How To Make A Low Budget Short Film
With the arrival of inexpensive, high quality professional grade film equipment, it is now easier than ever to make your own movies. However, feature films that are over 90 minutes are time consuming and often too much work for those on a low budget. Short films are a great alternative and have a growing audience at film festivals and on specialty TV channels. Follow these steps to make your own low budget short film.
1 Watch short films. You should have a working knowledge of the short film format before you begin, so make sure to take in a short film festival or watch popular short films online.
2 Write a script. Make sure you have a good story to tell. Before you shoot, write down the complete story including action and dialogue. Make sure your story has original characters and dialogue, avoiding cliches. Try to keep locations and actors to a minimum, as each actor or location may increase your budget. Using only daytime locations will cut down on lighting needs, and using interiors will allow you more control over the set.
3 Keep your film short. One script page is equal to one minute screen time. With that in mind, keep your short under 30 minutes. Film festivals program in 15 minute segments and they often want to include as many films as possible. Writing a shorter story increases your chance of being selected.
4 Write a budget. Using a simple spreadsheet, write down what you plan to spend on equipment, props, transportation, locations, actors, crew, and food.
5 Try to get everything for free. Amateur film makers love to work on films. Find amateurs that have equipment you need, such as lights or a camera, and offer them a position on your film. See if there are restaurants that are willing to donate meals to your film production.
6 Begin fundraising. There are numerous websites devoted to funding independent art work. Try filming an interview with yourself discussing the film, or perhaps shooting a short trailer to drum up interest. Remember that spending too long on funding is a form of procrastination.
7 Gather your crew. Use your friends, coworkers, or classmates as crew as often as possible. One area that you may want to pay special attention to is sound. The sound of your film can make or break the movie, so be willing to donate a slightly larger portion of your budget on sound.
- A minimal crew should have a director, cameraman and sound person of course these people will have to do other jobs such as continuity and producing.
8 Schedule. On a calendar work out when your cast and crew can make a shoot, do this several weeks before you film. From your screenplay, make a card for each location and on this card put all the scenes you need to film in that location. From this work out a plan for what you will shoot on each day factoring in:
- That a day should be no longer than 10 hours, so its best to start early i.e 9 in morning.
- You should do at least two takes for each shot.
- It will take time to get to a location so keep filming local.
- It will take time to do a lot of camera and lighting set ups.
- Weather cover. What will you film if the weather is bad?
9 Use social media. For each shoot and audition create and event on Facebook, or any other social media commonly used by your team. This way it is clear when your shoot is and you can have discussions with cast and crew.
10 Rehearse. Doing rehearsals will save time when you are shooting and lead to better performances. Schedule at least two before your shoot and to make these effective write down beforehand what you want to achieve.
11 Film quickly and cheaply. Film on weekends and after business hours to insure your crew will be able to work steadily. Keeping filming combined to two or three days will cut costs in both equipment rentals and meals. Use more than one camera.
12 Pay special attention to sound. The sound of your film can make or break the movie, so be willing to donate a slightly larger portion of your budget on sound.
13 Take care of catering. Feed crew and cast well, this is essential to keeping up their moral. You could bring sandwiches, a flask of tea and or coffee, and a flask of soup.
14 Continue fundraising. Make money for post-production by throwing parties, dinners, or other events where you charge cover. Showing clips from your film will continue to drum up interest.
15 Edit. There is cheap, effective software currently on the market for both Mac and P.C. Purchasing the equipment may be a large initial investment, but it will pay off in time as you learn to edit your own films, rather than paying another editor. Logging, jotting down every take and marking good takes can save you a lot of time.
16 Send to film festivals. If you are interested in entering your film in competitions, be prepared to make DVDS of your film and pay festival entry fees. Before entering, make sure you follow all the terms and conditions required by each festival, and make sure the content of your film is appropriate for the festival.