The Making of an Indie

Producing an independent film requires more than talent. Get a close-up look at the development of these movies from idea to screen.

Codeblack. Clanagan is sanguine about his plan to release the film on 100 screens in Southeast markets that are heavily populated by African Americans, such as Jackson, Mississippi; Shreveport, Louisiana; Charlotte, North Carolina; and Norfolk, Virginia. “It’s almost like promoting a gospel play,” says Clanagan, who will use ad campaigns in print, television, radio, and on the Internet to reach the film’s intended audience.

The distribution deal generated a healthy return for investors. “The stars really aligned for this film,” exclaims McCrary Anthony. “And what’s great is that we kept it in the family. I like being in business with my folks.”

Hard Knock Industry
While the producers of Dirty Laundry found a pot of gold waiting for them at the end of their festival run, it doesn’t happen that way for every indie film. Writer, director, producer, and actor Ty Hodges still hasn’t signed a distribution deal after touring the festival circuit with his film, Miles from Home.

Hodges, who starred in MTV’s reality show 24/7, was hungry for material that would fully display his artistic gifts. “I grew up as a child actor, but I was looking to make the transition to adult actor and I wanted a role that would challenge me,” says the 26-year-old.

Instead of waiting for Hollywood to give him his next break, Hodges created his own. “Most stories about African Americans show us in a narrow way,” states Hodges. “I wanted to show us in a different light.” Hi
s provocative film tackles male prostitution.
Hodges’ initial goal was to make a short film, “but when people read the script, everyone said it should be a feature.” His godsister, actress Meagan Good, agreed to star in the film and serve as a producer. The two, along with Marlon Ollivierre, Todd Segal, and Ellen Bukstel, financed/produced the film. “Our plan was to shoot the short for $10,000, then use it to raise funds for the feature,” says Hodges. “However, once we got started we decided to just keep going.”

It took an arduous nine months to complete the film–the average indie is shot in days. The budget of roughly $40,000 was funded largely by the producers; the actors worked on a deferred basis under the Screen Actors Guild’s low budget agreement.

With such a long shoot and low budget, the production encountered significant challenges. “I was shooting two other films over the course of Miles from Home, so I had to make tough choices,” says Good. “I had to pay my bills, but I was not only an actor in the film–I was a producer, so I had greater responsibilities.”

Making Miles from Home was a true test of willpower. Good laments about not being able to pay cast members and how demoralized they were. “We had people who had shot several scenes then didn’t want to continue. We ended up having to cut certain scenes,” she says.

As shooting continued, the budget escalated. Hodges made the film his first priority. “One day I headed out to get [coffee] and my car was gone.

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