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Techniques for Independent Production
The challenges of creating Digital Cinema and other narrative forms.


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Old December 13th, 2007, 06:47 AM   #61
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If you go through Pro 8mm, it's around $12,000 to do a feature. Stick with digital.

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Old December 14th, 2007, 03:09 AM   #62
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cole McDonald View Post
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
Blimey, for that kind of money you could start to consider shooting on 16mm!
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Old December 16th, 2007, 02:26 AM   #63
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8mm isn't a production medium
What? Why not? Since when? There is absolutely no reason why Daniel can't shoot on Super-8, and it might in fact be a very good idea, depending on the content and/or Daniel's comfort level with that particular medium. Whether he can afford to do so for $5,000 is a slightly different issue.

Daniel, as for your original question, it's going to be very hard for anyone here to answer it unless we have a much more clear idea of what you're trying to accomplish and how you hope to accomplish it. It's probably just too big a question for anyone to answer on an internet forum.

That said, there's no reason why you can't make a very good movie for $5,000--or less--if you're determined to find creative solutions to your problems, if you have good ideas, and find ways to express them well. It sounds like a cheesy Mr. Rogers self-esteem pep talk to say this, but it's true: you can do anything you want if you do it the right way. What the "right way" for you personally might be is something you have to figure out for yourself. You may not figure out what it is on this project--it takes a long time to "find your own path" sometimes--but if you stay determined and stick to it, you'll find it.
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Old December 16th, 2007, 06:11 PM   #64
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What? Why not? Since when? There is absolutely no reason why Daniel can't shoot on Super-8, and it might in fact be a very good idea, depending on the content and/or Daniel's comfort level with that particular medium. Whether he can afford to do so for $5,000 is a slightly different issue.

Daniel, as for your original question, it's going to be very hard for anyone here to answer it unless we have a much more clear idea of what you're trying to accomplish and how you hope to accomplish it. It's probably just too big a question for anyone to answer on an internet forum.

That said, there's no reason why you can't make a very good movie for $5,000--or less--if you're determined to find creative solutions to your problems, if you have good ideas, and find ways to express them well. It sounds like a cheesy Mr. Rogers self-esteem pep talk to say this, but it's true: you can do anything you want if you do it the right way. What the "right way" for you personally might be is something you have to figure out for yourself. You may not figure out what it is on this project--it takes a long time to "find your own path" sometimes--but if you stay determined and stick to it, you'll find it.
My name is Corwin, not Daniel, but no worries, not a big deal. I think were pretty convinced that we will be shooting on hd, maybe with some key scenes on 16mm. I definitly agree with you on the good ideas thing. Were going to spend most of this comming year developing and re-writing our script, and getting people interested. then from that december untill summer, we will get all of the resorces together. Thanks for the responce,

-Corwin
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Old January 16th, 2008, 09:33 PM   #65
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mixing 16mm into the HD footage will generally be dissapointing. better to shoot HD and use the filters to match the look in post, or just do the same thing in AE with stacking the clip over itself in AE with apply modes and built in AE filters. you can get some great looks this way.

as for the budget, you'll spent $5k just feeding and transporting people. have bad food and its the fastest way to lose you crew because it shows total disrespect to them and lack of value. always have good food for the crew.

don't use cheap tape stock or you'll get burned ! get prograde tape, but get it online at a better price.

2 Tota lights ? I don't think so. they are fine for kicking open a background, especially at night, or behind a silk or in a chimera, but they are really flat hard lights. nothing you want to use on foreground elements like actors unless you **really** know lighting, placement, and light modifiers otherwise it will look pretty bad.

realistically, you need 15-20K to do what you want, and thats being super cheap.I've spent 10-20K in a single day of shooting, and that was keeping it bare for the size of the project, so really, good luck, but I hope you have an additional $10k in reserve you can spend, because you will
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Old January 22nd, 2008, 02:05 AM   #66
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What kinds of Tapes, Spesificly?
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Old March 20th, 2008, 05:36 PM   #67
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Originally Posted by Corwin Garber View Post
I'm shooting my first feature for (hopfully) $5000, and i need some help on were i should spend my money. I have acsess to a canon xha1, and a conon 814 xls (8mm film), and i was hoping on making it all or mostly on 8mm. i own a sennhiser me66 so a microphone is not an issue. i can borrow 2 totas, how much more light do you think i would need? if anybody has some good experience on making super low-budget features, that would be a real help!

