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.

I thought it had been stolen, but it was repossessed,” he recalls. “It was either pay for the film or pay for the car. I chose the film.”

Miles from Home would go on to win top honors at some of the smaller film festivals showcasing black talent, including the Independent Black Film Festival, the Washington D.C. Independent Film Festival, and the San Francisco Black Film Festival. “I was running the Palm Beach Film Festival when I heard that Meagan had produced Miles from Home, and I wanted the producers to submit it,” says Damien Douglas, who now serves as president of Mandalay Alliance, a division of Mandalay Entertainment. The film was an audience favorite at the more mainstream Palm Beach fest, bolstering the filmmakers’ belief that Miles from Home has viewership potential beyond the African American market.

When the film was screened at the Urbanworld Film Festival and the ABFF, distributors expressed interest in releasing it as a direct-to-video feature. So far no distributor has stepped up with the right theatrical release opportunity. “Because of the film’s edgy subject matter, distributors think the film is hard to market,” says Hodges, who formed a production company, Freedom Bridge Entertainment (www.freedombridgeent.com), with Good, Ollivierre, and Tamara Bass.

In a strategy to get Miles from Home released in theaters, Hodges and his team have partnered with Mandalay Alliance’s Douglas, who will serve as executive producer, and invested an undisclosed sum in post-production to upgrade the film’s look. Mandalay Alliance will also sponsor a 12-city tour of the film with a strong radio campaign and premiere-style events to generate buzz and interest from distributors. Nevertheless, should Miles from Home not find a suitor, the producers are prepared to go direct-to-video. If successful, Hodges will have completed his goal of bringing his vision to an audience.

Where Does the Money Go?
any variables go into the cost of making an independent film. According to Robert Townsend, filmmaker and former CEO of the Black Family Channel, these include how many cast members there are and if one or several are big stars that command more money. It also depends on where the money is coming from and when investors want to recoup their funds. The writer and director must also get paid, generally based on a percentage of the budget and according to a union pay scale. Paying for a location, equipment, and various production costs (such as food) also chips away at the budget.
“Independent films usually don’t include marketing in the budget,” Townsend reveals. “Once [a filmmaker sells] the film, a marketing strategy comes into play because most likely the film is being sold to a studio that already has relationships in place with radio stations, television networks, etc.”

Maurice Jamal, writer, director, and producer of Dirty Laundry, says that for a film with a few recognizable actors and a $1 million budget, the funds are generally allocated as follows:
Production: Everything that goes into making the film, including equipment, film stock, wardrobe, set design, etc.

Overhead and Abovethe Line Costs:

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