#1 04-28-2016 2:58 am

Sam R
Registered: 02-28-2013
Posts: 2

What does it REALLY take to make a short indie film?

Nowadays there are plenty of websites, books, and other resources that will teach you how to make a short animated film, but while they may go into the crafting part of making the film, none of them really go into the more technical parts of producing a film, like making a budget or finding an office to work in. Since there seems to be a rather seasoned amount of animators here, I thought I'd ask here. This is probably going to be quite a long post, but I want to make sure I 'm thorough so here goes.

I'd like to base this on the hypothetical idea that you would already have a story, animatic, and maybe even a few friends to help already. The kind of film in question would probably be 15-30 minutes, and would be in 2d with maybe some 3d assets.


How do you get staff?
What's the best way to find other animators around you to work with? Would something like Craigslist, Facebook, or even just forums like these work? Also what would be best for finding animators in your area (especially if the animation community around you is small)? How do you decide how many people to hire in the first place, and how many people to have on each task ( how many people on character animation, how many working on backgrounds, how many people compositing, etc.)? Also how much should you pay these people for there services? I heard most freelancers get 25$/hour. Is this accurate?


What's the best thing to do for equipment?
One great thing for artists today is that there are plenty of free, open-source programs like Krita and Blender to replace things like Maya and Photoshop,  but what about equipment? Of course there are things like Yiynova and Bosto Kingtee, but what about monitors and the proper desktops? How much should you splurge on getting this stuff for your team?



What about space?
I'd imagine if you wanted to get a team together to make a film, you'd have to find a place for everyone to come together and work. However, do you need to get a traditional office to work in? Wouldn't having to pay rent and deal with leases cut into your budget? Are there any alternatives anyone can think of? Whats the best office space some of you have worked in? What's the worse? Any anecdotes would be interesting!


What about budget?
Sure you can go on Kickstarter and Indiegogo and ask for money, but how do you determine how much you need? How do you split the costs? How do you factor animation quality and time management into this?


What happens after the film is done?
So once everything is done what happens next? What happens to all the equipment, and the artists and the office space? Would this be the time to take the film to a few festivals? And what is the benefit of taking your films to festivals? Is it just for the exposure, or is there some other benefit? Why not just plop it online?


If these questions weren't any indicator, I am INCREDIBLY green when it comes to the production of independent films. It would probably be another decade or so before I had the experience to attempt a project this big, but I'm still interested in seeing how its done. Having something to strive for is important. If anyone out there is willing to humor me and give me some advice, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks, and I await your responses!

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#2 04-30-2016 5:00 pm

wendybirdx
Registered: 04-30-2016
Posts: 6

Re: What does it REALLY take to make a short indie film?

Hi there! I don't know if I can be of too much help since I haven't completed any projects yet, but as someone who wants to complete an upcoming short film, I think I can at least pass on the advice I've been given so far.

How do you get staff?

Usually forums are the best source since you're going to find people that are specifically in the animation area (after all, animators are the ones who are going to look for content and feedback and these sorts of communities). While you can definitely branch out to general social media, the range it a bit too wide unless you find a specific group or page for recruitment. But as most forums tend to have a recruitment section, they're probably your best bet! However, forums tend to also be a place for beginners looking for projects to work on, so if you want to hire professionals, you can just look up "freelance animators" and there's many sites that collect contact information and have systems to display portfolios so you can "browse", in a sense.
The minimum hourly wage for animators is about $40. While you can probably find people who will do it for less, you do encounter a slight moral issue. A lot of animators will also want to be paid per second of animation created, and this will vary depending on the content. This may be a good reference in terms of numbers: http://work.chron.com/freelance-animato … -2698.html
In terms of how many people, it's going to depend on how long you want production to take and your current budget. This is something you could discuss with your first hire, as well. They should have an estimate of how much they can produce within a certain time frame, so you can ask how much help they would need to meet your deadlines.

What's the best thing to do for equipent?

