Producing Indie Films, enrollment

Producing Indie Films, enrollment

Producing Indie Films

Become the producer you’ve been looking for


Producers featured in this video: Ekwa Msangi, Neal Hemphill, Jamie Canobbio, Nabil Viñas, Dylan Rogers, Rocio Mendez, Cary Patrick Martin, Isabelle Pierre, Nazli Sarpkaya, Richard Joseph, Nadhege Ptah, Alexis Holloway, Nina Gielen, Prashant Sehgal, Pallavi Rohatgi

If opportunities don't knock,
you knock out opportunities.

YOU’RE A WRITER – one of those shy introverts who gets a rash just hearing the word “networking”.

YOU’RE A DIRECTOR – or you would be one – if only you were given a chance.

YOU’RE AN ACTOR – tired of booking “Cop 2” and deep down, although the idea abhors you, you know that you’ll have to produce your own content if you want roles that do you justice.

YOU’RE A LETHAL COMBO – and like me and most of my friends, you’re one of those creative types who does some combination of the above, depending on the day, and you think that producing is for suits, for people with money, or at least with access to people with money.

I know our tribe. We’re the creative sort. Raising money, budgets, contracts, business plans, marketing: we hear any one of those words and either our head blows up or we fall into a coma. I get it.

The bad news is that whether we like it or hate it (and most of us hate it), this day and age successful artists are those who invest in producing their own work.

YOUR TALENT IS TOO SIGNIFICANT A GIFT TO BE LEFT UP TO LUCK. I know all about waiting for that break and the fantasy of getting “discovered”. But here’s a reality check: leaving your creative career to luck is like building your financial planning around winning a lottery ticket. (Please don’t do that either.)


The good news is that if someone like me can become a powerful producer then anyone can become one. No, seriously. I spent years shopping my scripts around because I couldn’t fathom that I could learn how to produce a film.

This course is tailor-made for those creative types who need an easy-to-follow system. I lay out the work of producing low budget films in bite-size steps that can realistically be accomplished. One baby step followed by another, and you will find yourself producing that film that you wrote, directed, or performed in – or all of the above.

I can’t offer to make low-budget filmmaking easy. But I can turn it into something doable and within your reach – something that even people like you and me can pull off.

And the best part? Having to become my own producer by necessity was a blessing in disguise. Now that I know how to produce my own work, I wouldn’t want to turn it over to someone else. I do seek producing partners and I speak to the importance of that in the course – and how to go about it. But what’s clearer to me now more than ever is that the best thing for your film: is you staying at the steering wheel.

Your investment $1279


Four payments: $329/mo


Membership is free. Apply here

Course Outline

Course includes 36 video presentations and, where relevant, downloadable PDF’s with reference materials and exercises. Course includes a private Facebook group for questions and community engagement, and six community coaching calls.


  1. Things you don’t need to become a filmmaker

  2. Listening pairs: the basic exercise

  3. Intimidating words translated to plain English

pipe dream to action

  1. Identifying your next best step

  2. Pipe dream to action, Step 1

  3. Pipe dream to action, Step 2

building the package

  1. Choosing a script

  2. Casting

  3. Choosing the director

  4. Your presentation: The One-Sheet

raising money & resources

  1. Why you don’t need money to make movies

  2. The 9 most common mistakes to avoid in order to meet your fundraising goals

  3. Crowdfunding emails: best practices

  4. Crowdfunding videos: best practices

  5. How to approach people for whom $1K is not a lot of money

  6. When and how to become “non-profit”

the business plan

  1. Writing a business plan

  2. Intro to marketing & distribution

your crew

  1. Bird view of a micro-budget film set

  2. Crew motivations on low budget films

  3. How to produce if you’re directing

  4. Producing & Directing units

  5. Art department

  6. Camera, Grip & Electric departments

  7. Sound department

  8. Miniature Crews: which corners to cut

  9. The steps of post production

  10. What you need to know about contracts


film budgeting

  1. Intro to film budgeting

  2. In-depth look at an under-$100K feature

  3. How to treat everyone like they’re union

  4. Demystifying the tax incentives

  5. How to stay on budget

film scheduling

  1. Choosing your Assistant Director

  2. Script breakdown

  3. Film Scheduling: the basic principles

  4. Physical production: highlighted tools

  5. The master doc or “Production Bible”

Sample Clip

This excerpt is from a unit titled How to Approach People for Whom a Thousand Dollars is Not a Lot of Money.

