12 points off the top of my head no one tells you.
1. Rehearse more than a day or two (weeks of rehearsal..the idea it gets old or “un-reactionary” by rehearsing is short-sighted & simply wrong). Spend time with your actors letting them do their thing. Let your actors do their jobs… but rehearse more than a day or two. Help them find the emotion of the scene above everything else, long before you get on a set. (Again, let THEM find the emotion of the scene.. and let them REACT to what and whoever has been brought in with them). Indie needs this …we do not have the $$$ to rely on not getting it right.
2. 1st time film actors – note #1 … blinking is bad on film. Silly as it sounds.. huge in delivery. Note #2 dialogue should be memorized to be like typing. Words should “fall” out of your mouth without any conscious awareness outside of pure reaction. Lines should be to the level of your name, or typing on a keyboard, or the words to Happy Birthday. Memorization memorization memorization. Reaction is never instinctual if you are remembering what you are going to say.
3. Do not underestimate this.. “sound is more important than light.” (Light is important but sound, especially for indie.. is critical) Along those lines… Do not overlight. If you are not shooting yourself… I have seen too many indie films overlight themselves into looking like a high school stage production.
4. Feed your crew well. Get someone who is good at getting free stuff for your crew. Lots of good food..not just pizza. Go to high end restaurants and put them in the credits. (You need a good salesperson to do this, be it you or someone else).
5. Have 1 person at least that fully no holds barred believes in you..and treat them as they duly deserve. (If you can’t get one single person to believe in you… then you need to take a look at why)
6. Do a DOD schedule. (Day out of Days) and rely on it. (If you do not know what one is…find out. Make sure it includes things like light of day, int/ext, props, set ups etc.)
7. STORYBO-A-R-D It does not matter if you do not like to stick to them. To do #6 … you need to do this. It will remove many of the problems you (and the rest of your cast & crew) shouldn’t be worrying about when you get on a set/location.
8. Get an understanding of the HTML5 debate… and where interactive is going to play in how people view your project.
9. Make sure you have a backup roof over your head. Make sure you can eat. If it means taking a year to film… then take the freakin year to film.
10. Do projects that don’t make you hang from a limb to get a single shot you will never be able to hang from again… (If you have a project that needs a big production… do a smaller one first. It’s okay to be 80 years old and still making films.) That way …If it sucked go back and reshoot it.
11. Plan when scheduling… to shoot the shit out of it. Even if you think you got it..prepare your actors (and crew) ahead of principal that there will be many many takes, from as many angles as you can. A film is made in the editing room… bring as many “paints” tools and materials as you can by having an inordinant amount of footage. (We have the ability to do this now with digital..in my starting days we did not).
12. Stay close to the ground, crawl and (Interpret that how you want). Work with what you have…just make it beautiful. When I say beautiful , I mean inside the audience’s head..not in front of them.