Lean Filmmaking Academy
An unconventional online course for creating independent feature films
Learn how to make a feature film around your day job, without the pressure of raising a big budget or writing a script first.
We get it. Independent filmmaking is freaking hard.
Working on a passion project for years: writing the script, pitching to producers, networking with talent, all while juggling a family, social life and the 9–5 grind. Let alone during a global pandemic!
You’ve made short films, yet somehow can’t seem to level up to a feature.
You’ve tried everything to get a project off the ground, with little success.
You’ve followed the film industry playbook, but still haven’t caught a break.
No wonder reaching your filmmaking goals can feel out of reach.
But imagine if there was another way to make an independent feature film that was practical, proven and saved you time, money and energy.
Well, guess what...there is!
In the Lean Filmmaking Academy, we’ll teach you to go from idea to launch with our unconventional five-step method.
And you won’t need a script, distributor or bucket load of cash to start.
Plus you’ll learn a bunch of other good stuff, like how to:
- Increase creativity
- Empower talent
- Deepen fan engagement
- Minimize the risk of a flop
- Reduce the fear of starting
- Use data to make informed decisions
- Make more films, more often
- Take control of projects (and your career)
The Lean Filmmaking Academy is perfect for experienced filmmakers, writers, directors, producers or actors who want to take the leap from short films, web series or online content to creating an indie feature film.
Lean Filmmaking turns conventional wisdom upside down to vigorously shake out obsolete ideas revered by the traditional film industry.
We’ve re-imagined the development, production and distribution of independent films through years of research, interviews and experimentation.
We’ve tested successful techniques from other innovative methodologies like design thinking, lean startup and agile software development to see what works best for films.
We’ve used this knowledge to build the Lean Filmmaking Academy, a six-week online course. Every week there’s a masterclass and live Q&A, plus a three-month community membership for extra support and accountability.
We’ll teach you surprising – often counterintuitive – strategies that dramatically improve the filmmaking process, including:
- Collaborating in non-hierarchical, cross-functional squads
- Working in ongoing iterative Make-Show-Adjust Cycles
- Validating assumptions with early fan feedback
We don’t think filmmaking should be do or die. We’re not selling hopes and dreams. Our method is practical and doable. Our attitude is down-to-earth and no-bullshit.
The pandemic has put traditional systems under a harsh spotlight. The film industry is being forcefully disrupted and TBH, it’s long overdue.
We don’t want things to go “back to normal”. Who needs the toxic hustle culture, brutally long hours, creative burnout, unachievable perfectionism and the ongoing exclusion of diverse voices? No thank you.
Right now is a unique opportunity to do things better. And those who don’t embrace these inevitable changes, will be left behind.
It’s an awesome time for brave filmmakers who are curious, open-minded and inventive.
Are you ready to be an indie filmmaking trailblazer?I’m ready – sign me up now
What you’ll learn week-by-week.
Week 1: Lean Filmmaking Fundamentals
An introduction to the Lean Filmmaking philosophy, including the four core values: collaboration is key, fan focused first, story before production values and learn by doing. We’ll take a look at the values in detail and how they transform the way films can be made when combined with Make-Show-Adjust Cycles through the five-step Lean Filmmaking method.
Week 2: Form Squad
Working in a squad fundamentally changes filmmaking. The skills, talents and resources of the combined squad members determine the film that will be made, rather than a script or preconceived budget. In Step 1, we talk about forming a well-aligned squad, collaborative workflow, recruitment considerations, goal alignment and minimum viable squads.
The advantages of forming a squad first include:
- Reducing bureaucracy for a streamlined workflow
- Building trust without the pressure of a do-or-die shoot
- Being prudent with resources to avoid over-producing
- Decreasing ineffectual upfront planning based on the script
- Developing a shared artistic vision and common goals
Week 3: Discover Fans
A film needs a compelling reason to exist, an idea that deeply resonates with fans and the squad. In Step 2, we discuss practical ways to identify early fans, conduct research interviews, make tester videos, get feedback and start validating the fan experience.
