The question that starts almost every script session I have with a student filmmaker?
What's the point?
The reason I ask this question is because the answer often reveals to that student (without me having to say much more) where the script has gone astray.
A clear concise statement of your vision gives the film a focus.
For example, scenes that don't relate to your point may be unnecessary.
What's your point?
Why do you want to make this movie?
What's you big idea?
These questions all get at a fundamental question that is especially important to microbudget filmmakers.
Director Mike Figgis tells indie filmmakers that they can work with more freedom than is customary on a traditional Hollywood film. But even when improvising you need to know your POINT. Figgis tells microbudget filmmakers: “It’s a big mistake to overload the expectation of the film in advance by writing a script that is inflexible...On the other hand, if you concentrate on what is the POINT of the film - and if the script has a certain amount of tolerance built into it...”
The ability to incorporate the happy accidents that happen on set into your film depends on a clear understanding of what your film is about.
Another version of this same idea (which also applies to big budget filmmakers) can be found in a September 5th, 2012 blogpost by award-winning producer Ted Hope.
Ted Hope asked: "What makes a movie important to make? And important to make right now? What are the factors that require us to make it now? What should we ask ourselves, before pushing blindly ahead yet again? It’s important to make a film when it is truly most important to us — sounds logical enough, but I think we forget that when we are engaged in the process."
Ted Hope's blogpost goes on to list 15 good reasons for making a film. And they're all valid.
As Ted Hope and Mike Figgis know, if you don't have the passion - in this tough marketplace for indie films - perhaps it's better not to make that film.
You need to know - and really care about - your point.