In the new independent cinema context it is all-too easy to fall victim to the seldom-advertized pitfalls of DIY filmmaking. Running the show by yourself or with a very small crew will generally mean that each individual will undertake several roles in the production, and while great projects have come to fruition this way, there are some important issues to consider.
1. Are the multiple roles you assign to yourself or a crewmate logical in their pairing? Production duties break down largely into three categories; technical, logistical and creative. There is some overlap naturally but the idea is that a film will have specific mechanical needs that require careful strategy, otherwise your creative intent will not be delivered. Similarly, if you do not clealry lay out your creative vision, your cinematography and art direction will wander aimlessly and likely end up costing you precious time and money. Taking these concerns into account will mean that you may want to avoid writing, producing, AND directing a project, regardless of how dear it is to you. Relinquishing control is sometimes the absolute best thing you could do for your project (more on this topic later). Another bad idea could be to make your art director or grips also responsible for the cinematography, or to have your sound person do script continuity. Every role is so crucial to the success of your project that the wrong combination of roles could unfairly saddle a collaborator with responsibilities he/she simply cannot accomplish with any concentration or care.
2. Another important rule to consider is to simplify, simplify, simplify, especially if you are producing guerilla-style cinema. Simplicity is always a good thing even on bigger projects and it is often overlooked because inexperience will scare you into overloading your project with gimmicks. It’s like putting too many spices in a dish because you’re afraid it might lack flavour. Don’t be afraid to reduce the scale of your production, to have fewer locations, to rely on simple, communicative shots that will tell the story. Stripping away the fat will also have a much more powerful result: you will find out just how strong your script/idea was in the first place.
3. Buy a cork-board. In this age of technology, tablets, smartphones, and software, indpendents and pros have more production aids at their disposal than ever, but the lack of tactile contact with your materials can have consquences. There is a very real danger that your work will become virtual, existing only in digital format or in your imagination. Filmmaking is about expression, externalizing your ideas. Don’t be afraid to go analog with some old-fashioned cue cards and notebooks. You may discover something about your creative process.