The advantages of discovering fans include:
- Practicing creative decision-making based on fan feedback
- Learning to listen to criticism without defensiveness
- Purposely experimenting with daring and outrageous ideas before investing resources
Week 4: Develop Drafts
It’s crucial to find a connection between a story worth telling and the fans who want to see it. In Step 3, we use Make-Show-Adjust Cycles to create full-film drafts that put the story front and center. We show you how to run these cycles efficiently, including how to overlap activities, write fan experience improvements, run squad ceremonies and find Story–Fan Fit.
The advantages of developing drafts include:
- Exploiting lo-fi techniques to test the entire film
- Visually representing the film with a Story Scaffold
- Using fan experience improvements to validate the story
- Increasing success rate by adding ceremonies to MSA Cycles
Week 5: Produce Polishes
It’s pivotal to find the connection between a well-crafted film and the fans who want to buy it. In Step 4, we use Make-Show-Adjust Cycles to create full-film polishes and add production values that enhance the film’s viability in the marketplace. We also discuss how to scale the squad, run paid feedback screenings and find Production–Fan Fit.
The advantages of producing polishes include:
- Using fan experience improvements to validate production values
- Incrementally adding production values to reduce financial risk
- Testing fan intention versus action with paid screenings
- Avoiding the sunk cost fallacy
Week 6: Launch Film
To launch a film, it’s important to communicate the fan experience through distribution channels and marketing campaigns that consistently sell the film. In Step 5, we investigate self-distribution, discuss how to run marketing and sales experiments and go through the logistics of launching.
The advantages of launching include:
- Taking responsibility of marketing to increase profitability
- Not relying on film festivals for sales or publicity
- Demystifying distribution to understand the risks and rewards
- Finding unexpected ways to sell the film that most filmmakers ignore
How good would it feel to stop thinking about making your first feature at some undetermined time in the future and start doing it now?
Well, hello. Let us introduce ourselves. We’re Kylie Eddy & David Eddy.
We’re creative agitators, process nerds, agile enthusiasts and siblings.
We’re co-founders of Lean Filmmaking and co-authors of the book, The Art of Lean Filmmaking: An unconventional guide to creating independent feature films. It’s available worldwide – here’s the full list of retailers.
Kylie (she/her) is a filmmaker, arts marketer and agile creativity coach. David (he/him) is a chief technology officer, agile coach and software developer. We combined our expertise to re-imagine independent film production for uncertain times.
We’ve presented around Australia and produced over fifty events, including Filmmakathons and an Independent Feature Film Accelerator. (Some of the filmmakers we’ve coached have shared their experiences below.)
Now we’re excited to launch the Lean Filmmaking Academy!
Jam-packed with everything we’ve been teaching in person over the last five years, delivered online for the first time.
Kylie teaches the masterclasses, hosts the Q&As and runs the community. David co-hosts some Q&As and is also active in the community.
What filmmakers say about us.
“Lean Filmmaking revolutionises how filmmakers work.
If you have a background in production, Lean Filmmaking goes against every instinct you’ve ever been taught. I spent a long time resisting it but in the end, I was convinced. It changes the way you think about how to make your film.
Filmmakers rarely get taught the importance of audience development and marketing – which for an independent filmmaker looking to make a living on their craft, is actually vital.
We found the Lean Filmmaking method incredibly rewarding. We are able to iterate quickly – significantly expediting the writing/development of the film and ensuring we had an audience when it was released.
The momentum needed to start such a huge project is daunting but if you have a method that takes you through the process, you’ll find a way to actually do it.
As an experienced independent filmmaker, Kylie is uniquely positioned to understand the challenges of micro-budget filmmaking and provide extremely valuable guidance.”
Melanie Rowland (producer), Lilydale Films
“Lean Filmmaking is a powerful tool that has given me resilience, confidence and courage.
