ULTRA-LOW-BUDGET FILMMAKING (The $100K-$200K,1-Week Shoot)
by Dov S-S Simens on June 16, 2016
THE ULTRA-LOW-BUDGET FEATURE FILM.
$100,000-$200,000? (Low-Budget or Ultra-Low-Budget Filmmaking)
Here’s the assumption: You have $100K-$200K cash sitting in a bank account (don’t know how you got it & don’t care) yelling “spend me, spend me”… And $100K-$200K is more than enough money to Produce a quality Low-Budget, actually Ultra-Low-Budget, Feature Film for you can now afford to plan, budget, schedule and execute a 1-2 week shoot with professional crew.
In a later blog I will show you how to raise $100,000-$200,000 by “selling-the-sizzle not-the-steak”… For in my live “2-Day Film School” on Day-2 (DEALMAKING: FINANCE, DISTRIBUTE & PROFIT) I spend the last 2 hours detailing how to raise $100,000-$200,000, or $200,000-$300,000 or even $300,000-$500,000 by doing what traditional 4-year Film Schools call a Private Placement.
Plus, at my live “2-Day Film School” (September 17-18 or December 10-11), in only 45-minutes, you will instantly know how “Sell-The-Sizzle, Not-The-Steak” and raise $100,000-$200,000, at a minimum, by doing what financiers call a “Dog-n-Pony” show.
Matter of fact, once you learn the “Dog-n-Pony” show, you will think it is so easy, you will likely leave the class instantly to raise the money but first you must ask me the question…. “What if I get the money? How do I spend it?”
Let’s assume you have the cash….
Now how do you spend it to make a better movie.
THE 1-2 WEEK SHOOT:
Hire Professionals not YouTube amateurs who just graduated NYU or USC.
Assuming you have $100,000-$200,000 you can either (A) make a 1-week shoot with pretty good salaries for crew, professional 4K cameras, but working 15-18 hour days or (B) do a 2-week shoot, with lesser salaries but acceptable and better work hours, with excellent food, that lead to an improved production value.
Let’s start with crew (hire experienced professionals) and budget for a 1-wwek Shoot, with a limited location script, no movies and a shooting schedule of 10-12 pages/day.
Plus, you can afford to hire & feed 27-30 people.
This is going to be a real movie.
IMPORTANT POINT NOT TAUGHT AT FILM SCHOOLS: The shorter the actual shoot the easier it is to get a professional crew. Why? Less time to work to get an Opening Title & IMDB Credit… Crew go from job-to-job and they always have 1- 2- or 3-weeks available (fill in time) between their union paying gigs. And crew, like anyone else, are people, with families, debts and mortgages. Thus, they are always looking for gigs and yours, although not paying well, is only a short period.
Crew will go “What the heck” and take the cash gig.
For a 1-week shoot. Individual crew always have time available and will take the gig to (A) get out of the house, (B) make some cash and (C) get another IMDB credit, When you go to a 2-week shoot it is slightly harder to find qualified crew for minimal non-union wages, but you can find them, and for a 3-week shoot it is even harder. If you ever plan to do a 4-week shoot (crew always say, when you are hiring, “Oh 4-weeks. That’s a month. Can’t take the gig”…
But you are only crewing for a 1-week, possibly a 2-week shoot, you will get extremely qualified pros… for nominal wages.
THE LOW-BUDGET (1-2 Week) CREW:
ONE… CINEMATOGRAPHER/DP #1 ($2,000-$3,000): 3-Days Prep and 1-Week Shoot (a former Big-Budget Camera Operator who wants an Indy DP Credit)
TWO… CINEMATOGRAPHER/SHOOTER #2 ($1,000-$1,200): 2-Days Prep and 1-Week Shoot (A former 1st AC who wants to Operate the 2nd Unit Camera)
THREE… ASSISTANT CAMERAMAN/DIT ($500-$800): 1-Day Prep, 1-week Shoot (A former 2nd AC who wants a DIT credit)
FOUR… PRODUCTION MANAGER ($4,000-$5,000): 3 weeks Prep ($1,000/week) and 1-week Shoot ($1,500)
FIVE… PRODUCTION COORDINATOR ($1,500-$2,000): 4-year Film School grad. 2-weeks Prep ($500/week) and 1-week Shoot ($750)
SIX “A”… DIRECTOR ($0): If yourself. What would you pay yourself for directing a short? Answer…$0… Then that is what you pay yourself for Directing your 1st Feature
SIX “B”… DIRECTOR ($5,000-$6,000): A Film School grad, with 3 Film Awards (shorts) at Sundance, Cannes or Toronto who is now 30 years old and mature. 3-weeks Prep ($750/week) & 1-week Shoot ($2,000) and $300-$500/week during Post
SEVEN… ASSISTANT DIRECTOR ($2,000-$3,000): Part of the Director’s Team. A former Script Supervisor/Set Designer. A seasoned pro. 35-40 years old. 1-week Prep ($750) and 1-week Shoot ($1,250)
EIGHT… SCRIPT SUPERVISOR ($1,000-$2,000): Part of the Director’s Team. Works with AD and DP to coordinate shot coverage & script notes for post.
