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Diary of an Independent Filmmaker
Part: 3 Finding a gremlin in a pond of monsters

It was nearing the end of the summer in Texas and by summer, I mean 100 straight days of 100 degrees or hotter Texas summer. I had finally reached the promise land: Austin, Texas, (well, at least in my mind). It was time to get to working on film and start that comeback that is so easily talked about but harder to get done when it’s staring at you in the face. But the questions were: “where do I start? What do I film?” I needed to start writing something at this point.

Independent film has such a wide array of meanings. I mean, anyone can pick up a camera and film stuff, right? Well, I had a unique approach to becoming a filmmaker:I kind of started backwards in a sense. A lot of people who get into film either start right away by trying to make a film project based on their “natural creativity” and hope it turns out as awesome as they pictured in their minds. Others who have access to a film community around them get their feet wet as an extra on a production. While perhaps these two approaches may work for some, in my humble opinion they are recipes for disaster. You can’t run before you even know how to walk. You can’t wake up one day and decide to be the next Spielberg.

The unique approach I had was starting at crew level, seeing how everything ticks and how things really get done. Working on One Tree Hill as a stand-in and double for a couple years I got to see the everyday life and development of film. The general public who watches a movie or a show does not even think about the time and effort that goes into the process of production, not to mention the madness of post-production such as editing. By easing my way into film from behind the scenes I was able to appreciate the process and madness at multiple levels. I would interact with the actors before the scenes and sit back behind the camera while it was rolling to see the direction of the project.

For example, on any given week an episode of a show that is an hour long takes a full week to shoot. A show employees hundreds of people to work in every little aspect of the process. That week it takes to film is only a piece of the project, then it goes into post-production which produces the final project that we see on our TVs. It is hard to appreciate something that you know nothing about. Someone who just picks up a camera and films their buddies in a terrible interpretation of a horror film is not an independent filmmaker.

So how does past knowledge contribute to future gain? That’s a question I sat here asking myself…realizing perhaps it’s not so much of a question but a start to a journey of filmmaking. I had worked for others, acting out their scripts, I had that knowledge in my back pocket. Now I needed to become an independent filmmaker, something anyone can attempt. But through that attempt comes an end project that shines light through any holes on the surface. You can put your name on a project, brag you are a filmmaker but at the end of the day if you did not live, eat, breath your film the audience will know and your name is only as good as what it is attached to.

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To be continued…

Preston Corbell is an Austin, Texas based filmmaker/actor and clothing designer and also writes about Horror films for Step On magazine. Filmmaker diary part 1 and part 2.
Check out Preston’s latest film here.