NO-BUDGET FILM MAKING (The $10,000 MOVIE, The 1-Week Shoot & 1 Hot Tip)

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

Got $10,000 to $30,000? Can you get $10,000 to $30,000? Then don’t make a short… make a movie.

Last month’s and last week’s posts were about producing a Low-Budget (3-Week Shoot) feature film for $200-300K and a Micro-Budget (2-Week Shoot) feature film for $50-$100K…

Now, being realistic and assuming you will only have $10-30K to make your first feature film and understanding Do’s & Don’ts for a 3-Week and/or 2-Week shoot let’s focus on a No-Budget feature film… a 1-Week Shoot.


(1) REALISTIC BUDGET: $10,000-$30,000


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


Realistically, for your first feature film, you will quite likely have a budget of $10,000-$30,000.


ANSWER: Because once you stop talking like low-budget is only $1-2, $2-3 or $3-5 Million, and fantasizing that the studio system will finance you because you have an idea and realize that $10-30K is a lot of money (is your mortgage or rent paid this month) you might produce your first project.


ANSWER: Because neither you, nor your parents, are wealthy and $10-30K is still very hard to achieve.

Thus $10,000 to $30,000 is what you, a first-timer, will realistically (just my opine) have access to to demonstrate your talent by making a movie that profits.

Now, assuming you can procure $10K to $30K (still not easy), let’s address basic No-Budget Film Making points.


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


(“For a No-Budget Film to gain recognition it is almost 100% dependent on the script.”)


Thus, with only $10-30K to make your first movie your script must be (A) between 85-95 pages with 50-60 scenes, all (B) set in one location (a Bar, a Hotel, a Campground, a Bus, etc.), with (C) unique characters defined by their dialogue, with (D) 3 subplots that all (E) come together (aka: “cut-to-the-chase”) around scene 45-55, with a (F) satisfying resolution around scene 48-58, just prior to or during the Rear Title Crawl, and an (G) Epilogue.

Another choice is to write a 85-95 page script that occurs in real-time of 85-95 minutes… What happened during 90-minutes in the courtroom judge’s chambers or what happened during 90-minutes in the women’s bathroom at the White House when Hillary discovered what Bill was doing with Monica or…

No-Budget script must be simple-to-shoot… 90-pages, 1-location!


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

With $10-30K you have just 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…

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


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

Thus, the production is a 1-Week Shoot likely over 2 weekends, which is 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) and commence shooting at about 1-hour after daylight. Then allowing 1-hour for a lunch break, 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 time, you will light with one Key and two Backs, with coverage, the shots directed being 80% Masters, 10% Mediums, 5% Closeups and 5% Establishing Shots.

Your work days, to include night, will be 15-18 hours and a typical day is…

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

Repeat (DAY-2): Wake-Up (5:00am)… Sleep (11.30pm)

Repeat (DAY-3): Wake-Up (5:00am)… Sleep (11:30pm)

Repeat (DAY-4): Wake-Up (5:00am)… Sleep (11:30pm)

“Got it… 15-18 hour work days… And people call this art”.


(4) REALISTIC CREW: 8-12 (5-7 Keys & 3-5 Assistants)

You will have an 8-12 person crew consisting of 5-7 keys (they’re paid) and another 3-5 (22-year old film school grads, with pickup trucks & pay for gas) at the shoot everyday.

Of the 5-7 paid crew be sure to have a qualified Cinematographer/DP (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 along with a Production Designer.

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 he/she will take the gig to literally acquire his/her 1st Feature Film DP Credit)


(“When hiring crew for a No-Budget shoot never forget how important the soundman is.“)


For Soundman, with equipment, allocate $1,250 for 1 week. (The Soundman will do the shoot at minimal wage only if he/she knows the DP, who gets him/her jobs, and has no work next week… as a favor for the DP.) 

FYI: Soundmen don’t care about the script but care about location, parking and food.



Sound. Sound. Sound.

Yes I am harping on sound for you truly have no idea how important sound is…

Here’s why: (1st) No matter how great the script is. (2nd) No matter how great the acting is. (3rd) No matter how great the set is. (4th) No matter how great the directing is. (5th) No matter how great the editing is… If the sound is just mediocre… the entire project sucks…

Please spend as much time with the soundman as you do with actors, writers, investors and cinematographer…. P-l-e-a-s-e.


Enjoy your 2019 Film Career

Dov Simens




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8 comments on “NO-BUDGET FILM MAKING (The $10,000 MOVIE, The 1-Week Shoot & 1 Hot Tip)”

  1. Peter says:

    Sound. Sound. Sound.

    They say, sound is the 50% of the film….

  2. Natalie Green says:

    Wow!!! Thank you!! Email me more for other interesting helpful idea’s and more!!!

  3. Natalie says:

    Well yeaah

  4. Isaac Regalado says:

    Thank you…really appreciate this..

  5. I have been searching for something like this, seeing as I’m doing my research on it, this has been helpful… thank you.

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  8. Henry Larry says:

    Your practical approach to filmmaking on a shoestring budget is refreshing. The emphasis on a tight script a focused 1 week shoot and the crucial role of sound is a great guide for aspiring filmmakers. Looking forward to putting these principles into action.
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