I’ve spent a lot of the last month working – not on my film editing, but on the job that pays the bills. It’s a necessary evil most of us independent filmmakers have to deal with, and I try to keep my consumption level low so my expenses are not too bad from month to month. That way I can live on a part time income, and spend more hours working on what’s important.
The argument can be made the other way of course. I could spend a lot more time working a really good job, and save to make my films. Instead of spending time writing proposals and looking for (mostly) government funding for my work, I could use that time pursuing an alternate career. The fact of the matter is often I would be getting the same kind of funding either way. But time to me is more valuable, even leisure time.
I’ve been very fortunate in Quebec for funding. My Cultural Divide got money for both pre production and post from CALQ, and my first professional short fiction Useless Things was funded by SODEC primarily, and then also the NFB and the CBC (who purchased a broadcast license). It also got the English award from the Writers Guild of Canada during the Cours écrire ton court! competition. I consider myself very lucky, and even more so for getting another grant from CALQ for Mr. Crab. Still, these grants pay for the films, and like any other kind of freelance work, if you don’t have a backup plan you might be setting yourself up for financial disaster.
Often, the backup plan is the credit card. Certainly the worst idea possible, but I don’t fault people too much because I have been there. I don’t believe in funding a film with a credit card, but I definitely think they can come in useful in emergencies when no work can be found. Again, yes, I’ve done it, and when I say it’s a bad thing that can take you down a dark financial path, I speak from experience. It’s something I vow never to do again.
Well, until the next time I absolutely have to make a movie I don’t have money to make, I guess.