You have a couple of options. You can either ask for artists that already have the programs you need or you can invest in packages that these companies tend to offer for work groups. The price is obviously going to depend on what programs you'll be using. It's not advised to use different programs within the same team because the members will often need to share files. While you can find a conversion system, it's definitely a risk to take in terms of losing data or being unable to work because of something as stupid as non-compatibility between programs.

What about space?

I see a lot of independent projects (especially in the creative area where you're dealing with digital files) just working online. Freelancers are usually accustomed to working through Trello or Glip from various places in the world. Unless you have a substancial budget to hire locals and to rent out a space, I don't think it's worth the investment. Google Hangouts are also commonly used amongst these kinds of teams.

What about budget?

That's really going to depend on you. Some people will try to come up with as much content as possible and then do a Kickstarter to hire a team. Others will try, at the risk of losing team members out of lack of interest and having no basis to oblige them to return, to start with a team of people who are willing to work for free and invest only in one or two things (like hiring a composer) later on. Determining how much you need, again, is dependent on how long you want the production to last and how many people you're going to hire. Unfortunately, I can't go into the details in this short post, but if you look up things like "budget animation project" you can get much more specific tips. Animation quality will usually depend on the quality of the animators you hire, as well as time management, and this is definitely something you can discuss with the people you want to hire. Seeing their portfolio and asking for estimates on how long a certain type of project would take, etc.

What happens after the film is done?

Looking ahead quite a bit there! Haha. The equipment will depend on wether you bought a company package or just asked for artists that already have the programs you need. If you did the former, this is going to depend on the company's system (is it subscription based? per month? per three years? you'll just have to see how they do it). The artists should probably just be thanked and will probably move on to other freelance projects. In terms of the space, if you rented one, you can probably just cancel that (it's going to depend on the contract you made). It's a good idea to submit your film to festivals, and the benefit is exposition, networking, getting feedback, etc. After all, if you made a film, you want to share it, right? Also, if you do get rewards and such, you have a good basis to hire new animators or even make pitches to animation companies. If you just plop it online, you risk just having it be lost amongst the thousands of other films and other content online.

Unfortunately, the more I study, the more I realize I know very little about these things haha but I hope some of these can help you have a notion of how things are made! Keep in mind I'm no expert, though, so this is one gal's opinion based on very little knowledge here and there.

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#3 05-04-2016 2:56 am

Sam R
Registered: 02-28-2013
Posts: 2

Re: What does it REALLY take to make a short indie film?

Thank you so much for the info! I'll be sure to take this to heart.

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#4 06-07-2016 1:31 pm

Entertainmentnews
Registered: 06-07-2016
Posts: 1

Re: What does it REALLY take to make a short indie film?

Thanks for your Information. A small Information From My side. Yupptv Bazaar is the on of the best Platform to Promote your short Films.

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#5 07-14-2016 9:35 pm

ghostwulf
From: Florida
Registered: 07-14-2016
Posts: 26

Re: What does it REALLY take to make a short indie film?

@SamR, This is one heck of a question, and honestly I've been grappling with the same things. I'm an electrical engineer turned producer due to some really great friends and a great idea. However, I'm in way over my head.

I've recently decided to start a blog about it on the studio site, since I'm now running a studio. I haven't posted yet, but I do intend to tackle all of those questions and more as I progress. The first post will be tonight and will be about the first steps in making your own film. I'd definitely love feedback and questions, I want it to be an audience participation thing so I can learn from them and they can learn from me.

Anyway, I unfortunately don't have much time to post right now, so I'll come back and give a quick gloss over of all of your questions later.

If you decide you want to take a look at my longer reply/blog, it'll be posted at http://www.gooddogstudios.net/tips-and- … endeavors/ sometime tonight.

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#6 07-16-2016 3:52 pm

ghostwulf
From: Florida
Registered: 07-14-2016
Posts: 26

Re: What does it REALLY take to make a short indie film?

Finally had time to sit down and write again. I've been dying to get back to your questions.

