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Making a Quality No Budget Movie

In this article, "How to make a no budget movie", the reader is exposed to the world of making a short movie for fun and profit. The article reveals to the reader, several steps needed to needed to make a successful movie for little or no money, using a variety of resources availble to and from the Internet, as well as the use of prosumer digital equipment. It is a beginner's lesson guide, designed for the new filmmmaker to learn from.

This is not a tell you how to make a no budget film, but a movie.  What's the difference you may ask?  Well technically, you would use a film camera, which would require film, processing, and such, whereas a movie, is a digital representation that tells a story through the use of computerized devices.  The producer's and the distributor's answer would differ a lot from that, a film is an artistic endeavor design to be seen by only a few that appreciate the avante garde without earning any real money, whereby, a movie is a visual story that can be watched by just about anyone and has the "greatest possibility of returning the money, it cost to make it, plus a little more." .  To the guy with no money but a dream, it is the calling card by which to build your filmmaker reputation.  Okay, for this exercise, we are going t use a character named "Filmmaker."  Filmmaker is just starting out, has no investors, a little money from his job, and access to the web.  But one day Filmmaker wakes up to the sounds of bluebirds singinga happy tune and a desire to make a movie.  So Filmmaker calls out for the Fairy Godfilmmaker to help make the movie. The Fairy Godfilmmaker asks Filmmaker, "How much money do have to make this movie? Filmmaker pulls out the money from a pocket.  The Fairy Godfilmmaker asks, "What type of script have you written for your film, Filmmaker?"  Fimmaker looks dumbfounded and then asks "Script, Do I need a script, I was going to make something up, like reality TV?" The Fairy Godfilmmaker then asked and how else will help you make this masterpiece, how many friends can you rely on?  Filmmaker, down trodden at the thought, looks down at the ground and stutters, "None, Fairy Godfilmmaker."  With that Fair God filmmaker tells Filmmaker there are only two things to say, "The first thing 'Are Youi insane and the second, let's get started.   Here is my checklist for making a no  budget movie.

  1. Download a screenplay software, currently CELTX.com has a free version available.
  2. Open the program and WRITE out your script.  It does not have to be long, but remember, traditionally, a page is one minute long  and this being your first movie, will most likely have to finish in the first day.  We once shot eighteen pages in one day.  IT iis not recommended. Plan for a four or five minute short on your first time out.
  3. Create on one, two, or three person scenes.  One if you can find a compelling voice, two if you need the characters to react off of each other, and three if you need to break up the scene from just being a talking heads piece.
  4. Create the setting in no more than tow easy to get to places, a backyard and in a stairway either at school, a parking structure, or in an office building (better sound, usually better lit and less people using it.)  Parking garages usually will let you do it if you ask, as long as you do not obstruct the customers.
  5. Now rent or borrow the movie, "Rope" directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  Watch it.  Shot cheap and on a budget, it still holdsa compellin story.
  6. Now cast it.  Go to a local teater arts group, tell them you are making your first movie and you would like to use some real good actors.  Tell them that you can not pay them but you can give them a burnt copy of the completed movie when its out of final post.production.
  7. So now you have selected you cast and you have told them what they will recieve for their participation.
  8. Now open an account on craigslist and put up a free ad for your crew.  (Note there are a lot of peole that like to flag ads for no particular reason, but be patient and persistant.)  Place an ad saying you are looking for a camera person with their own equipment, a sound mixer with their own equipment, and a Gaffer with a portable light kit.  Be specific on the amount of days that you plan to shoot and if and what you are offering to pay.  (Remember, something offered if better than nothing at all.)  Be prepared for legitimate offers and haters email that would make your family blush in embarrassment, if they were to read it  Ignore the Haters.  They rarely will get off their butts to accomplish anything, any way, where as Filmmakers make it happen.
  9. Once you have found a crew and your actors, make sure you can get everybody to the right place at the right time.  Get a ice chest and load with peanut butter, jelly, bread, cookies, fruit, water and drinks.  Stuff you would like to feed everyone and remember  that even if you are a vegan or you do not eat snacks the people working on the film might.  Choose accordingly.  Just saying, ait.
  10. When they all agree, pat yourself on the back.  Getting agreement between crew and talent rarely happens but sometimes you get lucky, especially when just starting out.  The day or two before the shoot, have your actors do a "read", meaning they read the script.  Make sure they know their lines, no script in their hands when shooting.
  11. If you have a freind that works in makeup or at a beauty salon, see if they want credit for helping you make a movie, if not, tell everyone to come "Camera ready."
  12. Arrive early, because sometimes the best shots you get are when the day is just starting and the noise levels around you are low. 
  13. Shooting your exterior shots and establishing shots first, then your two shots, followed over the shoulders, close up, extreme closeup and finally your trick shots.  Next follow the same procedure for the interior shots, except at the end of the shoot, take shots of the ambience of the room.  Does the room have a fish tank, a moose on the wall, a bowling trophy, or some other thing that makes this room unique for your set, if so, shoot it.
  14. Take the cards from the camera and the sound and take them to someone who has final cut pro if you do not already have familiarity with the program.  Tell them this is your first movie and that you really need it to shine, while most people in the business tell you not to use royalty free music and sound effects, if its good, use it, if not find someone that will write a piece of music for you..  Offer the final cut guy an editor credit and an associate producer credit, offer the musician a composer credit.
  15. With the master copy, titles and all included, go online to Filmbaby.com and offer it as a downloadable short for sale.  Then take an excerpt (your trailer- make sure you have the website address embedded on the trailer, where people can order your masterpiece). and put it on Youtube.
  16. That done seek out the short film festival and enter it.
  17. Start a new movie but doing exactly the same steps, until you can finance one at a larger budget.  Til then, enjoy, Filmmaker, enjoy.  ,

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