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 movies, but now I’m going to discuss the first step in raising money and saving money. I have also put a link at the end of the article to a great course full of tactics and strategies for raising capital 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 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 trick:

On the 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 that the chances that a low budget film will become a hit are not too big (even though we all know about small budget movies like Clerks, Reservoir Dogs and much more that made it big).

but….

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.

 

Planning ahead

The first step into saving money is planning. Do a script breakdown once you get the final draft of the script. That is the only way you can understand what the film’s needs are.

 

Look at what you got

An excellent way to start is to see what you have. Do that before you decide what film to make. If you own a big house, use that! Did you get a cool car? Make a movie with that car. 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. 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 the location’s expenses:

  • Try to use as minimum locations as possible – Yes, it may require you to rewrite the script, but if you’ll stay in one location and work with a small team and 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 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 another.
  • 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.

 

Pro Tip:

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 home.

Tell them how long the shooting is going to last.

 

Save money with the right cast and crew

  • Avoid the roles of one or two sentences. – Think about it- the cashier at the entrance to the theater that says, “What do you want to see?” That part can cost you much more than if the role would be played without any words. Now, go over the script again to see if there are characters that aren’t contributing anything to the script.
  • Investing wisely production team – A good team is critical, and you should not compromise with them. Try to get a team that will work in return for gaining experience and try to take a professional team for complicated days. 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 you money. That the more your team is experienced, the easier it will be to move around locations, which should also be taken into consideration. You should also reduce the amount of staff as much as possible and give each member several other roles. It also lowers the production budget and speeds up the shootings.

Pro Tip:

If you are getting the staff in return for food and experience, they should not spend money on anything such as travel. All your crew gets for the work is this meal and a copy of the film when ready. Also, if people are working for you for free, don’t shoot over 10 hours a day.

 

The right 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 vital to be clear right from the start about the working conditions and terms of payment.

 

Think about the budget when choosing actors, but…

Do not use incompetent people as your actors. I’m talking about friends, family and so on. The actors are a very important part of 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 final draft of the script in the movie. Take all the time you need to for video editing. It’s the same deal with sound design and effects. Here are a few tips to save money at the post-production stage:

 

  • Rent editing room in dead hours – First, find professional editing rooms that can give you rooms at lower prices during the hours that are dead for them like night and weekends.
  • Prepare for the video editing room – Know what you want. Do not waste 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)
 

What you can do as a producer to save money

To be more effective as a producer so you can save production’s money there are two main things you can do:

  • Become a MultimediaIn 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 importantly, to be able to think outside the box.