How do you get staff?
-------------------------
This depends on how much money you're willing to throw down. In my case, none of us could draw and none of our artist friends were reliable, so I started looking to other avenues. I skipped over asking people to do it for free because you need to be seriously invested in a project to work for free. It's unfair to think "exposure" or anything is worth anything unless you're someone famous. I originally put a message on Craigslist, but then I realized that was stupid. The people looking at Craigslist are probably not professionals, and they're definitely not good enough to have an animation job. If they are, something is probably wrong with them. So then I put on my businessman hat and went about it like it was a business -- and it is. I ended up hiring two wonderful women from the Philippines. This allowed me to two main advantages to hiring locally. 1. I could save money (and I didn't have a lot to begin with) for good talent.  2. I could help improve their lives due to exchange rate differences. I paid the girls I hired (which both had little experience but amazing ability) as if they were mid-level engineers in their own country. If I get my project fully funded and on tv, those girls will earn American wages -- and I'll probably have to hire bodyguards for them.

Task loading and number of staff is depending upon your timeline, your people's work ability, their working hours, and how much money you have. One of my animators does backgrounds and coloring, the other does everything else.

You pay them competitively for where they live. That's the only fair way to do it. If you can afford to be more generous and they deserve it, you be more generous. These people are getting their livelihood from you, you are now partly responsible for their well-being.

Freelancers ask for whatever they think they're worth. Consider experience, ability, and fit, and then put a price on that, and that's what you offer them. You're completely in control of what you pay, and people are free to walk away.

Best thing to do for equipment?
------------------------------------
I'm a fan of buying what you need if you can't find a good opensource version.

It's unfair to expect your staff to furnish your business. That being said, a lot of animators have tools they prefer and already own. My animators both use toonboom and already own professional copies, so I let them use it. Otherwise I would have bought it for them.

If you're hiring a contractor, not staff, the contractor needs to provide his own computer and ability to interact with your team.

What about space?
---------------------
I do not have a main office. My animators live half way around the world and my co-owners/writers live local. We occasionally meet at a pub, but generally meet at my house to discuss things. We also meet every Tuesday on skype.

What about budget?
-----------------------
Budget is tricky. First you determine the number of people you need to get the job done in the time you want it done. Then you add the cost of equipment and software. Then you add the cost of space rental. Then you add the cost of disposable materials. Now you look up the average cost of mid-level workers in the area the workers come from. Now double the amount of time you wrote down first. Multiply that by the cost of the average mid-level worker. Multiply that by the number of workers. Add 20% to that. Add the other costs you wrote down.  Now look to your favorite deity and pray that everything will work out in that time period with no major problems.

Quality and time management and splitting costs does not factor into this at all. Quality comes from your artists, they can produce art at their quality within a certain amount of time. Generally you can say "hey, how long will it take you to ___" and then add 20% time to that and you'll be about right. Time management is entirely on you, Mr. Producer. You need to schedule things realistically and work realistically. Splitting costs only comes in if you have investors. Though, honestly, investors give you money and take ownership in your production. There's really no splitting cost.

What happens when it's done ?
-----------------------------------
You dance. You hug everyone that worked on it. You tell them how great they are. You cry. You go to bed. The next morning you panic.

See, now you've got a whole studio and no production to work on. If you were a good producer, the entire time you were working on the project you'd be building a following for it. You'd focus most of your time on selling and networking and generally annoying people with money in hopes they'd buy. You'd also be talking to distribution hubs, and trying to make deals to get yourself in a theater or on DVD. If everything failed, you'd fall back on the fans and early evangelists that were in the community you made by starting a kickstarter to get funding. Not that you'd do that AFTER you finish, but while in production. You'd know midway through if you were going to be able to distribute your film. You'd probably also take shorts to film festivals and conventions. You could just stick the whole thing online but you have no real method for monetizing it if you do. Hoping for ad revenue is scary, when you realize 2 million views will only net like 2000 bucks.

So, that being said, welcome to business. You've got a lot of catching up to do to be the CEO of a studio.... but don't worry, I'm sure there'll be people around to help you learn what you need to know.

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