Becoming a filmmaker without film school


Becoming a filmmaker without film school

D.L. Watson, from Eugene, Oregon, is one of those real “characters” who epitomise the independent artist and who form the backbone of every community.

He’s been making movies since 2005. He couldn’t afford to go to film school, so he started by teaching himself to edit.


He took the whole of the first series of Lost from the DVD box set, and edited it down into a feature-length movie, adding his own sound effects and score. He then found himself inundated with requests to do the same to other TV series.

“It was fun at first,” he laughs, “but I really wanted to do my own stuff. And I didn’t want to get sued either!”

In 2006, he bought his first camera, a small Panasonic which he still uses, and started to make films under the banner of Leefilm Productions. He soon began to find it frustrating as he couldn’t yet do what he wanted. Then in 2007, he discovered The Movies and realised that he could do a lot in animation that he couldn’t afford to do any other way. Around this time, he and a friend had an idea for a science fiction movie, The Grey People, which he’s been working on ever since.

Two years ago, D.L. suffered a serious injury while working out in the gym, and had to give up his job as a Radio Shack salesman. He’s been using his time to practice his film-making skills, and has now gone back to school to study film-making properly. He’s tried many different tools and techniques, and for one recent film, Graphic: A Risky Business, he used a unique blend of Moviestorm and live action. His latest film, The Letter, was shot live action and storyboarded using Moviestorm.

It’s all about finding the right tools for the job,” he says. “Moviestorm is great for storyboards, even if you don’t use it in the film.

“When I saw Saving Grace by Sisch, I pretty much fell in love with Moviestorm and knew it was what I needed for The Grey People. It’s affordable too at only $250 for absolutely everything, or just a few bucks a month if you’re short of cash. Just a camera will cost you at least $300. When you’re in my situation, that’s important.”