CEO of Independent Production Co. & Director of Film Festival. Feel free to ask me anything about acting, producing or Indie Film

Monica Quinn
Mar 30, 2018

My name is Monica Quinn. I am the CEO of Chrysalis Pictures and Director of The Moving Parts Film Festival. I am also a professional SAG/AFTRA Actress and Producer. Feel free to ask me anything about acting, producing or Indie Film. I have a B.A in Theater from UCLA School of Theater, Film, & Television as well as an M.S in Nonprofit Management. 

What is the Vibe of this AMA? What is AMA Vibe?

This AMA has finished, no more comments and questions can be posted and votes submitted to those. Check other similar AMAs here or host your own AMA!

Conversation (82)

In three easy steps and under a minute you could be hosting your own AMA. Join our passionate community of AMA hosts and schedule your own AMA today.

Let's get started!

From a programming and operations, what goes into selecting an Opening and Closing Night film for the festival?
Apr 6, 5:02PM EDT0
What inspired you into getting into a career of acting and production?
Apr 6, 1:11AM EDT0

Just curious, do you write, too? I write, but I can't act. It fascinates me that those aspects don't always cross over.

Apr 4, 5:43PM EDT0
After many years of acting, do you feel nervous at all?
Apr 4, 2:25PM EDT0
What is the biggest challenge about being a CEO of a company?
Apr 4, 10:30AM EDT0
How do you think the independent film industry will evolve in the world?
Apr 3, 4:37AM EDT0
What does the future hold for you personally? What are your long-term goals?
Apr 2, 6:09PM EDT0
What were your favorite movies growing up?
Apr 2, 3:46PM EDT0
What expenses usually surprise first-time producers the most?
Apr 2, 9:53AM EDT0
What do you think is the best ways to trim a budget with the least effect on the overall quality of the production?
Apr 1, 9:40PM EDT1

Stay connected with me: 

Last edited @ Apr 1, 3:09PM EDT.
Mar 31, 4:18PM EDT0
What are the biggest problems in the indie film community today?
Mar 31, 12:53PM EDT0

1) Not being sustainable: An an indie filmmaker you wear many hats. If you aren't young and being supported, or you arent independently wealthy you are also having to balance a survival job and do indie film. Indie filmmakers need to think about how to restructure their "business" partices if they are going to make this a sustainable artform. 

2) Marketing/ Distribution: Usually filmmakers have to take care of the entire production bottom to top. This includes all of the promotion and marketing. Most filmmakers know nothing about how to do this. They must learn this new skill along the way, and retain their knowledge from project to project trying to build  a career on the momentum of each film. If it's not successful you still have your work to show, but it can feel like an uphill battle of a hobby. VOD might be a better option for Indie Filmmakers rather than a theatrical release becuase then it doesn't have cost associated with it. If it sells it can be profitable if your marketing is on point and people have an interest.

3) Filmmakers not knowing their worth. So much content goes on VOD for FREE! WHY??? I don't understand! We are basically doing all this work, as producers we put money in, pay everyone else without paying ourselves, and then when it comes time for our payback we say "Well... I just want people to see it". So we put it on VOD and then say its FREE. WHAT?! This is ludicrous! Its crazy town! Charge for your content! PLEASE! I want to see something worth value and if you dont charge me I'm not gonna care. 


Apr 1, 2:57PM EDT0
What is social capital and is it necessary to make a film?
Mar 31, 11:59AM EDT0

I'll tell you what... it doesn't hurt! That's for sure. 

As a filmmaker you have to have a community. You have to get involved in this business. It will only help you. If its not your film you are working on, but you say yes to another collaborator; that can only help you. So when you need help, or gotta call on a favor you are supported. Your reputation is everything. Your support, generosity, attitude, energy will all come into account. 

Social Capital came in really big for me when I was crowd funding with a team of collaborators. Because we had such a large community our campaign was a huge success. We went $10,000 above what we asked for initially. Yes hard work and persistence were involved, but we had community support. 

Also, this is why as a content creator I am always trying to find new ways to increase my circle, my reach, my community. It's not just about me. It's about bringing up others with you as you come up. 

"If your dream is only about you, it's too small" ~ Ava DuVernay

So many people walk around this industry or "Hollywood" and they think its all about them, their project, their success. Meanwhile they are completely missing the bigger picture. It is all of our duties to leave the stories, identites, and zeitgeist of our time for future generations. So we all progress, so we don't remake mistakes; but we grow and learn from each other. 

