After the Meredith College Documentary Film Festival, something dawned on me.

It’s actually kind of difficult to find and support indie filmmakers if you don’t have a personal relationship with them. How do you find their work? How do you support their career? You have to actually work pretty hard to do it, and I hope to make that a little easier with this post.

If you know an indie filmmaker, here are a few things you can do to support them.

1. Follow their journey

Every indie filmmaker should have an email list. (If they don’t, encourage them to make one for free using something like MailChimp.) Sign up for their email updates and pay attention when a new one comes out. Like, actually open the email and read the thing when you have a minute. For extra credit forward the email to a friend who might enjoy it.

You can also:

  • Like their page on Facebook
  • Follow them on Twitter
  • Follow them on Instagram
  • Read their blog
  • Listen to their podcast
  • Comment on literally anything they share to boost engagement, share a kind word, or encourage them to keep going

Following along means giving this person some attention and a little time. It doesn’t always cost money. Attention and time are two very valuable resources you can share.

Plus, when they get their big break you will be totally justified in saying you were a super fan long ago. You can have contests about who started following them the earliest, too. Or you can take credit for helping them grow an audience because you were a supporter early on.

2. Watch their work

When a filmmaker releases new work, ask the filmmaker where you can watch it. Then, you know, watch it. (Pretty simple stuff, eh?) If it’s available for purchase, buy the thing and say thank you for making it. If it’s online, comment or leave a review so others will know it’s worth watching.

3. Offer constructive criticism (carefully)

You’re not a film critic, right?

But you might have enjoyed the thing they made if it were ever so slightly different. Be very careful in how you offer unsolicited advice, though. Here’s my recommendation on how to do this with kindness.

You say, “Hey, friend, I really enjoyed your new film! Congrats on getting it finished and screened. May I offer you some feedback about it?”

If the filmmaker says yes, then (and only then) give them a constructive criticism sandwich. It means you wrap that feedback with really positive comments, and put the criticism in the middle.

It goes something like this, “The [thing you enjoyed] was so well done. I loved how you did [x, y, or z]. Out of curiosity, is it possible to [do x, y, or z]? I really appreciate the effort it took to make this thing. I am so proud of you.”

Look, filmmakers are kids. We develop some pretty thick skin along the way. You really need it to survive and keep making movies. So we can handle constructive criticism, ok? Just remember that your feedback may or may not be appreciated, and that’s ok!

Personally, I love getting feedback and I can totally handle constructive criticism. Bring it on. But others might not be so warm to unsolicited feedback.

4. Encourage them with kind words

The key to sharing kind words is to make sure it’s genuine. Don’t compliment something a filmmaker did unless you really enjoyed it. Don’t shower them with praise unless you think their work is worthy.

But definitely do encourage them with kind words, especially if you’re a close family member or friend. I’m constantly amazed at how little support my fellow filmmakers get from the ones they love the most. It can be devastating! (And it makes me even more thankful for my own support system.)

Trust that this person will figure things out. They will hone their craft as a storyteller, and each film will get better and better. They might not make a living off of filmmaking right now, but they could one day soon.

Love them, mk?

5. Tell your friends about it

If you really enjoyed the work, please tell your friends about it!

Go one step further, too. Don’t just talk about the film, but tell people exactly how they can watch it. Send an email with the link. Buy the DVD/Blu-Ray, and give it to them. Invite them to a screening, or ride together so it’s more fun. Spread the filmmaker’s work for them so that it can reach more people.

Photo by Zan on Unsplash

Why is this so important

The more you engaged with a filmmaker, support their work, and share it with friends, the more likely they are to make another film about a niche subject that will be interesting.

We’re in a new era of filmmaking, where we can engage directly with our audiences. This is a rare and beautiful thing! One of my favorite things is screening a film and talking with audiences afterwards.

I hope that my films make my audiences feel something, and inspire them to take action after the credits roll. I would be elated if you told others about my work!

I’m so thankful for everyone who has followed my journey this far. One day, I hope to thank you from the big stage, holding a golden statue of some kind. I will say, “This is for you. Thank you.” And you will know I’m talking about you.

Much love to you all!