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Techniques for Independent Production
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Old October 27th, 2007, 11:32 AM   #46
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My first two features didn't make it to the $5,000 threshold, but both were very valuable to me.

First, they helped me learn filmmaking. There's no substitute for doing. You can read all the books and study all the movies and hear all the stories and you still really don't know what making a movie is like until you make a movie. So there was that aspect of it.

Secondly, seeing my script on screen helped my writing tremendously, which has, no doubt, been a factor in my now being a professional, paid screenwriter and WGA member.

Thirdly, having previous work to show people allayed their fears and helped open their wallets when I wanted to make something that cost a little bit more money. It made me less of an unknown quantity. I don't think I could've made a more expensive feature had I not had those previous features to show as examples.

Finally, they helped me make connections to others. Though nobody was anybody when I started making the first feature, several actors, crew and people the actors and crew know have progressed in the business since then. I've been writing a project now that I wouldn't have even known about it not for an actor I met on my first flick knowing a producer who was looking for someone to write a screenplay for her.

So, I think those first two features did a lot for me, even though neither one of them achieved any distribution or direct revenues on their own.
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Old October 28th, 2007, 09:26 AM   #47
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Ryan,

Ultimately, that's the best thing a microbudgeted movie can do: teach skills, lessons, etc., without losing one's shirt. Great to hear!

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Old November 1st, 2007, 08:10 PM   #48
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Private email me, if you'd like. I can say one thing...you can go a long way with discounts and free gear, plus affordable or free labor. Besides, I'm going from $15,000 to $150,000 on my next feature, mostly because of what's in the script (comic book adaptation vs. indie comedy/drama).

heath
Most of the money that grants will get us will probably be in equptment and stuff, at least, thats what were hoping for. $150,000! Nice.
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Old November 1st, 2007, 08:42 PM   #49
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Grants are a tough issue; I've had friends apply, and they didn't set a specific criteria or demographic. For instance, a lot of grants are for movies with messages, like, don't do drugs, rights, etc.

Plus, most of us AREN'T non-profits, and I can tell you it's a slippery slope to try and be for-profit and take donations, etc.

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Old November 26th, 2007, 10:53 AM   #50
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it's worth checking out Shane Meadows work, Deadmans shoes and his super low budget feature Le Donk which he shot in 5days on two z1's still cost 25grand though!

I'd suggest take your 5grand and make 5 shorts if I were you
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Old November 26th, 2007, 02:56 PM   #51
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For a no budged film) -- You can only hope to get really good actors that are engaging enough to hold peoples attention for a feature length film and a story that is worth watching.

I have tried this very thing, and failed.

Technically you wont be able to compete with Hollywood, so don't try that approach. Do the best you can but be practical. And Get as much help as you can. Worry most about the actors and the story and try to get other people on the technical side if possible. This is your best approach.
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Old November 26th, 2007, 05:21 PM   #52
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The two biggest rules I'd say about making micro-budgeted films is to have a great script, and to be extremely organized before, during and after the shoot. Discipline is key.

I can tell you, while I did hang out with friends, I was the one guy who would be at home working on his script on his days off, while everyone else was having a good time. Do I regret it? No, but I do wish I'd spent more of my free time relaxing.

Filmmaking is hard no matter what, esp. at the low budget level. But the rewards are tremendous. A screenwriter friend of mine once commended my freedom while writing and shooting, while his scripts were getting butchered in re-writes by highly paid script doctors.

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Old November 26th, 2007, 11:44 PM   #53
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For a no budged film) -- You can only hope to get really good actors that are engaging enough to hold peoples attention for a feature length film and a story that is worth watching.

I have tried this very thing, and failed.

Technically you wont be able to compete with Hollywood, so don't try that approach. Do the best you can but be practical. And Get as much help as you can. Worry most about the actors and the story and try to get other people on the technical side if possible. This is your best approach.
Thats a good point-- i know some people who can healp with the technical side of things. were probably shooting not this, but nex summer, which gives us allot of time to work on the script and secure actors.
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Old November 27th, 2007, 09:27 AM   #54
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One more thing: Great marketing skills, so you can sell your movie and yourself as a filmmaker.

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Old December 1st, 2007, 02:48 AM   #55
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Technically you wont be able to compete with Hollywood, so don't try that approach. Do the best you can but be practical. Worry most about the actors and the story and try to get other people on the technical side if possible. This is your best approach.
I just think this is really great advice, and maybe even a little understated. There are so many shorts where people have worked hard trying to create effects and heavily supported camera moves that just aren't going to compete with a Hollywood production.

Think of "Open Water". It wasn't as low budget as what you're doing, but the concept is along Tyson's line of thinking. No big crane shots, or "sky replacement" done in post. Just a straight forward story that managed to captivate viewers. That has to be one of the most successful indie films ever. One thing they did really well in "Open Water" is they used the setting totally to their advantage. The fact that almost all the action takes place out in the water meant no fancy lighting, massive cranes or dollies, just POV camera work (I thought it was a brilliant strategy, and almost drove myself crazy trying to think of a similar scenerio... lost in the desert, a snowstorm, trapped in a mine, pinned under the rubble of the Twin Towers...) Just thought it was very "outside the box" thinking, and it really paid off.
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Old December 1st, 2007, 04:39 AM   #56
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To see how a small budget film can work you should see "Once". OK it cost 150k Euros, but the important reason why it worked was the audience bought into the two main characters and I hear the leading man wasn't the first choice. By chance, (which can be the case) the casting worked.

If your budget is only $5,000, you're going to have to bring your actors into the creative process (because you can't pay them, so they'll be investors) and create an original piece with an on screen chemistry.

You can't really just clone something that has been successful, the audience will have moved on by the time your film is completed. To stand out, your film really has to be different.
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Old December 3rd, 2007, 07:26 AM   #57
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I think a feature can be made for really any price, 5K included but it requires two things:
A) A great (not good, great) screenplay, that can get people excited about it and WANT to tell the story contained therein. Which leads to :

B) Instilling the day to day (or month to month depending on your availability to shoot) passion for the cast, crew, and most importantly yourself. What you may not have in the ways of Fischer dollies, 35mm packages and huge lights, you can replace with passion. That will make the story pop, and the audience can forgive it not looking glossy and big budget. Of course, to trained eyes, that pizzaz will be lacking, but again, have a great story.
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Old December 5th, 2007, 01:40 AM   #58
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Thanks, Great advice!
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Old December 12th, 2007, 11:41 PM   #59
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Keep working on the script until it's great.
Then sell the script.
Get permission to come visit the set during filming.

Ala Robert Rodriguez, shoot film but no sound. Have it be great. Get a studio to do the sound and bring the film to market for several hundered thousand dollars. But 8 mm probably won't go any where.

With 8mm make a short and impress somebody with it. Don't spend any money. If you can't convince people to give you all the money you need to make an 8mm short, you probably can't tell enough "stories" to make it in the movie business.

Out of curiosity, how much does film and processing cost to shoot enough for an 8mm feature? Are you going to cut the film yourself?

Over and out.
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Old December 13th, 2007, 12:31 AM   #60
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tri-ex B/W Reversal stock 2.5 minutes (50 ft/18 fps)
Stock: $15
Developing: $15
Telecine: ~$10-$15

So, $45 for every 2 1/2 minutes of film shot and developed. Shooting Reversal to save the cost of a positive print. Edited in the computer...otherwise there's more development and stock costs.

Feature film = 90 minutes
Shooting ratio 1:1 (not probable)
36 Reels, $1620

Shooting ratio of 4:1 (more realistic)
144 Reels, $6480
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