Saturday, April 23, 2011

It all starts with the script

I keep starting and stopping this entry. I've decided it needs to be a work in continual progress. If you're making a No-Budget film, there are certain things that you just can't have, and certain things you should have. These apply mostly to projects in the 40k range and under, but are useful for larger things as well. (I will continually add to this, feel free to add your own in the comments section).

• You must have only a limited amount of speaking roles.
• You must have limited supporting/day players.
• You must only have locations that you know you have access to (in other words, don't write a scene in a restaurant if you don't have a friend who will let you shoot in their restaurant). in other words, DON'T JUST WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW, BUT WRITE WHAT YOU HAVE!
• You should film mostly only interiors and daylight exteriors. Even night interiors will be hard, day interiors and day exteriors will always look the best.
• Sadly you cannot have explosions (as one friend of mine said: What's the point of making a movie if you can't blow something up), stunts, car chases, etc.
• You should shoot for only around 15 days, and should have a script length of only about 75 pages.
• Part of your budget should be set aside for a good sound person. Don't think a grunge looking film can get by with grunge sound.
• Script must (as always) be top notch.
• If you can use SAG's ultra low budget contract and hire the most professional actors you can, but remember the added costs: agents, Pension & Health, payroll and (if they're traveling) air-fare, luggage, hotel and per diem. It's will always be hard to add an actor that you don't know or audition to your project. If you approach someone who isn't a friend it is unlikely that their People will not get "the Spirit"of the thing, and will try to negotiate more than what you can afford.
• Plan on a crew of Producer, Director, DP, sound, camera assistant, make-up artist.
• I only use a makeup artist when I have female actors on set.
• Have a story that somehow appeals to a niche audience to take advantage of specialty film festivals.
• Film during the summer to take advantage of film students who can work for free.
• Make a movie for a budget that you can make back solely through grass roots sales -- don't plan on anyone buying it.
• Make your scenes short. If your scenes are about half a page long then they're really easy to grab while stealing a location, or in between noisy sounds, etc. If they're much longer you have to do a lot more holding for sound, and it's harder to run in and steal things.

(more to come)

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