The Black Dahlia
Ramzi Abed’s Black Dahlia.

Get to know your cast and crew very well, and open yourself up to the ideas and talent they bring to the table. More importantly, work with people who are like-minded and can understand how you think, or at least how you see and hear your vision.

Stay humble, and don’t quit your day job. In the world of truly independent film, the most important thing is to stay grounded and never think you’ve made it, because chances are you haven’t. Also, it doesn’t hurt to be working for a living.

Watch tons of movies, but don’t just limit yourself to film, and especially not just American movies. There’s a whole world of influences out there as seen here, and from going to art shows and galleries to reading slews of fiction, ideas and style come from the strangest sources. Fill yourself with art. You can’t get enough of that funky stuff.

Don’t be so logical when it comes to your creative process. Be open to change, but at the same time, go with your gut feeling. You’d be surprised how much more accurate your intuition is compared to your common sense when it comes to the damage control world of low-budget moviemaking.

Don’t wait for someone to greenlight your project and don’t think that films have to be made at only one budget level. Ambitious filmmaking has to have craftsmanship and audacity. If someone finances your film, great. But favors, paychecks and clever editing can often a good movie make.