Last Friday, a few minutes before the deadline, I got my grant application package in. I passed some other filmmakers dropping their grants off. Most of these filmmakers had bigger grant packages. I felt a little under-gunned. Of course, it's not the size of your package that gets you the grant, it's how hard you ram your ideas into whoever reads it that counts.
Anyway, enough about grants. Now I start wrangling my crew. I met with my props and sets guy yesterday who is just amazing to work with. He's one of those super talented people who's done everything. This guy even charges me like a third of the actual cost. I kinda' wonder why he's working with a little independent animator like myself? Maybe he likes building the wacky crap I come up with? Or maybe he likes it when I say I'll pay him and actually do - which is a pretty rare thing with some productions.
WATCH MARC BEURTEAUX'S AWARD WINNING FILM: ROBOTA
A lot of the time when you work on small productions you get offered one of three things from the filmmaker:
2. I can't pay you now but when I do my multi-million dollar TV show you'll be on the crew (yeah, sure)
Sometimes when a filmmaker does get some money s/he gets kind of giddy and wastes it on stuff like "research trips" and high-priced food services. Then they run out of money, and you don't get paid! @#!$&!!?!
However, if you're new to the business, working for free is good for experience. As long as you're learning skills it's not a waste of time. You just have to know when to bail from a production. I think the most telling sign to leave is when you are working your ass off yet you can't pay the rent. Time to walk and find a paying gig.
Some filmmakers will just keep using free talent, one after the other, to produce their project. There's plenty of kids fresh out of school who are just stoked to be on a production - any production, doing anything. I know - that's how I started my career. It was fine until I needed money. Ultimately, I figured if I was going to be poor I might as well make my own films and at least have something to show for my suffering.
One thing a lot of filmmakers do, who don't have much money, is to barter skills. For instance, Neil Exall who did the music for my last film ROBOTA has a really cool band called The Mercurymen. So Neil does my film's music and I do a music video for his band - deal. It still doesn't pay the rent for either of us, but then if we wanted to make dough we would become defense contractors for the Armed Forces instead. No-bid contracts are cash cows.