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Class Introduction

Lesson 1 from: Producing An Independent Film From The Grassroots Up

Michael Gottwald

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

Welcome to the next generation of film education the creative live film channel my name is robert malala's oh, I am the head of film and film education here creative live and we're so honored to have you here with us both in studio and at home or global user base to experience a new film journey our film journey which is hopefully your film journey today we have an expert professor with us to talk about one of the most interesting sort of white elephants of film. What is a producer and what is an indie film? Well, this is a man who took material from one stage a performance theatrical stage and ended up on an oscar stage at the academy awards. The film is the beast of the southern wild. The class is producing an indie film from the grassroots up and the instructor mr michael gottwald thing welcome. Thank you. Good to see you, man. Welcome. Um we talked a little bit about this. You know, this film was a success story in every way, shape and form are these techniques produce or really th...

at you still use in your work now or is this sort of unique to this project? No, they I think there were a lot of unique circumstances with beast, but I also think that I've learned a lot since peace and I hope to speak to what I've learned since then and that I was also using at the time that people around me were using at the time so hopefully this gives people a sense of what they can do based on beasts and everything sense excellent welcome you guys ready? Yeah. You guys ready to have a good class? All right, thank you very much first just wanted to say thank you to um brian and john who the producers of this of the class as well as rob for having me here I've never done this before but it's it's it's very exciting it's funny I think about like as a producer you never have this much power you know? I mean like you guys were like gonna listen to me for a long time and and it's hard to get people on set to listen to you for like, fifteen minutes because everything so stressful but anyway um let's get right into it. Okay? So all right, so first I'll just give you the very basics of you know who I am in the in the shortest version possible. You know, the kind of on paper stuff my name is michael gottwald I'm from I'm originally from richmond, virginia I went to wesleyan university um and then after was lynn I sort of for a couple years there mixed doing politics with doing film and then about that started in two thousand nine um I got really into film production and I've been doing that more or less on and off ever since um so yeah, that that is who I am but we'll get way more into the details here in a second um now why I produce films um I produce films because I really love movies that's that's just the long and short of it to be totally honest, I probably like movies more than I like making movies I like talking about them I like thinking about them I like um sure certainly problem solving in the making of them but I just nothing excites me more than watching a film with an audience and then talking about it afterwards what was what were the choices that went into it? What? Why was that decision made? And and you know what is trying to be achieved by it? You know, films have a way of sort of organizing the world into a you know, two hour period or less and just sort of saying this is a vision of this they not only created a whole different world, but they also articulate something with the vision of the world that they are kind of convincing to that time I've always found that very attractive and interesting um yeah just made sense to me um now uh, you know, I'm still very much at the beginning of money career I mean like I'm not that old I think this class will be would would be much more informative and ten or twenty or thirty years but that said I also think that in the last since college in the last ten years of of doing this on and off five you know what I have to say now is a lot different than what I would have said even five years ago. So although it's evolved point of view it's not a super evolved point of view and I also want to say that this is this is ah um this is just one story you know, this is everybody I can on ly bring to bear what I've been through and what films I've worked on this is not everybody's story there's no it's not a science so we can we can talk about commonalities weaken break it down by elements and everything but at the end of the day I can only talk about the experience that I've had um that's the same holds true for everybody and we just sort of find the overlap and see what works and what doesn't um that's me when I was a kid um I'm supposed to do that a while ago but that's okay um and then like as I was saying that's my movie ticket collection from back home so again this it all starts with me uh you know going to the theatre as much as I could when I was a kid and still to this day I keep a film log and last year I watched one hundred eighty three movies which is a that was a goal of mine I wanted to watch one every other day we'll get into why I think that's important and not just weirdly obsessive compulsive but but you know, it started with that and it's that's still very much a part of why I'm here and what I do um so yeah just is a kind of intro you know, beast of the southern wild this is certainly the thing that I've been involved in that's the most well known so I thought we'd kick it off with the with the trailer you novation depends on everything fitting together just rain