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How Do You Do A Short Film on a Tiny Budget? 18 Tips From Filmmakers Who Made it Work

 

What tips would you give to someone who wanted to shoot a short film on a tiny budget; understand under $500?

That’s exactly what the team from crowdfunding platform Kickstarter did, and they collected 18 tips from filmmakers who did exactly that.

Below are my 10 favorite tips, and you can discover the full selection in the 5 minute video below.

#1 – “When you’re coming up for a concept for a very low budget short film, I would recommend on reading the Dogma 95 Manifesto, it’s an exercise in very strict filmmaking where you have to concentrate on just the story and the characters and you’re not allowed to worry about lights, props,  special effects etc.” (from Karl Beyer & Scott Ross, directors of The Burning House and Jayson Musson’s The Adventures of Jamel)

#2 – “Friends and family are always going to be your go-to people, the people that support you the most and also usually free labor.” (from Reinaldo Marcus Green, maker of StopAnonymousStone Carsand more)

#3 – “When you don’t have a lot of money to pay people, it’s always important to feed them well.” (from Ben Sinclair & Katja Blichfeld, creators of High Maintenance)

#4 – “Something that doesn’t seem like it’s going to save money but actually does is gathering visual references and trying to pre-visualize very specifically what you are trying to accomplish with this shoot.” (from Karl Beyer & Scott Ross, directors of The Burning House and Jayson Musson’s The Adventures of Jamel)

#5 – “Show us who we are imprinting on very quickly, who is the star of the story. The audience is kind of like a bunch of baby birds, they want to know who represents them in the story.” (from Kyle Rankin, director of The Battle of Shaker Heights and Night of the Living Deb)

#6- “You don’t need a nice set to make an interesting camera angle” (from Ben Sinclair & Katja Blichfeld, creators of High Maintenance)

#7 – “Depth of Field. That means that some things are in very sharp focus while others follow into soft focus. The big movies do this because they have very expensive lenses but if you’re on a budget, you can take a consumer camera, and you can zoom in and it will look like you have much better glass.” (from Kyle Rankin, director of The Battle of Shaker Heights and Night of the Living Deb)

#8 –Find a great DP, somebody who knows how to shoot with natural light. Like a street corner and all exteriors, for those you won’t have to pay location cost and will help you keep your cost down.” (from Reinaldo Marcus Green, maker of StopAnonymousStone Carsand more)

#9 –If you can’t afford a $900 Lavalier Microphone and a sound recordist, use the voice recording app on your phone, turn it upside down and put it in the actor’s breast pocket. That actually does a pretty good job at recording the sound.” (from Karl Beyer & Scott Ross, directors of The Burning House and Jayson Musson’s The Adventures of Jamel)

#10-Good sound. Do whatever you can to get good sound. Even record it on a separate device if you can. The audience will let a bad picture go as long as the sound is really good, but they won’t do the reverse.” (from Kyle Rankin, director of The Battle of Shaker Heights and Night of the Living Deb)

Watch the full video below with additional tips from Erin Vassilopoulos, director of SuperiorJesse Burks, director of One Please, the intervention of Emily Carmichael, maker of The Adventures of Ledo and IxThe Ghost and Us, and other films, plus noted essayist and comic artists and general genius-at-large, and Peter Vack, actor, writer, and director of Send.

thanks to Marco North