Mar 31, 4:30PM EDT0
Is it harder to get started or to keep going as an actor and what was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?
Mar 31, 9:14AM EDT0

I think acting is a life time journey. You are never to old to start or continue. If the desire to act is in your heart... listen to it. 

Acting is something I have been doing pretty consistently since I was a child in the form of theater. I have grown with my career, as I am sure I will keep growing. 

I also think as we grow as people, and with life situations our career changes. We start wanting different things, maybe your looks change and you are no longer a leading lady or man, but now you're a character actor. Maybe you go for a long time without booking a job? Is your career over? No of course not. It just looks different. Maybe at that time you are writing a feature film, that you later produce, and that reignites your acting career because the film won awards, perhaps that leads to more auditions, perhaps that leads to bookings, then you went from almost giving up to being wildly successful. 

We are not what we do. What we do is a little part of our human experience, and of our journey in this life. If you wanna act... go for it no matter what. Don't let the bastards get you down! 

To be real with you to START acting you gotta have your materials in place. In order to do this I would recommend to you reading "Self Management for Actors" by Bonnie Gillespie 

If you are already established and want to keep going please take stock in your mindset, your emotional, and your spiritual self. Becuase, although we LOVE acting... You are the most important person in this equation. Your JOY is the most important thing. Sometimes taking breaks, enjoying the moment, friends, family, love is what you need to then start again. Know that is okay. Maybe look into a daily meditation practice, or check out Think Bigger Coaching with DaJuan Johnson to work on that mindset. 

Apr 1, 2:26PM EDT0
Is it easier to make an indie film than a big-budget film and why?
Mar 31, 1:24AM EDT0

I have never worked on a big budget film. I would love the opportunity. I have worked in television though with an enormous budget, and there were people everywhere doing eveything imaginable! Things you cannot afford on an indie film set. 

That being said on Big Budget films you can just show up and do your job and go. You're not in charge of every aspect of the film like with Indie Filmmaking. BUT, also on big budget you better be good at what you do cause you have to answer to the studio, the bosses, the executives, the producers, they are all in it to make money so if your big-budget film crashes and burns you might have some people to pay back, and you'll for sure have people to answer to. 

The Indie Film is ususally dependent on the filmmaker and hopefully their team taking on all aspects of production. From Concept to Manifestation to Distribution. You follow a project through every step of the process. Which is an amazing process and gives such a sense of gratification when you see your film complete and on the screen. 

Apr 1, 3:08PM EDT0
Why do you think so many indie films fail?
Mar 30, 6:48PM EDT0

Cause its hard. 

It takes determination, endurance, and tenacity to keep doing this work. Filmmakers need to stay hungry and motivated. The truth of the matter is No one cares as much as you do! No one. 

Even if you have given an actor with no credits the leading role, and this is a big deal for his career... it doesn't matter. That guy will NEVER care as much as you do. 

People have a short attention span. They can care about something for a little while but it fades. They will forget. And when something no longer serves them they move on. 

I think filmmakers get tired. I think its a long and hard process to be an indie filmmaker. If the money is there it makes things easier and faster. But, if money is not there its makes the process is much longer, much more grueling, and potentially the quality of the film suffers. 

I am curating A LOT of films right now for my film festival. There is a lot of great content, and a lot of not so great content. You can see VERY clearly what works and what doesn't. It's a great education. You can also tell who had resources, and who didn't. It's so hard to let filmmakers know what they aren't being accepted into the festival. Its heartbreaking. Sometimes they take it very personnally. 

But it isn't at all personal. It is what it is. It is very competitive. There is a lot of good work. So, what that means is Indie Filmmakers need to keep learning, growing, accessing information, research winning films, go to movies, absorb all they can so they can turn around with the energy, vitality, inspiration, and the knowledge to keep creating. 

If filmmakers are functioning on that level their content will get better, their work will have better results, they will be acknowledged, and their films won't fail. 

Mar 31, 4:44PM EDT0
What are the ways a filmmaker can establish trust and confidence within the industry?
Mar 30, 9:45AM EDT0

Hey Clement, 

Great question. I think you need to make good work. Have a great attitude. Be generous. Use manners. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want. If people don't give you want you want be tenacious and do it yourself. Be organized and on your A game. Nothing screams amature more than tardiness and being ill-prepared. 

