twelve years after he started film production.
Nolan proves that building out a selection of indie films is a sure-fire way of separating yourself from the crowd. Honing one’s craft and skillsets while producing a slate of movies is a tried and tested method. Making amateur films or bad films and ruining your career in the early stages is nonsense. There are many examples of all-time great filmmakers making poor films in the early days — of course, they did, as they were new and learning their craft! Even Stanley Kubrick hated a couple of his first films and wanted one of them ripped from the history books.
By producing a portfolio, you tell the industry that you are proficient and hellbent on creating a lasting film legacy. You are stating that you are in this for the long run and will keep working on your style, tone and methods until you get ample opportunity. Yes, they are outliers like Tarantino and others who broke a little faster. But even in Tarantino’s case, he did half-make a feature film that was highly amateur and never saw the light of day before writing ‘True Romance.’ A script that he sold for funds to make his first significant feature, ‘Reservoir Dogs.’ So, in all honesty, he struggled too in the first years. If there’s no struggle, there’s no reward!
Creating an Independent Film Portfolio
Filmmaking is a complicated and expensive medium to master. However, if you have the passion and the drive, it is possible to create a film portfolio without spending a lot of money. How do I know? Because I have been there and done it many times over. I had no contacts, cash, skills, connections or equipment when I started, but I had a ton of heart. My ambition led me to a film set as an untrained actor; I began a semi-professional career learning from the inside out.
Self-education is essential, and an entrepreneurial spirit in creating indie films from nothing. I have written a book that was just released that is the perfect guide in creating low-budget films to help you begin your slate of movies that you can sell. It starts with the idea and morphs into a fully-fledged project once you tap into the ready-made online pools, such as Facebook Groups and other places. You can buy my book here Filmmaker by Heart
Alternatively, follow along with my articles here, where I will talk in-depth about my film journey and the funny stories along the way! As there were quite a few. I wish you well on your journey. Let me know your thoughts below, and if you have any questions, do let me know.