THE 1-WEEK FEATURE FILM (No-Budget Filmmaking Facts)

NO-BUDGET FILMMAKING: The Budget, The Script, The Shoot, The Crew & 1 Hot Tip.

(1) THE BUDGET: $10,000-$50,000

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(“”El Mariachi”, “Clerks”, “Saw”, “Tangerine” were successful No-Budget Movies that launched careers.”)

For your first independent feature film (independent as in “you are independent of the studio system”) you will have a budget of $10,000-$50,000.

QUESTION: Why?

ANSWER: Because once you stop talking like low-budget is only $1-2, $2-3 or $3-5 Million and realize that $10K-$50K is a lot of money and that, at the most, that is what you might procure for your first project.

QUESTION: Why?

ANSWER: Because neither you, nor your parents, are wealthy and in real life (as in food, insurance, car payment, etc.) you’re concerned much more with your share of rent and utilities on the apartment you’re sharing or, at the best, a mortgage payment and property taxes that are both due in 12 days.

Thus $10,000 to $50,000 is what you, a first-time Filmmaker, Director or Producer, will realistically (just my opine) have access to (still ain’t gonna be easy) to demonstrate your talent by making a movie… that also makes a profit.

Now, with $10K to $50K as your 1st movie’s budget, let’s address some basic points of Micro-Budget Filmmaking

 

(2) THE SCRIPT: 90-Pages (1-Location)

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(“For a Micro-Budget Film to gain recognition it is almost 100% dependent on the script.”)

With $10-50K to make your first movie your script must be between 85-95 pages with 40-50 scenes, all set in one location (a Bar, a Hotel, a Campground, a Bus, etc.), with unique characters defined by their dialogue, with 3 subplots that all come to a super crisis (aka: “cut-to-the-chase”) collission around scene 35-45, with a satifying resolution around scene 38-48 with, just prior to or during the Rear Title Crawl, an Epilogue.

Another choice is to write a script about an incident that occured in real-time… What happened during 90-minutes in the courtroom judge’s chambers or what happened during 90-minutes in the women’s bathrooom at the White House when Hillary discovered what Bill was doing with Monica or…

 

(3) THE SHOOT: 1-Week (7-9 Days)

You have enough money to hire a DP with a 4K camera package or rent a 4K camera package, along with paying for an experienced soundman, with his/her own equipment, for 1-week.

1-Week. 1-Week. 1-Week.

“If they shoot a 60-minute tv show in 60-minutes you can make a 90-minute movie in 1-week.”

Thus, the shoot is a 1-Week Shoot likely over 2 weekends. This becomes a 9-Day Shoot, with a 90-Page Script and a Shooting Schedule of 10 Pages/Day.

Assuming 24 hours in a day, with 12 hours of daylight, your minimal crew & actors arrive at set (aka: Call Time) at about 1-hour after daylight. Then allow 1-hour for a lunch break during the day. This leaves only 10-hours of Daylight for directing the 10 pages each day.

Thus you shoot at a pace of 1 Page every hour and with this minimal amount of time, you will only get a Key and Backs for Lighting, with the shots directed (aka: Coverage) being 80% Masters, 10% Mediums, 5% Closeups and 5% Establishing Shots.

Your work days, to include night, will be 15-18 hours.

Wakeup DAY-1 at 5:00am. Set 1st Call (Sunrise) & Coffee at 6:ooam. 1st Shot at 7:00am. Lunch at 1:00pm. Last shot (Sunset) at 7:00pm. Wrap at 8:00pm. M&D (Missing & Damaged) at 8:30p. Organize for tomorrow at 9:00pm. Home at 10:30pm. Sleep at 11:30pm. WAKE-UP DAY-2 at 5:00am… WAKE-UP DAY-3… WAKE-UP DAY-4…

“And people call this art”.

 

(4) THE CREW: DP (5-7 Assistants)

You will have a 5-7 person crew (they’re actually paid) and another 3-5 people (22-year old film school grads, with pickup trucks & vans..you pay for gas) at the shoot everyday.

Of the 5-7 paid crew be sure to have a qualified Cinematographer/DP/DOP (Director of Photography), who might even own two 4K camera packages (Red is heaven), with an assistant to operate the 2nd camera who is called a “Shooter”. Also, be sure to hire a qualified Soundman (The DP knows many), with his/her own equipment, who comes with an assistant called a Boom Man or Mike Man.

For DP, with Camera package, allocate $1,700 for 1 week. (If DP has no credits on a feature film as DP but numerous credits as Camera Operator or DIT or 1st AC he/she will take the gig, assuming he/she loves the script and you have secured the location for minimum wages to literally acquire his/her 1st Feature Film DP Credit and demonstrate his/her talent.)

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For SoundMan, with equipment, allocate $1,250 for 1 week. (The Soundman will do the shoot at this wage only if he/she knows the DP and is doing the DP a favor. Soundmen don’t care much about the script but do care about location, parking and food.)

 

(5) THE HOT TIP:

Sound. Sound. Sound. No matter how great the script is. No matter how great the acting is. No matter how great the set is. No matter how great the directing is. No matter how great the editing is… If the sound is just mediocre and the audience can’t clearly hear everything… the entire project becomes a waste of time…

Please spend as much time with the soundman as you do with the actors and with the cinematographer.

 

Happy Filmmaking,

Dov Simens / Dean / Hollywood Film Institute

 

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