Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Out of the Woods, Why Independent Film is Powerful

Originally published on The Independent Initiative

If someone gave me the “dream job” on ten different popular movies filming in the next year, I’d turn them down. Yes, it sounds crazy, but I find what I do now is more powerful.

I work in independent film with The Initiative Production Company. We’re still a young company, having been around for just under ten years. In this time we’ve produced two feature films, a documentary and countless short films. 

So why do I think what I do is more powerful than those ten popular movies and the “dream job”?
Because independent film gives me more opportunities to help the creatives around me grow in their talents and skill.

Our most recent film, Out of the Woods, which we’ve started a crowdfunding campaign for, is rife with examples of why independent film is powerful. Not only was it a great experience for me as a first-time feature film producer, but it allowed me to give real opportunities to other aspiring filmmakers and actors.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I’ve never heard of a film company who cared more about building up the next generation of filmmakers and actors over making lots of money. 

Real opportunities

During production of Out of the Woods, we ran an internship. We gave them real responsibility by placing them within the film crew instead of just being interns.

We created a live/learn experience.

As an example, one of our interns held the sole title of Unit Production Manager. Others held titles as 3rd Assistant Director, Gaffer, Concept Artist, 1st Assistant Camera Operator and many others.

This isn’t normal for a film internship.

But as a company, we believe giving them a real job is a better learning situation than just being the coffee getter or copy printer person.

We walked alongside our interns and treated them like part of the crew. Yes, we gave pointers and guided them in one direction or the other, but as our company is called The Initiative, we also encouraged them to take initiative and ownership of their role on set.

Being a stepping stone

We also brought on film school students from local universities, placing them in roles like Sound Mixer and Wardrobe Assistant. Creating a feature film opportunity for them and giving them much needed experience of set life.

A producer friend of mine, stopped by set one day and was amazed at the professionalism we’d established on set. Especially knowing the majority of our crew were interns and film students.

As a company, this is the heart of why we do independent film.

We want our company to be a real stepping stone for aspiring filmmakers to the world of the industry. It’s our hope they’ll be able to start on the bigger sets as something more than a Production Assistant.

We believe so strongly in building the next generation of filmmakers and actors, that all the funds we receive for our films go straight back into making that film stand out. None of us in The Initiative, make money on what we do. We’d rather see our story come to life and in the process create more set life experience for young filmmakers/actors.

Out of the Woods

It may sound a bit crazy to work in a company where we don’t get paid for all the hours of extreme labour and long hours which we pour into not only the film but those we train, but it actually opens doors for us to work with more creatives in the Brisbane area.

When they discover we’re doing this for the passion of it, it ignites their passion too. It creates an environment of like-minded individuals who put their all into a project because it’s a story worth telling.

It also gives everyone the opportunity to grow in their own skills and talents.

I love working with The Initiative Production Company.

I love that our focus is to be an encouragement and aid to creatives everywhere. I love that we get to give set life experience to aspiring filmmakers and actors.

I love that we continue to support those who come through our doors, by helping them find other jobs within the local industry and more. My job may not be financially beneficial for me, but the benefits I do receive through new friendships and adventures far outweigh anything else.

I can say truthfully, I am living the dream. We’ve created an innovative, tenacious community of film professionals, and I love every second of it.

We’d appreciate your help to continue to inspire young creatives by donating towards our crowdfunding campaign, Get Us Out of the Woods.


  1. Love this post....sometimes feel so drawn to the world of filmmaking, and this makes that allure even stronger. Thanks for sharing Charis.

  2. Some great reflections, Charis. Love how you incorporated your interns into the film team. All the best with your Indiegogo campaign.

  3. Love what you do, do what you love. Sometimes remuneration comes a second to soulful enterprise as meaningful as this. Look forward to seeing the team grow bigger, with the greater goal of love. X

  4. Your short videos on Facebook promoting what you're doing are hilarious. It was really interesting to read a bit more behind the scenes of what you're doing and why. Thanks.

  5. I really value independent creations no matter what field. I truly value the want of people to share who they are and what they do with aspiring creatives - I think there is a desperate need for our society in general to really come together and support independence with empowerment. At the moment there is this continual need to create this world where many people are sucked into believing the only way is to be a robot or a sheep.

    I believe our youth need to know success is knowing who you are and what it means to value what we do.

    Many blessing, keep pursuing your dreams, it is truly valued ❤️

  6. It's inspiring to hear what goes on 'behind the scenes' - how The Initiative Production Company works, how it thrives and how you create masterful movies based on real things all the while teaching the next generation how to do it.

    I look forward to Out of the Woods and the many movies to come.