Have your goals for what YOU want to do in  the film industry. I am assumming you work in indie film. Accomplish those goals little by little. Help others along the way. Get the credit you deserve. Through Festival laurels, reviews, sales, fan/ followers, etc. Build your way up and bring others with you. Above all, make good work. The work speaks for itself. 

The rest will come. 

Mar 30, 12:51PM EDT0
What mechanisms should be in place so that film funding is used in the most economical way?
Mar 30, 4:04AM EDT0

Well before you do anything. Before you receive monies or spend any put your budget in place. 

When you have a budget you know what money needs to be alloted to each department. You know what you are able to spend. As a producer always strive to go UNDER the budget you have. Find ways to save money, and then if need be reallot the unused monies to another part of production. 

I would say the most money I have saved on set through Chrysalis Productions was buying a permit through the city of Glendale. It was quoted as $2500 for the three days we were at that location. Because, we are a nonprofit 501c3 we were able to get a discounted rate for the same permit. That rate was $120 

so all of a sudden we had a surplus of $2,380 which we folded into post production costs. 

I am not recommending you become a 501c3. The standard is usually LLC but I would recommend becoming Fiscally Sponsored by a Nonprofit that had that service available. Especially if you are doing one project, or working with new people, or aren't sure what direction you want to take. 

Last edited @ Mar 30, 4:47PM EDT.
Mar 30, 1:05PM EDT0
What should a person do if they have become jaded by the industry and how can one maintain a sense of wonder and love when producing a film?
Mar 29, 6:56PM EDT0

I think if anyone becomes jaded by anything they should take a minute to take care of themselves, their heart, and their spirit. Perhaps, taking a break and remebering why they fell in love with the entertainment industry in the first place. I don't believe in continuing to be a part of something that takes away my joy. I also think producing your own content can help one remember their own ideas and creativity. Perhaps, finding a good group to collaborate with for the love of making film will help one who has become jaded to find joy in their process agin. I think when one is producing they create the tone on set. Directors yes of course have a hand in this as well, but a producer facilitates the environment. They prepare all parties to start the day on the right foot. I think as a producer one is able to create the tone for the shoot, and collaborate with the people they want to work with. The people who bring energy and enthusiasm to a set. Producing is a great position  to be in. You're the decision maker. But know that they decisions you make reflect on you. If you have a bad seed on set... well guess what? That's also the producers fault. I would say more than anything if someone does become jaded they should get right first in their own head and heart. Then when the joy comes back; figure out what you want to say, and how you want to say it. Make the best environment possible for everyone involved, love it, own it, and have fun. And Breathe! No matter how hard things can be on set... it will all come to an end. Then you have memories. 

Mar 30, 1:05AM EDT0
What are Independent Films and why use the term 'independent'?
Mar 29, 6:50PM EDT0

I'm not getting this from wikapedia but just giving my own definition as I have come to understand it. 

Indie films are not produced by the  major studio system (Universal, Sony, Disney) to name a few. Indie film budgets are way way way smaller than the studio system, and the artists have control over their own content.  The artists have control over their own content because they aren't indebted to film investors. Independent artists have to secure their money through different means. The artists are usually in charge of every step of the process as well. Pre- Production, Production, and Post Production. The producers are usually people who believe in the project and have another buy in. Perhaps the producers are also the writer, director, or an actor in the film.  Independent filmmakers can make money from their productions, but most don't. Some people use their independent film as a calling card to build a reputation so they can work at studio level. Some Indie Filmmakers can make a living off indie film by distributing their own content. If they do this they hopefully have some help from a distribution company or a marketing/ pr firm to help spread the word. Independent films takes longer to producer. If you don't have the money you gotta put the time. If you don't have the time you better have the money. Studio Systems have Money! So they are able to churn out products quickly, and the artists that work in the studio system are ONLY responsible for doing their art. They are not having to wear multiple hats. 

There is a lot of freedom in Independent Film. Also, you see a lot of Hollywood elite playing in Indie Film as well. That is because they are able to be creative, take risks, and work on content that is more daring than the studio system is willing to allow 

Mar 30, 1:23AM EDT0
About #MovieAMA

Welcome to #MovieAMA, an AMA Event channel about movies, actors, actresses, producers, and more.

The #MovieAMA channel is owned and operated by AMAfeed, LLC.