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Customer Stories

How 5 indie filmmakers stay focused, creative, and current


Published on March 09, 2023

From assembling a cast and crew to navigating the complexities of production, bringing a film to life often boils down to brass tacks. This is especially true for indie filmmakers tasked with turning tight budgets and limited time into movie magic. For them, finding small ways to grease those moving parts can make their whole process flow better together. We asked five such creators, all high off the release of their projects at Sundance 2023, about the tried-and-true ways they resolve creative challenges, manage production workflows, and leverage digital tools to bring their work across the finish line. It’s advice any creative can heed.

Form a community around your work

“When I'm creatively stuck, it helps to step away from whatever I'm working on. For me, that usually means going to see other people's movies or talking to others about the things they're working on. So much of it is swirling in your head, and you need to talk to other people who can give you some advice about the things you're stuck on. Just hearing what other people are doing and the strategies they use is really helpful. It's nice to see other folks' creative processes. The pandemic taught me a lot about the importance of forming a community around your work, especially in the early stages of developing a project.”

—Crystal Kayiza, writer and director, Rest Stop

Have a central source of content

“[Our film] is a heavily archival project, which comes with a lot of risk. It's important to track the source material and know where things are from to make sure that someone isn't just pulling something from online and throwing it into a cut. That's why we rely on systems like Dropbox to archive everything, catalog it, and keep records of the source of the material. When you have people working on a project from Los Angeles and New York, we rely [on a] central focal point to share all the archival material, logs, and clearances.” 

Mark DiCristofaro, co-producer, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields

Rethink how things are traditionally done

“[The pandemic] was really the moment where the film industry looked in the mirror and said, ‘Does this really need to be printed?’ Being able to transition a workflow over to everything being digital is a staggering improvement in efficiency from a production perspective. Most PDFs are not organized for signature. They always break. It's always a mess. With the ability to be able to go into something like Dropbox Sign and be able to select your fields—make something a requirement, some of them not, customize however you want—you can then just say ‘Click this link.’ It's so crazy the hoops we jumped through because we had this idea that it had to be physical and it just really didn't.”

Jordan Drake, producer, Power Signal

Organization will save you every time

"Over the years, with every project, I become increasingly particular about organization. When projects extend for months and even years, if you don't have everything organized from the outset, it's just going to be a nightmare and a headache later. You need an archive, a logging system, and a labeling system. You need a spreadsheet where you know exactly where it came from, who the source was, who has the rights, and all of the information.”

Sara Newens, editor, Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields

Pull from the human experience

“Tap into the zeitgeist. It's important that you're connected to what's happening with current events—where we are as a society and humanity—because those are the stories we want to tell. Those are the stories we want to hear. That's how we progress the human experience—by putting a lens on the way we live and what the world is like around us. We are the liaisons to culture, to meaning, to progress, because we're the ones documenting it.“

Sterling Hampton, writer, director, producer, and editor, Kylie