NINE… PRODUCTION DESIGNER ($5,000-$6,000): 4-weeks Prep ($1,000/week), 1-week Shoot ($2,000). The PD will be found by referrals from your DP & PM.
TEN… SET DECORATOR ($2,500-$3,000): The PD will hire him/her. 2-weeks Prep ($750/week) & 1-week Shoot ($1,000)
ELEVEN… ART DIRECTOR/PAINTER ($1,000-$2,000): The PD will hire him/her. An artist. A department store window dresser. 1-week Prep ($7500) & 1-week Shoot ($800)
TWELVE… SOUNDMAN ($3,000): Flat Deal for 2-days Prep & 1-week Shoot (he/she comes with all sound equipment needed)
THIRTEEN… BOOM/MIKE ($1,000): Flat Deal. Comes with Soundman
FOURTEEN… GAFFER/LIGHTING DIRECTOR ($5,000): Flat Deal. He comes with his Independent 3-Ton Lighting Truck (Lights, Cables, Generator)
FIFTEEN… BEST BOY ELECTICIAN/GEREATOR ($1,500): Comes with 3-Ton Lighting Truck ($500 Prep & $1,000 Shoot). Someone needs to know Power/Electricity
SIXTEEN… KEY GRIP ($2,500-$3,000): Has worked with your DP & Gaffer. 1-week Prep ($1,000) and 1-week Shoot ($2,000)
SEVENTEEN… DOLLY GRIP ($2,000): He is part of your Key Grip’s team. 3-Day Prep ($600-$900), 1-week Shoot ($1,000) & 1-day Wrap ($100-$400)
EIGHTEEN… BEST BOY GRIP ($1,500): You’ll need a plumber/carpenter, with tool box, on the set. He’s part of Key Grip’s Team. 1-week Prep ($500) & 1-week Shoot ($1,000)
NINETEEN… HAIR/MAKEUP KEY ($2,000-$3,000): Starts after casting. 2-weeks Prep ($750/week) & 1-week Shoot ($1,000)
TWENTY… HAIR/MAKEUP #2 ($1,500-$2,000): A recent graduate of Cosmetology School. First job in movie. 2-week Prep ($250-$350/week) and 1-week Shoot ($500)
TWENTY ONE… WARDROBE KEY ($2,000-$3,000): Like Hair/Makeup this person hired after Casting. 2-weeks Prep ($750/week) & 1-week Shoot ($1,000)
TWENTY TWO… WARDROBE #2 ($1,000-$1,500): Recent graduate of Fashion School. Wants to be a stylist. Knows how to sew & shop. 3-weeks Prep & Shoot ($300-$400/week)
TWENTY THREE… PRODUCTION ASSISTANT #1 ($1,500): Will be assigned to Director’s team 4-weeks at $300-$350/week. Comes with a SUV auto.
TWENTY FOUR… PRODUCTION ASSISTANT #2 ($1,500): Will become the Craft Service. Pre-production “Gofer” and Buys & prepares Breakfast & snacks. Comes with a SUV auto.
TWENTY FIVE… PRODUCTION ASSISTANT #3 ($1,500): Will be assigned to Producer’s Team. Oversees Paperwork, Call Sheets & Production Reports
TWENTY SIX… GOFER/INTERN #1 ($500): Comes with a Van or Pickup. Paid $100/week, Food & Credit
TWENTY SEVEN… GOFER/INTERN #2 ($500): Comes with a Van or Pickup. Paid $100/week, Food & Credit.
You are no longer doing a dressed-up amateur shoot hoping that passion, desire and wishful thinking pulls you through for, with $100,000-$200,00, you have more than enough money to hire a 27-30 Professional Crew (paying nominal non-union wages) and you can make a movie, with a 27 man/woman qualified crew.
Plus, crew salaries for a 3-week Prep & 1-week Shoot are only $54,000-$66,000 (true?)… and you have $100,000-$200,000.
Now, what are you going to do with the remaining $46,000-$134,000?
WRAPUP: THE LOW-B or ULTRA-LOW-B FEATURE FILM.
With $100-200K in cash… You, when interviewed, will call your movie either a Low-Budget or Ultra-Low-Budget Feature Film.
You will call it Low-Budget (“Just under $1 Million) when trying to sell it and or get a distributor.
You will call it Ultra-Low-Budget (Just under $100,000) when you are hiring crew and securing equipment.
Welcome to Hollywood.
Point, I’m actually making is that once you go over $100,000, whether you call it Low-B or Ultra-Low B, you have more than enough money to hire pros.
Plus, don’t forget that the above salaries includes a 3-Ton Lighting/Grip truck with Generator, a Soundman with all Audio Equipment needed and 5 PAs & Gofers with 3-4 pickups, vans or small trucks.
This is cool.
Plus, with the remaining $46,000-$134,000 you have enough money to get a name (tv name only) or throw in 30-40 Visual Effects or coordinate 3-4 locations (remember you now have a seasoned pro crew), or attempt a Martial Arts film as good as the 1-location Indonesian flick “RAID: REDEMPTION”, which has now become a studio franchise…
The possibilities and options of what you can do with this added $46K-$134K are limitless and you have now (congratulations) entered the world of low-budget filmmaking.
Dov S-S Simens / Dean / Hollywood Film Institute
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