This June brings me 4 years in the UK and while my life currently looks like pickups and dropoffs, Year 1 homework, client calls, and keeping ahead of the new trendy aspect ratio, it’s easy to forget how this all started for me. A dear friend of mine is currently on the festival circuit with her new short film and when we caught up the other day, the memories came flooding back of my life in NYC working on indie projects. It’s been a great exercise in hindsight - how did those moments make me a better producer, especially in the video content world? For me, there were three big learnings that still resonate with me today and act as my north star at times when life gets busy here at BearJam. Without further ado, here’s what indie producing taught me:
Producing is All About Inspiration
Let’s be honest, sometimes calling a project “ indie” is basically a different way to say… we’ve got no money. Often, the name of the game here is to inspire people to jump on board and it’s an excellent exercise in any creative industry. It helps you connect to the why & how behind what you are creating. Who is the audience? What do we want them to feel / explore? What do I want the energy on set to be? Why should people believe in this as much as I do? Connecting back to that inspiration can help make pre-pro all that much more seamless, it can shift the way you are speaking to people while asking them to come on board and it will keep the shoot and edit process focused as you hone in on a story that will inspire your audience. And, probably most importantly, it will help you survive the early call times, the late nights and the moments that feel like this:
Yours truly on set for Women and Sometimes Men, directed by Lesley Demetriades Carroll
Go Where the Wind Takes You
In 2015, I helped produce an indie feature that took place in Brooklyn with a director who was fierce, passionate and inspiring. She led us all through a whirlwind of a two week shoot and the feeling when we wrapped was priceless. We stuck together as a group and as opportunities came up, we all buckled down in each other’s projects. I said yes to everything, whether it was my strength or not, and it led me to many new learnings; from archival producer on a NYC burlesque doc to comedy web series director. It was a combination of trust that had been built along with the willingness on my end to ask for help and stick my neck out as much as I could. I know corporate & agency creation can get caught up in titles & roles, but there are opportunities everywhere to take a more winding path within your current environment. The trust of your colleagues around you combined with the energy of saying “yes” can take you somewhere you’ve never been before!
Something Will Inevitably Go Wrong. That's When The Fun Starts.
I heard this constantly during my early indie days and it still holds true to video content production today. No matter how good your pre-pro is, something will always be thrown in the mix. It’s inevitable. A crew member will drop out, the creative direction will change at the last minute, the weather is awful, etc. This is the moment where you find what you’re made of and the fun starts! Problem-solving, remaining agile, being able to pivot - it should all be in the tool belt. Each time it’s happened, it’s made watching what we created on the other side that much sweeter.
And there we have it! I know it’s easy to get caught up in content creation being results driven these days, whether the brief is aimed at consumers or b2b, etc. but, at the end of the day, we are still getting a chance to create something from the ground up, something that has never existed before. There’s magic in that and it’s always available for you to come back to.