Your investment $1279


Four payments: $329/mo


Membership is free. Apply here
Pallavi Black Lady award copy


Pallavi took the producing course in 2011 when I was teaching it in-person. At that point, she had produced one short film.

The following year, she wrote me to say that eight months after taking this course, she was proudly attending the premiere of her first feature film, Greater Elephant.

Seven years later? It’s 2018 and Pallavi just finished shooting her third feature. Her YouTube channel, HumaraMovie, has over 500K subscribers. Among many highlights, her comedy short The Virgins has over 12-million views. Her award-winning short, Khamkha, has over 3-million views. One of her favorite shorts, the award-winning film Pressure Cooker, which she also performs in, has had over 1M views.

This course is based on an in-person weekend workshop that I taught in New York City since 2009. Below are comments by filmmakers who had attended the workshop.

course bonuses

template contracts

Downloadable Word Documents

  • Crew Deal Memo
  • Locations Release Form
  • Talent Release Form
  • Performer / Composer Agreement
  • Synchronization & Master license

To be used as a starting point and modified to fit your particular situations and agreements

  • Finder’s Agreement
  • Producer for Hire
  • Script Optioning Agreement
  • Writer-Director for Hire

template budgets

The unit on budgets includes a sample budget of a:

  • $500 short
  • $10K short
  • $80K feature
  • $360K feature
  • $1M feature
  • $3M feature
  • $5M feature

Additionally, you’ll receive my famous, easy-to-use budget template, created in excel.

The downloadable document includes all anticipated line items and excel formulas. When you change the dollar amount in a single cell, all relevant totals are updated. No need for fancy budgeting software, just a rudimentary ability to use an excel sheet.

production docs

Created in excel for easy download and use, no special software needed:

  • Production Master Doc (Production Bible)
  • Script breakdown sheet
  • Call sheet (front & back)

six live coaching calls

As a course attendee, you’ll be invited to SIX COMPLIMENTARY community coaching calls. For support beyond that, you’ll have the option to join our monthly calls indefinitely for a subscription fee of $12/month.

accountability partners

In addition to our community coaching calls, participants will be invited to get matched up with one or two appropriate course partner/s for regular accountability and support. The course includes detailed explanations on how to use your partners effectively, and I’ll be offering additional guidance on our calls and in our Facebook group.

private facebook group

Course participants are invited to join our private Facebook group where you can ask me questions as you work through the course and for peer support.

new 2019 bonuses

the 7-week $0 films bootcamp

This optional but super invigorating bootcamp requires $0 and 1 hour of your time each week (unless you want to spend more time). Receive my prompts and create a $0 project short once a week for 7 weeks. Post your work in our Facebook group for my input; you’ll find that you’ll keep getting better each week.

the pitch lab

Use our private Facebook group to describe your short film or pilot concept in 1-2 sentences. I will personally comment to let you know if your concept warrants spending thousands of dollars on or if you should keep brainstorming. Receive peer input as well.

Your investment $1279


Four payments: $329/mo


Membership is free. Apply here


Ela Thier, 1974. Photo by Uri Thier
Ela Thier, 1974. Photo by Uri Thier
Ela Thier, 2013, set of come back hailey, photo by Uri Thier
Ela Thier, 2012. Director & Producer on the set of Come Back Hailey. Photo by Uri Thier

My name is Ela Thier and I’ve wanted to make movies all my life. I can hardly believe that that’s what I actually do. None of it came by luck, and I’ve never had much money or any industry connections. Like, none. My work was the result of decades of learning, trying, failing, giving up, trying again, giving up again, learning some more, writing crappy scripts, making embarrassingly unwatchable films, getting better with time, and eventually, step-by-step-by-step, arriving at producing, writing, directing, and acting in films that I’m absolutely in love with. You can check out my films here or look me up on IMDB. I walk the walk.

I’m still learning all the time, and I still have a long way to go in reaching my goals, but if my ultimate goal is to create films that I care about with people that I, well, care about, then this goal keeps getting met.