Thanks,

--Corwin (15)
Corwin: I'd consider shooting entirely on the Canon XH A1 - film processing is EXPENSIVE.
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Old May 6th, 2008, 09:44 AM   #68
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I know this post is old, but for the sake of archiving it for newbies I'll answer it:

The question posed really can't be answered because recording equipment is usually only a fraction of the total budget. What kind of props do you have, do you need to buy any costumes, do you need to pay for any locations, what kind of catering will you have, what are your fuel cost, is there a special effects budget? All of these production related questions are so important that they will actually dictate which camera (and therefore format) that you can shoot with.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 10:25 AM   #69
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True about the last post. My feature was originally estimated for $8000.00 (I have the equipment and was going to shoot it myself). It ended up costing us close to $70,000 (money paid for by myself and some investors) because we increased the production value (SAG feature, professional DP and crew, cranes, dolly's, paid everyone, etc) and we still had an extremely small crew. The film looks far better than I could have done by myself and the entire experience was great (we had a total of 29 shooting days during the course of the year). I'm really glad I ended up going this route. Sure, it cost a heck of a lot more than I thought but the end product is what it's all about.
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Old June 5th, 2008, 01:02 PM   #70
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Definitely don't shoot the whole thing on 8mm as film is not economical at this scale; the money is much better spent elsewhere. However, shooting one scene or two on film, such as the opener, is a great way to be exposed to the medium.

I don't care what anyone says, you can shoot a feature for $5 if you are creative enough and have proximity to other talented individuals. Of course, the quality and more importantly, consistency, of your final product is much less guaranteed when you rely on volunteers.

For this level of budget, audio is far more important than video. Get a boom pole, a decent mic, and a good set of headphones. Make sure there is sufficient light in each scene, but do not worry about what most people would call cinematography. Stick to talking heads and keep the experimental shots few and far between.

Ask people to work for free, ask places to donate food and supplies, and play your student card as much as possible. Dress in slacks and be clean-shaven when you do this.

There's a lot that you won't learn from a book, so my best advice is to overprepare and adapt. And have one vision.
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Old July 3rd, 2008, 05:02 PM   #71
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Good points, thanks.
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Old July 22nd, 2008, 11:52 PM   #72
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Corwin, I admire your tenacity on this. I find folks in the Indie world chip in and help one another, and I bet you might scrounge up some pretty good equipment and folks to help use it for parts of your shoot. HDV media is cheap, but film (super16 for example) could add some wow factor in some scenes if they needed the stuff film has over HDV at the moment. You would not need a lot of Super16 telecine used that way.

I hope you have storyboarded your film and are having some luck, finding actors. I could give you a couple names depending on your needs. Let us know your schedule, you might find more hands and free equipment that you imagine here in Northern Ca.

See www.spectre-movie.com for an example of what I am talking about. All shot in HDV using borrowed equipment with volunteer labor.
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Old July 25th, 2008, 08:20 AM   #73
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I briefly responded on this before but as its been on my mind ...I made 2 attempts on a micro budget feature.
I tried doing a B&W silent movie around 91(shot some stop motion test footage for it) and in 2004 started work on a very very ambitious project that I had budgeted around $20 000-30 000 CAN.
I had a prop fx background so I saved a huge amount of money but after 3 years worked myself to near insanity without even having shot anything. I had it storyboarded in colour, shot list, script breakdown--planned to shoot a 3 scene demo. Very simple recruitment failures ultimately forced me to shelve it although I continue to work on it as a CG based project.

