Angelo Bell: How to conduct proper research for your indie film

Good tips from a good guy:


by Angelo Bell

The trouble with showbiz research is… everyone tosses around that word, “research” but many don’t tell you where to go to conduct that research. Too often I go to websites or read books that say stuff like this:

You must research film festivals that screen films like yours…

You must research what distributors buy you kind of film…

You must research the right acting coach…

You must research what talent agencies are hiring of looking for your type…

Well, sir/madam, the fact is, I was doing research. That’s what led me to your so-called expert website. I put in a few search words in Google and DogPile and found your link. You said you had tips. Now you’re telling me that you actually don’t have the answer. Just vague direction. Even in your blog you seem to be hoarding information from me.

Yes, I get it. There is tremendous value in discovering things for yourself. The journey of discovery often leads to other peripheral tidbits of information that will help one’s quest. But come on! You said you had real information for me, but instead you’re just sending me back into the information jungle, fending for myself against a sea of inaccurate information.

So ladies and gents reading this blog who happen to be interested in showbiz. You are in luck. I am about to share with you my “research tlinks” and books to start you on your way. During my travels many folks have come to ask me “how do I get started [writing, acting, producing,etc].” While many of them were merely trying to get an ‘in’ with me, thinking I was some high-falootin’ producer with money and power (go figure!), many were earnest in their quest for info.

SCRIPTS- Wanna find out who’s selling and buying scripts? Go to It costs $24/year for the info but it is one of the best sites for this info. Often you’ll get the names of the studio/prodco, agencies involved and of course, the writer.

FILM FESTIVALS – there is no better book (I’ve found) then Chris Gore’s “Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide.” Here you’ll learn about Tier 1 and Tier 2 festivals, festival politics, finances, etc. I kick myself in the ass for not buying this book years ago. It is truly invaluable to the filmmaker with a feature (or a short) that’s ready to be seen. Oh, and read the personal interviews with filmmakers!

TV WRITING – wanna be on the boob tube. Then check out Managed by the famously infamous Larry Brody (who wrote for the Six Million Dollar Man and The Fall Guy). The site manages three contests including a contest for a TV series proposal and MOW (Movie of the Week). The user bulletin board has tons of answers to your every question. I personally know a woman who won the contest, got an agent and now writes for TV.

AGENTS, MANAGERS & ACTORS – there is none better than IMDB Pro. This is the professional version of the fan database Cost is $100+ per year. I’ve gotten A-list actor’s agents names, their lawyers, publicists, managers, etc. By the way, the gatekeepers (agents) are harder to get through than managers. Always go to the manager first if you’re trying to attach A-list talent to your film. I’ve had their service for five years.

SCREENPLAYS – wanna write one, then you better learn how. You have to learn the rules first, before you decide what rules you can break. Second to none is the foundation of all screenplay books, Syd Field’s “Screenplay” and the introduction of the plot point. Read it. Know it. Live it. Get it on or go to my inks page, GROUPS – and are great groups to join. A membership perk is getting access to low-cost equipment rentals, networking events, free film screenings, seminars, other vital resources– and people! Find actors and crew for your film.

ACTING COACHES – If you’re in LA acting coaches are everywhere. Some better than others, of course. And the well-known ones have waiting lists. What technique works for you? Meisner? Ivana Chubbick? Stanislav? Method?

FILM REVIEWS – need a third-party review for your film? Send it to But be prepared to wait a while. However, if you send a cool little gift with your screener you might get moved to the top of the list Tip: cool and elaborate packaging does wonders!!

INDUSTRY NEWS – and ‘Nuff said

FREE PRESS RELEASES – Submit your press release to Yahoo! news, Google and tons of other outlets and local markets…for free. Or pay a small fee and go national.

ScriptPIMP – a writer’s database of people looking for scripts. $99/year

InkTip – a online screenplay warehouse that gives access to professionals looking for scripts. Upload your new script and watch the studios come to you!!

And there’s more coming in a later blog so stay tuned!