In 2006, kind of by accident, I began to teach screenwriters everything I was learning. In 2009, I added directing and producing workshops as well. In 2018, a couple thousand students later, I’m making my courses available online for the first time. It’ll take me a couple of years to complete this process, but I’m excited to begin this journey by offering my Producing Course.

Here’s to creating films we love with people we love.
Go us!

Refund Policy

If you’ve worked through at least one or more modules and have done at least one or more of the exercises in them, but feel that this course is not what you had hoped for, email me within 30 days of purchase and receive a full refund.


The course is delivered as a series of videos, organized into short and descriptive units so you can easily reference the specific topics that are relevant to you. Some units include downloadable PDF’s as well.
This course is definitely for you. I don’t use industry jargon without explaining it, I leave nothing a mystery, and I assume no prior experience.
Check out the detailed course outline listed above and make a judgment call. You don’t need to watch the course in order; I would welcome you to skip around to the units that are relevant to where you’re at.

I went to film school too. If you’re fortunate, you met a really great teacher. But in truth, everything I teach in this course is something I picked up since film school. This course is the real-life stuff that you’ll need when the rubber hits the road.

The units vary, but they average roughly 45min each. I’m afraid the course is available only as a whole.

I tell writers to think like producers before ever starting on a script, so that you write things you can actually make. If you learn to think like a producer before you write, you’ll create scripts that will lead to funding and distribution, and that you can realistically create with the resources that you have.

If you can’t afford the course, then I don’t think you should enroll. However, if you plan to spend more than $1K making a film, then I say with confidence that this course is likely to help you avoid making mistakes that might cost you thousands or more. The course will also guide you in how to successfully raise the money you need to create your films, whatever your budget is. Then there’s bringing your talents out of the dusty closet and into the world – that part can’t be measured in dollars.

As a micro-budget producer who’s had to make pennies stretch far, I know all about putting every last dollar on the screen and nowhere else. I speak with integrity when I say that the price of this course is a fraction of its true worth.

Some of you might be familiar with the “Masterclasses” available online, where all sorts of celebrities talk about filmmaking and related topics. I’ve signed up for a one-year membership myself and I’m sure will find some of it useful. But here’s the thing: celebrities can offer a slew of tips and such, some of which might be useful. But they’re not offering a complete system that takes you from A to Z.

Jodie Foster (I’m a big fan!) is not going to teach you how to approach friends, family and colleagues to raise $6K so you can produce your calling card short or pilot. It’s not something she’s ever had to do. Martin Scorsese is not gong to talk about what you need to do to get your skills up to speed, before spending $6K, so you’re not spending a few thousand bucks on what will look like a home video. David Lynch is not going to tell you how to turn $80K into a distributable feature film or a first season that will look like a million bucks. These folks have never had to do any of those things.

Getting a slew of tips from sparkly celebrities who’ve worked within the studio system has its usefulness, but mostly it’s a more robust version of the “bonus features” you get after watching a movie, where a director will speak about the process. It’s not comparable to receiving a step-by-step system and guidance from someone who’s been in the trenches and knows, from having done it time and time again, how to turn sticks and rocks into an epic film, without waiting for a studio or a name producer to “greenlight” our creativity. This course will turn you into the person who decides which of your projects gets a greenlight.D

Your investment $1279


Four payments: $329/mo


Membership is free. Apply here

I know that ten years from now I’ll look back and see this workshop as the turning point.

If I had spent 5 times more, the money would still be worth all the knowledge and resources that I received.

Even with so much information covered, it never felt overwhelming.

Worth ten times the money I paid.

Not only do you teach but you empower, a much rarer thing.

Without Ela and her workshops, I would not be making movies.

I thank you for getting me back into the world of filmmaking. I thought of giving it up after working on films for the past fifteen years, never thinking it’s going to go anywhere. After taking your workshop I feel confident again. Thank you Ela!

Like ten workshops rolled into one.

Everything is spelled out in an organized manner so that I’ll be able to easily go back and reference any of the information at any point.

A very organized overview of what it takes to produce a film, delivered in an accessible way …It demystified a lot of the complexities …that I encountered in other forums and books.