Making movies (or any kind of video) with little money is always difficult. However, there are 3 things thathave been constant in all the successful low budget film/video projects I have been involved with.
1. Work with your network of friends.
All the projects that I have seen happen smoothly and with a great final result have been produced and post-produced among the creator's (be it producer or director) friends. Of course I'm talking about professional friends (I worked once in a short that the whole cast and all the PA's where family of the director, and had no clue on how to make a film.)
So how do you build this network of friends? You go out and work inother people's projects, some times for free, some times for little money.The bottom line, you cannot expect a professional crew to work with youfor little or no money if you have never done it. Why would they? If theyhave never seen you busting your ass in another set.
2. Put most of the money in the frame (the rest goes to food - a.k.a. keeping the crew happy)
Almost all the independent filmmaker I know skip hiring a Production Designer, or an Art Director or a Costume Designer, or one person who can do all this at once. Everyone thinks they can get away with just a camera and what is available in location. Even so, this isn't going to make your movie stand out! You need visuals, you need a color palette, you need the right prop for the character. Otherwise your movie will look like a bad student film. Make sure costumes, props, set, are in place if you don't want to see your efforts, and your crew's effort go to shit. Makeup, lights, camera, all are equally important. I ask myself the same question for every dollar I allocate: How is this dollar going to look in id="wsWord351">the screen?
The rest of the money should go to making your crew happy and comfortable to be working with you for less than they would usually charge. I worked in a project once that they served for lunch peanut butter sandwiches. YES! I'm not kidding. The producer went upset when one of the grips said something about it. Needless to say two people walked from the project, and the rest stayed there because the DP was a close friend. I haven't seen the final product, I don't even care for it. And I know many people who just lost contact with the director and the producer after the project. And I am talking about key people (DP,
id="wsWord482">Production Designer and Actors)
3. No matter who you are, let your team fly creatively.
This is another one many new producers and directors don't understand: if people are working with you for little money, then let them create something they love. So people have told me that this is not safe for their vision. If you have such a solid vision you should be able to transmit it to your key people, and they should be excited about it and work very hard to accomplish it, because they believe in you. However, if you want to impose a vision to your team, then pay them what their work is worth. Chances are they are bringing some great ideas to the table and you are blocked because you think you have a vision.
Always remember that making a movie/film/video is a collaboration process, and the director or the producer can never get anything done without the help of the whole team. One-man-show is impossible in filmmaking.
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