one piece bus even smiles piece way thiss here isn't a locks fears creature you learn but weigh everything way around visible pieces way in a million years kids go to school they don't know my state was a nice smooth ok cool so we'll get into all that and more um but ah, you know so let's let's establish what we're what we're here for what this classes for what you will learn as I said you'll learn one a person's story minds unique there hopefully I'll have something useful for you guys to gleam here but at the end of the day you know, producing is a nebulous profession and there's not exactly there's more than more than other professions there's not really a straightforward kind of ladder or career path or, you know, check the boxes and you'll get there on dh so I think that's why there's a lot of mystery about it and what it is, but that will also be something that will tackle you know, I hope that you guys will learn how to solve and think about couple particular problems that have come along in producing films in my situation, which usually and why this film is why this course is called grassroots film production is that, uh, the films that I've been working on your usually operating in a vacuum of resource is and I use grassroots because it's a thing that I've learned from working in grass roots politics as well, and we'll get into all that but, you know, that's so this is all to say that these air ways of dealing with certain things and terminology that are most relevant in a certain kind of circumstance um, you know how to be another thing toe that we'll talk about is how to be, you know, value added in a films coming about, you know, in the most essential sense, like what can you do to make nothing happened, um and without necessarily having a learned skill set that directly leads you to that profession because like I said it's a nebulous one it's not one where you read a text book and then you know what you're doing it's really trial by fire I would say um now uh I'll talk about what you won't learn to, um I don't know much about hollywood or the like formal film industry that is is tied to hollywood, you know, I can't tell you about the politics of lunch, of going to lunch in los angeles with agents I don't I don't know where to find parking in century city like I just don't know why you need a manager versus an agent versus a lawyer I don't have any of those things, so I won't be that valuable as far as that I don't I can't tell you who the group is behind the golden globes and what they really dio um and I can't tell you why they keep giving matthew perry his own tv show over and over again. The movies I've worked on have only really a tangential relationship why don't see tangential but they have ah, a certain relationship to the hollywood infrastructure because sometimes in the distribution world that's that's sort of the filter through what you go, but I'd like to think that part of this grassroots idea is that in part of the way that we make movies now is that you can make them anywhere like anywhere in the country I'm I'm just a small dot in louisiana, but you know, it was really the middle of nowhere where we make it where we were making beasts and we pulled people in from all different corners of the country and I really think more than ever where you are doesn't matter nearly as much anymore the access to resource is is really I want to say easy but it's becoming easier so if you have enthusiasm and a community you can make um you could make a film, I just want to get some shut out the people who are online in our chat room now you mentioned you could be anywhere and we actually have people from around the world online so thanks everybody from tuning in we have people throughout the u s shanna's joining locally from oakland, california, with esther in austin, texas we have a huge global community as well. Mary is in costa rica. We have the global sunrise project in toronto and we have levis stone who's joining all the way from germany. So welcome to our global audience and I think this really hits home for people because we have people in all corners of the world so it's great that you touched on that right now great well that's actually a good time for me to sort of kick it to back to the people at home if you know I sort of talked about why I do this I love movies and you know, I operated in sort of a grassroots production arena in which is built on sort of like community and doing things together and I think that's a that's what makes it worthwhile with me but I'd be interested to hear from people at home why they're interested what what is why are they interested in producing what does success look like to them it's ok if success is financial material that's completely fine but it helps to know why you're doing something before you want to learn about it or start to do it so I'd love for people toe you know, just articulate a little bit of that and then I also love to hear you guys if any of you guys here can tell me why why you want why you want to do this or what's in it for you I'm sure, um my main reason is I guess, you know, people have been asking you why I do this I like to ask people want said why they're in this industry why they want to work in a lot of times they say I love it, you know, just kind of fell into it I don't know anything else um and then in my sense, I love, you know, enjoyed I jumped into it because this is all I cared about. And I guess I have something to say at the end of the day, that's what it really comes down to is I like telling stories I like listening to stories, and I just, you know, whether it's one topic for another, I have something to say about it. Maybe I'm just