Too Many Cooks: Indie Film Necessary Evil #2

Irony. You gotta love it.

While Necessary Evil #1 was all about how in independent film you tend to be doing everything yourself, Necessary Evil #2 is almost the exact opposite. And yet, both are painfully true.

Film is the most collaborative art form on Earth.

Like I said in “One Man Band”, “You aren’t truly appreciative of all 8 minutes of credits after a movie until you try to do all those jobs by yourself…and fail…” The simple fact is, you can’t do all those jobs by yourself. It is physically impossible. It is impossible to run the camera, give direction to the actors, adjust the lights, touch up make-up, fix that ripped seam in the actor’s jacket, hold the boom, answer a phone call from an angry location owner, cook lunch, and shmooze the press all at the same time. But all those jobs have to be done…all at the same time…

One of the most common words used to describe me, Benjamin Blue, is one of the great words of the English language: “curmudgeon.” According to, the word means “1. Miser; 2. a crusty, ill-tempered, and usually old man.”

Need I say more?

I hate that film is the most collaborative art form in the world. I hate that I can’t do everything myself. I hate that I have to rely on other people to execute my vision. I hate that, as an introverted stutterer, I have chosen an industry that is literally “all about networking.”

Why didn’t I go into novels?

But here’s the thing. It is the lack of different viewpoints and skill sets that creates one-dimensional, sub-par work. You chose your DP because you know that he can more effectively execute the images in your head and maybe even make them better. You brought on a second Producer so that you could focus on the art and let her deal with the angry location owner. And you chose your Costumer because the last time you tried to sew a shirt, you forgot sleeves.



You, me, we, Beardless Phil, CANNOT do this job alone. Some people love that aspect of filmmaking. I struggle with it. And while collaboration can breed great ideas and great art, too many cooks in the kitchen can ruin a fine meal. You need to find a select few people you can trust implicitly, and who will push you creatively, and try to work with them as much as you possibly can.

Otherwise, go into novels.

Mark Twain. Doing work.


This week’s lesson:
For better or worse, film is the most
collaborative artform on Earth. Deal with it.

Next week: STILL not sure. Only got one suggestion last week. Come on, guys! Help me out here!

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7 Responses to Too Many Cooks: Indie Film Necessary Evil #2

  1. Josh O'Brien says:

    Nice little post here!
    I too am a director but have to say that the biggest joy of working in film is it’s collaborative aspects. Working alongside your HOD’s, you always have your own instincts to hold you steady but you also get the input of the respected members of your team.
    As such, you’re “vision” can never be anything less than the one you have in your head but it can always, if you work well with your peers, be so, so much more.

    • I envy you. Truly.

      But I actually disagree with your statement that it can never be LESS than what is in your head. I’ve done projects where people have outright ignored my direction and thereby essentially “broke” my vision. Of course, these are people I haven’t worked with in that capacity since, but the WHO is everything in this situation.

      By the way, thanks for your support! Keep coming back. I’d be interested to hear more of your insights from across the pond.


      • Josh O'Brien says:

        Indeed, my post was more of a romanticised version of the truth in this situation. In fact, how much control you have a director is something that I’m currently battling with myself. I tend to be demanding of myself though and say, if it’s on the screen, you let it be there and didn’t fight hard enough to get it your way. You know? you let a co worker get away with that, you didn’t spot that, you didn’t jump in and change it.
        But obviously this approach is hardened, made uneconomical when you’re trying to make your days and what not. We don’t always have time to fight so passionately and strongly and perhaps persuasively for what we are trying to achieve. I’m not sure. I’m still working on it 😛
        I think having a crew that you trust and can work well with again and again is the way forward. Good luck!

      • Agreed. That balance of control and flexibility is insanely difficult, and the building of your team I think is perhaps THE most important aspect of filmmaking, not including the craft itself.

        …maybe I should do an entry on that…

  2. Angie says:

    Do you think film making will end up making you less of an introvert? I hope you’re finding great people to work with.

    • It definitely forces you to deal with it. Actually, a good friend of mine from school has practically become a different person in the past year because of filmmaking forcing her out of her shell. Awesome to see.

      I think I’ll always be the curmudgeon, but let’s face it. People wouldn’t love me as much if I wasn’t.


  3. Kelli says:

    That phone call did more for my fear of conflict than every other fight in my entire life. Still have a long way to go on that, but hey, one step at a time, right?

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