I have seen a lot of micro budget indie flicks, and besides bad scripts, many of them don’t work because the filmmakers try to make a bigger budget movie, without a budget.
The objective with your first few films is to show the industry what you can do, so you can then attract finance and talent for other projects. Or to start your own indie company too.
So whats the solution? Does that mean you should not make a no budget film. Absolutely not! That’s what I have just done. But the concept and script has to be decent. In my opinion, there are a few rules about what type of film you should make when you have no money.
THE WRONG WAY TO MAKE A MICRO BUDGET MOVIE
You write a film that needs
- Name actors
- To be shot on 35mm, or high end HD
- Good music tracks
- to be shot slick. (dollies, cranes, steadycam)
- good composer
- great lighting set ups
- sfx shots
If you have written a script that needs all this, and you decide to shoot it no budget style, with a few TV faces attached, you will fail with the film. You will also spend the next few years rationalising that if you had bigger names, better cameras, lights, toys, SFX, then it would have worked.
I think the solution to the problem is a lot more simple. First of all come up with a decent concept, an original angle on something, and write the best script you can write. Most important thing, write it to suit the “no budget” style of the movie. If you get this right, your film can work without all the other baggage.
THE RIGHT WAY TO MAKE A MOVIE
Write a feature film that
- Would “not work” with name actors.
- Has to be shot on dv/low end HD, because suits the story
- Does not need music, “Blair Witch”, “Cloverfield” style
- uses available lighting, basic doc camera style
- Needs to be handheld style, to tell story
My latest flick, MISSION X, was so forgiving in every area, because I wrote it as a no budget movie. So I more or less got what I wanted. I wrote it to suit the gritty reality style of the doc camera feel. In turn, it does not LOOK like a film that I needed a bigger budget.
If “Blair Witch” had been shot on 35mm, had music tracks, names actors, steadycam, composer, sfx, etc etc, it would have failed. It’s really quite simple, write the story to suit the no budget style. It’s very very obvious advice, but most of the micro budget films I am aware always make this mistake. In turn, they look cheap and nasty.
I am no expert, but I hope my experiences might help.