a talkative person, but I think it's really just about showing our own perspective on the world and finding another way to encapsulate what the world we envision or the world we helped to move beyond or something like that is very esoteric and sort of intangible, but that's that's where about now, total, that totally makes sense. Um, yeah, it's about films at the end of the day or about telling stories, so if you have something to say through a story that's, this is one way to do it, but it's it's, yeah, certainly a lot of things that you can put into a movie like I said it's sort of like you get to create your own world. So, um, I don't know if we have other people at home who have been two responses if not, I'm happy toe here from anybody else here well we do have some people who are timing in codis o says that the reason that they do this is my love for movies and storytelling expressing my creative use through film and again a lot of people who have similar ideas eric says I want to share people's unique stories I love to communicate the points of view and experiences of others and share and learn from the rich stories we also have some students who are in there as well laura says I'm taking a producing class at san francisco state so they're kind of learning and about that and found that organization and communication is helping them to tell their stories so we have people who who have similar ideas to sean but you know all over the place here it's it's great to get the perspective from the chat room great cool so moving on for a second here what's so here's what we will discuss one is ah what a producer what what is a producer um I define a producer is the person who gathers all the elements to make a film happen so there's a lot of confusion here you know there's a lot of misconceptions but at the end of the day that's that's all it is um if you are gathering anything necessary to make a film ah you are in a sense of producer that's that's the easiest response um I'll just go through before we before we I'll just uncover what we're about to cover and then we'll get into it so yes, we'll do what is a producer um, script funds in the development process, the production process and then what you do in terms of getting the word out there so basically will start within we'll start with producing in general than the inception of the of a film than actually making it and then what you do with it once you have it on good will be, you know, this this should relate to people of all different levels of experience should be relevant. Um, uh after this course, you'll know what a producer does get into that in just a second, um, how to connect with people that are right for you. I don't want to say the right people exactly, but people who are right for you, you don't want to get involved with people who there's just something not clicking, but we'll get into that. Um, you know, have a sort of tool box and I can speak tio two shared experience a ce faras like fundraising, I think that's a key part of film and certainly of grassroots home um and we'll get into that um, you'll also know howto basically with people around you start your own production, it might feel very lonely and like you know, like you're starting from scratch, but hopefully I can try to articulate to you that it's it's, I want to say it's, easier than you think, but it's more possible anything, um, and then, uh, also know your options as faras distribution distribution. That might be a miss no more these days, and I'll tell you why, but but basically let's, consider that what you can do once the film is finished, what your possibilities are there. This is, this is how did sort of taken the course. Make sure that you, uh, have digestible lessons, you know, have a piece of paper at home. Um, and, you know, watch two to four lessons per week.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 1.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 2.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 3.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Keynote Part 4.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Call Sheet - Filled Out.xls
Michael Gottwald - Sample Low Budget Documentary Excel Budget Total Budget.pdf
Michael Gottwald - Sample Low Budget Documentary Excel Budget.xls

Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

A top-notch presentation on indie film making. I learned a lot from this course which I hope to soon put into practice as I'm about to embark on my first indie film - as a screen writer for the first time out, but eventually I hope to write, direct, and produce my own film. Very easy to follow the presentations in this course, and the handouts I received when I purchased the course are quite useful.


Such a great course! Being an indie "Grassroots" filmmaker in the middle of three projects, I found what Michael shared to be very valuable. The way that he described the different aspects of producing and illustrated with examples was very clear and fresh. The course really opens you up to examine your own processes, what works / what doesn't and stirs up some new ideas on how to move forward. Thanks CreativeLive team for making the class happen!


This is a tremendous introduction to grassroots filmmaking. Michael takes you step by step through the various elements of film production and offers those so inclined a cursory understanding of what is required. Because filmmaking is a creative pursuit, the direction the individual filmmaker takes from there is entirely up to each. I would highly recommend this course to any one starting out in filmmaking. Well worth the cost. David W. King, Michigan Movie Magazine

Student Work