Ways Your Independent Film Can Give Back to Your Community

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Aw, the film industry. On the rollercoaster of filmmaking emotions, it’s not uncommon to feel some degree of guilt. In those moments where everything seems to be falling apart, thoughts of “why am I even doing this?” might creep in. Especially if you’re making a film about… I don’t know, goofball idiots hosting a couple’s retreat and not making a film about, say, refugees or some other noble story. Regardless of the validity of making films purely for entertainment (in the words of Harris Whittles, “sometimes motherf*ckers just wanna laugh”), there are ways you can do some good with your film before it’s even edited.

Shop Local

During the pandemic, Amazon make bank and small businesses were hurt. Whether you strike a deal with a restaurant for discounted food in exchange for advertising, or pledge to get pizza from the local pizzeria instead of a chain, you have to feed your cast and crew. Some local companies might be interested in donating to your film outright if you feature their logo somewhere in the film.

You also have to dress your cast and your set. Depending on your budget, you might be going with “the actors will wear whatever they already own” which is totally fair. But if you have a little spending money for set dressing and wardrobe, stretch your buck and spread the love by shopping at a locally owned thrift store, or even Facebook marketplace.

Support other artists

Your film will need music. Is there a local musician who can score the film? What about your poster? If you don’t have a family member offering to do it for free, see if you can shell out some cash to hire a local graphic designer.

Offer Community Classes

I love this idea from Tom Miller. If you have a more relaxed schedule, or if most of the team is local (my cast was from all over, and my crew was as well. My DP and I returned to our hometown, but we no longer live there. The day after wrapping, I drove the 22 hours back to Texas with my husband and toddler), you might think about offering a filmmaking workshop at a community center or with a local children’s arts program.

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