4 Practical Tips for Shooting a "No-Budget" Film

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You're not the first person that ever wanted to make a film while having little to no money. Many have gone before you, and some great films, even some classics, have come from the process. Don't let a lack of funds hold you back. Get out there and use these tips for shooting a no-budget film.

1. Understand What "No-Budget" Means

When it comes to film-making, "no-budget," "micro-budget," and "low budget," are very relative terms. You have to stay realistic about what you can and cannot produce. There are no set-in-stone rules for what constitutes these lower budgeted movies, but here are some rough figures.

  • Low budget – Below ~$2-million
  • Micro-budget – Below ~$250,000
  • No-budget – Below ~$50,000

Don't worry about those dollar amounts. While $50k can mean "no budget," so could $5k. A budget can certainly start at $0.

2. Research How Others Did It Before You

There are a lot of movies out there made with absurdly tight budgets. Many of the filmmakers that have gone on to bigger and better have shown themselves more than happy to share their tips and experiences. Search for their experiences online, or find their commentary track on one of their no-budget movies.

You can find whole websites dedicated to filming and making movies with little or no money. There are whole communities of filmmakers that pride themselves on what they can do without the need of thousands of dollars.

3. Craft a Story and Keep Your Budget, or Lack Thereof, in Mind

One of the keys to any movie of any budget is a good story. Work on your story, polish it, make it the best you can possibly make it. You should put together your script as if you know you're definitely going to film it—because you are.

Because you know you're not going to have much, or any, money when it comes time to film, you should keep your budget in mind. For example, your story should have the bare minimum of locations. If possible, keeping it to a single location or space can help your budget immensely.

Use as few characters as you can. If you're going to have special effects of any kind, make sure you know how to generate that effect for free or cheap with a digital software or practical solutions.

4. Create a Plan and an Actual Budget

You have a story, you know where you want to film it, and research has clued you in on what you need to accomplish it. Now you should create a full plan for making it happen.

List the things you need, and give them dollar amounts. This should include cast, equipment, food, software, and everything else that will go into making your film. From there, you can start to figure out where you can cut corners or make substitutions.

Your camera will likely represent one of your largest expenses. One way around that is to rent a professional cinema camera. If you plan your shoot just right, renting a camera will give you the ability to shoot high quality scenes over the course of a weekend or two. Talk to a company like Camera Ready about what your options are.

Renting will also help you maintain what little bit of a budget you still have. Always remember to use your limitations to get creative, don't let them keep you from doing the thing you want to do.

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20 January 2017

The Ocean and Photography: My Two Loves Combined

Ever since my parents allowed me to snap a few photos on their camera on vacation when I was a young child, I have loved photography. While we lived in the Midwest, I became hooked on taking photographs of the ocean and boats when we visited the Florida coast during one of our trips together. I found that just being near the ocean really made me happy, and after we returned home, I was able to "take the ocean with me" to experience that same feeling by taking photos of it. Being near the ocean is so calming and uplifting, but most people don't live near the coasts and don't get to experience its beauty every day. I now live by the ocean, so I decided to create a blog to share my tips about how you can best photograph the things you love.