After going to UCLA film school for writing I landed a manager the first week after graduating (which you can read about here). That manager also got me representation at a major agency and I sold pilots to VH1, G4tv and Mtv but for the most part I was just going on a lot of meetings that kind of went nowhere (which is normal in Hollywood). Even though I am a writer and will always see myself as a writer first I wanted to make films or at least see my work get made and less time at these meetings that kind of lead to nothing.
After several failed starts I finally cracked the code and figured out how to make films with known actors and pro crews without having access to tons of cash or industry connections. This blog is all about how to do that (and some other thoughts and ideas about film).
Why I Decided to Make Films Outside the Hollywood System
I am not an agent hater. I am not a manager hater. In fact, there have been times where I’ve kicked myself in the head for not staying with my representation, but if you’re an independent filmmaker I just don’t think that there’s much an agent or manager can really get out of representing you. And if a rep can’t earn that much representing you, don’t expect them to work that hard for you.
Don’t forget that agents and managers are trying to earn a living and if you’re not making money, neither are they.
Unless you’ve just won the audience award at Sundance or self-distributed a film that made millions of dollars, don’t expect anyone to lift a finger to help you at an agency. Remember, these people make a percentage of what you earn, and it’s a lot easier to steal someone else’s client who is already earning money then to work with a new writer or director in hopes that they might amount to something and stay loyal.
If you’d like to get a leg up on the other writers and directors out there trying to get their film made, I write a newsletter that talks just about that. If you’d like to jump on board and get that newsletter you can subscribe here or below.
Who is this site for
This site is for lovers of movies. If you’re the type of filmmaker or film lover that binges on video essays about films and filmmakers on youtube (like this great one), if you’re the type of filmmaker who takes a look at the apple trailer page on a weekly basis to see what’s coming out soon, if you’re the type of person that regularly reads everything they can about gear and making independent cinema then I think you’ll find yourself right at home on this site.
I talk about my successes in the film world, like how I got a manager the same week I graduated film school, and also some of my failures as well – like how I wasted months of my life making a spec animation pilot. I try to be as entertaining and insightful as I can with my posts to get you the most useful information possible.
- If you want to keep up with everything new in the independent film world that I come across – sign up for my newsletter.
- If you want to learn how to get representation as a writer or director, go here.
- If you’re serious about making your first feature – I recommend you read about my first feature here to see where you can save money and set yourself up for success
- If you’re interested in what some of my favorite films are, I write a little about each one every friday in my “Favorite Film Friday” series which you can read here.
25 Random Things About Me
- I have four kids and a dog. I get frustrated with the dog often because she’s really my wife’s and not mine but deep down I love her.
- I seriously thought about becoming a rabbi and am still a somewhat religious Jew (though my level of religiosity goes up and down admittedly) – here’s my take on religion in film.
- I watch 99% of movies and tv shows on my iPhone – I wrote a piece about it which you can read here.
- I don’t understand directors who still want to shoot on film. I never want to work with film ever. Had a taste in film school and think it’s like telling an artist they have to use an etch-a-sketch for their drawing. Read my rant about working with film
- My parents owned a deli growing up that I worked at on the weekends. I was too short to take orders from behind the counter so I would stand on a milk crate for hours (I’m pretty sure it was child abuse but thought it was fun at the time).
- I have three brothers – the youngest of which, Daniel, is also working in film/tv.
- I could eat watermelon everyday of my life (assuming it was ripe).
- Since buying a massage chair I don’t really see a reason to leave the house except to get some fresh air from time to time.
- I shot my first film at my own house. You can read all about my first film here
- My wife is an extra in the first scene of my first film.
- Even though I went to film school, ahttps://jondabach.com/how-i-got-my-first-feature-film-made/ll of my technical training on exposure, camera, gear, etc. came from reading about it online and picking up a dslr when I was in my late twenties. I wrote a pretty concise, useful article about everything you need to know about cameras if you’re going to get into filmmaking
- I see myself as a writer before anything else.
- I used to be a professional magician and can still do a 40 minute show with a deck of cards.
- Some of my greatest connections in the industry started from Craigslist ads I posted or answered.
- I’ve tried to quit writing and film over 12 times and have come to realize it’s an addiction that won’t leave.
- After having my third kid I went into a deep depression from a lack of sleep and had to see a therapist. I’m pretty sure I had male Postpartum (that’s a real thing)
- I develop websites as a day job when I’m not doing film stuffs.
- I love helping other filmmakers make movies.
- I don’t get people who butter their popcorn at the movies with that yellow liquid stuff that is not actually butter at all.
- I try to practice transcendental meditation but often find it hard to get 20 minutes of quiet between my kids and work (I’m trying though!)
- My favorite food is my wife’s cooking – and anyone who’s been to our house for shabbat knows why.
- I haven’t been able to sleep past 7am (usually 5:45am) since 2011 (thanks to having 4 f*cking kids)
- I don’t understand the allure of traveling the world and think that people are pretty much the same everywhere.
- I hate the way I look in photos but will always pose and often give you multiple poses because I spent so much time as a performer that it just comes out
- It was a lot harder to come up with a list of 25 random things about me than I thought it would be (originally it was going to be 40 things).