But-I cant give up on the micro budget feature idea. I KNOW it can be done. It has been done. For me the major attraction is to see how high i can get production values and make it watchable on a shoestring.


Now I am thinking in terms of crafting a story based around a single location or two and seeing how dramatic or suspenseful I can make the scenario, and budgeting it around the most important aspects(including paying the actors as someone else mentioned).

Improvising and being creative with little resources can be rewarding in itself-even if you dont get to make it(but its better when you do :) , as it is an amazing creative brain challenge. Edit: I remember seeing a setup someone had done where he made the passenger section of an airplane in his living room-f***ing brilliant! Very inspiring.

When I started out in 16mm it was ultimate rush to load up some animation footage that I had just had processed and run it on my rickety projector. I once did a Harryhausen-like skeleton with animated fire around it--took me a month to do a three second shot but it was worth it when I got the film back.


I am leaning towards buying my first digi camera next year(although I just bought my first still digi cam-A Canon Powershot SX100-havent tried the video yet) and being a one man crew if I have to(although along the way of my last attempt someone told me that if i didnt have help by the time I got to shooting I would hate it and it was very true-I really did come to hate it, now I have warm feelings towards it again).

I am stubborn and would probably attempt to rig a one man band type of set up before I died of exhaustion.
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Old September 12th, 2008, 12:27 AM   #74
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Feature for $5000

I speak as an ultra low-budget producer and offer these thoughts for you to consider.

1. Watch your back and protect yourself. The larger your production gets, the more you NEED production insurance. In fact, if you are filming a feature you need insurance. Period. It is not expensive and might save you a lifetime of troubles. Producing and directing is rewarding, but remember YOU will be the one responsible for the misdeeds or accidents of your cast and crew.

Ditto for putting the proper paperwork, releases and clearances in place. If nothing else, going through the "right" technique here prepares you for a bigger projects, perhaps eventually ones with serious money put up by serious people. Doing the rigging right now, means you will be ready later.

2. Be clear about your personal objectives. Why are you doing this? What do you want to accomplish? In my opinion, it is quite appropriate to do a movie for practice or for "fun." The more of these you do, the better you will get. Better that you do ten $5,000 features than one at $50,000. Further, you may find that different features will have different objectives.

3. Part of the fun in producing is learning how the Hollywood pros do it, but also having the confidence to reject their methods when they are inappropriate for a micro budget picture. It is a topic for another time, but the traditionally formatted script is wholly inappropriate for low-budget shooting: It obscures story beats, camera angles and timing. Scripts have other faults, too but I won't go into that now. But you may well find that much filmmaking orthodoxy is best examined in light of your objectives--even your choice of SD vs HD vs 8mm vs ?

4. I have budgeted many times and here is what I have found. Ultimately, the budget is driven by production days. And production days are a function principally of two variables: number of locations and the square of crew+cast size. In other words cutting cast and crew by 50% cuts your cost by 75%. Cutting the number of locations by 50% yields a 50% reduction. The reason for this is that increasing the size of the cast and crew slows production, impedes communication, and adds to the mouths to feed. Past about 15 or 20 people, you need to add people just to feed and manage them.

Locations involve travel time, mix ups, and scheduling problems. This means you should write/rewrite the script to use as few locations as possible. One way to make this artistically practical is to select one or more "super locations" that provide you with multiple sets. If the company move is from the barn to the patio, that is easy and fast to accomplish, whereas driving across town might take half a day to get the team going again.

5. Have a good Assistant Director. In my process, this person stays by my side and helps me with the shot list and helps with organizational things as necessary. I can't imagine functioning on a feature or short without an A/D.

Good Luck
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Old September 12th, 2008, 01:15 AM   #75
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great stuff man, thanks!
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