What I’ve Learned as an Indie Producer

by Bri Castellini

Now that I have two complete seasons of Brains online, a short film about to be sent off to festivals, two spin offs of Brains (that I wrote/ co-wrote and helped produce), and my friend Chris’s web series Relativity (that I produced, among other things), I feel confident in calling myself an “indie filmmaker/producer.” As such, I thought I would impart some things I’ve learned in reaching this new level of broke artist, both tangible and intangible.

    1. If you can do it yourself, do it, but also sometimes it’s ok to delegate.
    2. Only delegate after having more than one conversation with someone about what said delegation entails. You cannot expect someone you’ve just met to do things the way you want them to, because you just met them and how are they supposed to know all of your insane rules??
    3. Good audio is worth taking time on/throwing money at
    4. Good audio is the hardest thing to attain with no time or money, but it is more important than almost anything else
    5. Ask for help, even when you don’t think you need it
    6. Be prepared to do everything yourself, but try not to
    7. Always have food available
      1. Bonus lesson: people really like fruit snacks
    8. Write within your means, but remember that your means can expand the more people you meet
    9. Latch on to talented people, continuously thank them for their help, and praise them incessantly so they’ll be inclined to help out again in the future
    10. Be nice to everyone. Not only should you do this anyways because common decency, but also because the indie film world is small AF and you can’t afford to burn bridges
    11. Don’t start production before you’re ready- a healthy and thorough pre production process will make everything better and smoother at every step.
    12. Sometimes you’re going to have to start production before you’re ready.
    13. Communication is more important than anything, even audio.
    14. Don’t fight on set.
    15. Fight after set, then make an effort to fix the problem. It’s not about winning, it’s about effectively solving issues and finishing the project.
    16. Press releases are super important. They are also a bitch to write.
    17. Reaching out to press is super important too, and it’s the most awkward thing in the world.
    18. Create a project-specific, production company-specific, or otherwise seemingly third party email address with which to reach out to press with. This way you don’t have to send emails like “Hi my name is Bri Castellini- please write about me and my show. I am amazing and you should promote me”
    19. Learn to say “ok- how?” instead of “we can’t do that/that won’t work.” I’m bad at this but I’m working on it.
    20. Schedule people as far in advance as possible, then periodically remind them about it.
    21. Have a plan B for everything, from locations to cast/crew. As Kate Hackett once told me on Twitter, “anyone can be written out.”
    22. Don’t tell people you didn’t sleep before coming to set until after you wrap for the day.
    23. Learn how to do your makeup so it doesn’t look like you didn’t sleep before coming to set.
    24. Love what you do
    25. Only say yes to things you actually want to do/make
    26. Fake it ’til you make it, because no one actually knows what they’re doing so you may as well throw your hat into the ring.

Bri Castellini is an award-winning filmmaker as well as the Community Liaison at Stareable, a hub for web series. Check out her award winning web series, Brains, and the rest of her stats on IMDB.

This article was first published on her very informative blog.