I’m savvier with business decisions. I’m less afraid of making mistakes and kinder to myself when I do. Overall, I’m a more creative filmmaker.
Lean Filmmaking feels uncomfortable at first because it challenges the ‘correct way’ we’ve been taught to make films. But that narrative doesn’t accurately reflect the realities of making feature films. I found out the hard way that what I’d been told at film school wasn’t so easy to execute in the real world.
The mentality of Lean Filmmaking is refreshing – it’s not filmmaking at any cost. Instead of pushing through, you’re encouraged to ask, is this working? You can turn things around before it’s too late, increasing the likelihood of success.
Another big mind shift was learning there isn’t only one amazing idea that will launch your feature film career. You have HEAPS of great ideas. And some of the best ideas will come from your audience.
Redefining success is a challenge artists worldwide are facing post-Covid. Lean Filmmaking looks to the future of where filmmaking is going, rather than being stuck in the past.
The Lean Filmmaking method is liberating. It means filmmaking is a far more creative and enjoyable experience.”
Chelsea Denny (writer/director/producer), Disruptor Films
“Lean Filmmaking is nothing less than revolutionary for those looking to channel their voice into a viable, affordable feature film project with results as close to instantaneous as this business gets.
With its focus on fans, it’s an incredibly smart way to get filmmakers to not only think about the end pipeline from the start, but to find, cultivate and maintain their audience.
The weekly masterclasses on developing, refining, making and remaking the film were challenging, but endlessly invigorating and motivating.
It was the kick up the backside we needed. It was both inspiring and, in a more practical sense, essential to making our debut feature film.
Kylie has passion for both screen culture and the lean ethos, which comes through in everything she does. Her enthusiasm is infectious, but it’s backed by knowledge, practicality and unshakeable belief – both in her students and the process.”
Perri Cummings (writer/actor/producer) & Paul Anthony Nelson (writer/director/producer), Cinema Viscera
Give me the nitty-gritty details.
The Lean Filmmaking Academy is a six-week course delivered 100% online. Each week we’ll release a new masterclass and host a live Q&A for you to chat with us and meet your fellow students. You’ll also get a three-month community membership for extra support and accountability.
- 6 x 40-minute masterclasses
- 6 x 60-minute live Q&As
- Checklists and activity workbooks
- Three-month access to course materials
- Three-month community membership
- Enrollment closes: 8 October
- Course starts: 11 October
- Course finishes: 22 November
You’ll be the first to experience this tried and tested material in a brand-spanking new online course.
It’s the only opportunity to enroll in the academy this year, for the special price of $149 (USD). We’ll open the doors again sometime in 2022 (with an increased price).I’m ready – sign me up now
If you’ve ever found yourself thinking...
- Why do only a privileged few get to make features
- I’m exhausted of applying for funding that I’ll never get
- I’m tired of pitching to industry people who don’t give a shit about my ideas
- I don’t have the energy to write another draft of my script that leads nowhere
- I can’t spend another five years (or more) trying to get my first feature made
- I’m sick of not being taken seriously because I’m a woman, non-binary, LGBTIQA+, disabled, neurodiverse and/or BIPOC
- I’d be willing to try something different, radical even, if it got results
- I want to stop saying, “one day I’ll make a feature” and just make the damn thing already
Great news. We created the Lean Filmmaking Academy for you!
Is the academy inclusive?
Yes. We welcome all people and treat everyone with respect. Our goal is to empower all filmmakers. Our mission is to make filmmaking more accessible – especially for those that have been traditionally excluded – and enable more diverse storytelling on the screen.
We use gender inclusive language and avoid ableist terminology. We recognise language is constantly evolving and we will sometimes unintentionally get it wrong. When this happens, we’ll apologize and rectify our mistake. We take responsibility for continuing to educate ourselves.
Racism, sexism, ableism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, fatphobia and any other discrimination or harrassment will not be tolerated in the community.
