Producing a low budget film
Financing your film is probably the hardest job of the producer. Later on I’m going to write about raising money for films, but now I’m going to discuss the first step in raising money and it’s saving money. I have also put a link at the end of the article to a great course full with tactics and strategies for raising money from independent financiers.
Now let’s start by lowering your budget:
Werner Herzog once said that the best advice he can give to young filmmakers is not to wait for someone to finance your film – “If you can’t afford to make a million-dollar film, raise $10,000 and produce it yourself.”
Planning a low budget film is no picnic. You do have the advantage of artistic freedom, but as a film producer, there are going to be a lot of problems to deal with.
so here is the deal:
On one hand, the producer’s job is to produce the director’s vision, but he also needs to keep the budget low. You have to remember-The chances that a low budget film will become a hit are not too big (even though we all know about low budget movies like Clerks, Reservoir Dogs and much more that made it big),
but here is the kicker:
The odds that the film will be screened at festivals are not bad at all.
I’m going to give you a few proven low budget film tips that will help you lower your budget tremendously
how to make a low-budget film? by planning ahead
The first step into saving money is planning ahead. Do a script breakdown once you get the final draft of the script. That is the only way you can really understand what the film’s needs are.
Look at what you got
A good way to start is to see what you have. Do that before you decide what film to make. If you got a big house, use that! If it’s a cool car, make a movie that will use it for the best. If it’s talented friends, use them. Take a good look at the unique things you have and own and use them to help you decide what’s your next movie is going to be like and about.
Save money with locations
A good location is the base of every good film. You shouldn’t compromise with it. But still: Sometimes it’s better to lower the expenses that come with the location so you can save money that will help you put up a better lighting or more days of shooting.
Here are a few tips to help you lower location’s expenses:
Try to use as minimum locations as possible
Yes, it may require you to rewrite the script, but if for example you’ll stay in one location and you’ll work with a small team and a relatively simple equipment, You can speed up your shootings with up to eight pages of script on one day of shooting.
Try to shoot as much as possible in houses
That way, each room can be its own location so you do not have to spend the time to move the whole team around. If you are using different locations in different places, make sure that it will be easy to move from one location to the other.
Do not be embarrassed to ask friends and family to shoot at their houses, but be honest with them about what you are going to do at their home. Tell them how long the shooting is going to last.
Shoot in small rooms
If you are shooting in small rooms, it is possible to use smaller flashlights. and you are going to have to use a smaller film crew
Use every location as much as possible
Try to find locations that have the potential to be a few different locations. Sometimes every corner of a room can be a different location.
Save money with Narrowing film roles:
Avoid roles of one or two sentences
Think about it- the cashier at the entrance to the theater that says, “What show do you want to see?” That part can cost you much more than if the role would be played without any words. Also, this is a good time to run the script again and see if there are characters that aren’t contributing anything to the script.
“One could make money and get a career going with a low-budget horror film about killers attacking holidays. It is always flattering to have somebody copy you.”
Investing wisely production team
A good team is very important and you should not compromise with them. Try to get a team that will work in return for getting experience and try to take a professional team for days that are complicated. The roles you should try to find experienced crew are a producer, cinematographer, lighting director, sound editor and assistant director.
Basically the bigger the budget, the more experienced team you should have. Remember! An experienced crew can save your money. Remember that the more your team is experienced, the easier it will be to move around locations and deal with special effects and so on and that should be taken into consideration also. You should also reduce the amount of staff as much as possible and give each member several other roles. It also lowering the production budget and speed up the shootings.
If you are getting the staff in return for food and experience, they should not spend money on anything such as travel. All they get for their work is this meal and a copy of the film when it is ready. Also, if people are working for you for free, don’t shoot over 10 hours a day.
A good way of payment is by giving the members some percentage of the profits of the film. In this case, there is no need to pay for staff expenses and the working conditions are like regular freelancers. It is important To be clear right from the start about the working conditions and terms of payment.
Choosing actors budget’s wise
Do not use an incompetent people as your actors. I’m talking about friends, family and so on. The actors are a very important part in the success of the movie and it is worth investing there. There are many good actors in the industry, even celebrities that will agree to act for free or at a very low salary.
Just remember! There are plenty of actors who had put all their money in drama schools and then went out to find that there is not much work. Make the most of it. You can find actors in community theaters, drama schools, etc. Advertise in those places, and write in the ads all the necessary information such as gender, age, and type of special features role, etc.
Saving money with cinema equipment
If you are a film student, you can get the school equipment from your film school, but you still may need to rent some of the extra equipment. So the only tip I can give you here to save money is, to look for your team,with the equipment you need.
Save money on the post-production stage
When you get to the post production stage, invest in it just like the investment at any other stage. This is in the final stage of the film. The latest version of the script in the movie. Take all the time you need to for the video editing. It’s the same deal with sound design and effects.
How to lower your budget on post-production stage?
Rent editing room in dead hours
First, find professional editing rooms that can give you rooms in lower prices during the hours that are dead for them like night and weekends.
Come prepare to the video editing room
Know what you want. Do not waste the time and nerves of the video editor to try things you are not sure of. The more you know what you want, the more you will save editing shifts (and by that- save money)
“Other writers, producers, and directors of low- budget films would often put down the film they were making, saying it was just something to make money with. I never felt that. If I took the assignment, I’d give it my best shot”
What you can do as a producer to save money
Become a Multimedia
In low budget films the crew is very small. That means that the producer has to do a lot of other jobs like finding locations, be involved in the casting of extras and much more. Sometimes the film producer even finds himself acting as an assistant director (although it is not recommended)
Be very very organized
If you are working on a low budget production, it is important to be very organized, disciplined and to understand all the processes in the production, also it is advised to know how to control your team better, to be skilled in negotiations, to be resourceful and know to use all available resources and most important to be able to think outside the box.
The next steps of financing your film
Now that you know how to save money, you can move on to the next step of financing your film and that is the script breakdown. If you want to deepen your knowledge in funding your film, I really recommend checking this amazing course from Tom Malloy. Tom Malloy, an experienced producer, that teaches a solid funding strategy with many proven tactics for raising money from independent financiers. The system consists of several training modules through all the stages from script to the pitch, business plan and more. The price right now is 67$ but if you are really serious about filmmaking, it can save you a lot of money later on and more important – a lot of time. There is also a 100% money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied in any way.
You can check it out by clicking Here!