I’m an experienced filmmaker, is the academy for me?
Yes. If you’re a film school graduate or self-taught filmmaker who has already made short films, web series or online content, this is perfect for you. Maybe you’ve also tried to make a feature the traditional way but it didn’t work out – this is for you too.
I want to make a feature film in the future but just not right now. Is the academy for me?
Yes. You’ll learn how to save time, money and energy from the earliest stages of concept development. Maybe we’ll even inspire you to start sooner than you currently imagine is possible! (Also, we won’t be running this course again until next year.)
I want to make a documentary feature film, is the academy for me?
Yes. There are different challenges and opportunities for documentaries and narrative feature films but the method works for both.
I’m a beginner, is the academy for me?
No. This is an advanced course. It doesn’t cover filmmaking basics and requires previous filmmaking experience.
I’m a director (or insert any of these roles: writer, actor, producer, cinematographer, editor, multi-passionate creative), is the academy for me?
Yes. Working in a collaborative, cross-functional squad is essential to Lean Filmmaking. The more filmmakers who understand this method, regardless of their role, the better.
Is the academy only for low-budget or cheap ideas?
No. It’s for all budget levels. Lean Filmmaking is an iterative method so it’s easy to start small then gradually increase investment once value to the fans has been proven.
You keep talking about “lean”, what do you mean?
We’re referring to the broader ideology that is used in industries like manufacturing, software development or startups. In this context, Lean is a set of principles that focus on providing high value for customers with the least amount of waste. Being cost-effective is one way to be lean, although that’s really just the beginning.
What is the price for the academy?
What is your refund policy?
Prior to enrollment closing on 8 October 2021 you can get a 100% refund by emailing [email protected] There are no refunds once enrollment has closed.
What’s included in the academy?
It’s a six-week course delivered online, including:
- 6 x 40-minute masterclasses
- 6 x 60-minute live Q&As
- Checklists and activity workbooks
- Three-month access to course materials
- Three-month community membership
When does enrollment close and what are the other important dates?
The important dates:
- Enrollment closes: 8 October 2021
- Course starts: 11 October 2021
- Course ends: 22 November 2021
- Masterclasses released every Monday 5pm
- Q&As hosted live every Wednesday 7pm (also recorded)
- All events are in Australian Eastern Daylight Time (AEDT)
- Access to course materials and community membership ends: 10 January 2022
How much time do I need to participate in the academy?
At least two hours each week for the full six weeks of the course. You’ll also have access to all masterclasses, Q&As and community membership for three months so you can go at your own pace. There’s no need to worry about falling behind.
What if I can’t attend the live Q&As?
The live Q&As will be recorded and archived in the community within 24 hours. We’d love you to attend in person but understand you may be in a different time zone or that life (especially right now) can be unpredictable.
Is there also a private Facebook group?
No. We’re hosting the community on a dedicated Lean Filmmaking Academy platform. You’ll have one login for all of the course materials and community membership.
Will you produce my film?
No. This isn’t a funding program and we aren’t a production company. This is an educational course to teach indie filmmakers the five-step Lean Filmmaking method.
Will you read my script?
No. We don’t provide script coverage or feedback and we aren’t a production company. This is an educational course to teach indie filmmakers the five-step Lean Filmmaking method.
Will you find the cast and crew for my film?
No. If you enroll in the academy, there’ll be networking opportunities with other students in the community.
Can I pitch you my film idea?
No. If you enroll in the academy, you’ll find out why we don’t believe in pitching to “industry peers” (spoiler: it’s better to pitch directly to your fans). But as this is our first online course, we’ll be more hands-on in the community and available for advice about your project.
I’m still not sure the Lean Filmmaking Academy is for me...
Email Kylie at [email protected] if you have any other questions. We don’t believe in high-pressure sales tactics. We’re happy to say if it’s not a good fit because we want to give our students the best chance for success.
Hope to see you in the academy!I’m ready – sign me up now