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How to Make a Movie Cheaply - Low Budget

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How to Make a Movie Cheaply - Low Budget

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This is the Ultimate Filmmaking Guide.Have you always wanted to make a film but just never had enough moolah? Worry not, this e-guide will help you along your impoverished way.

This is the Ultimate Filmmaking Guide.Have you always wanted to make a film but just never had enough moolah? Worry not, this e-guide will help you along your impoverished way.

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How to Make a Movie Cheaply - Low Budget

  1. 1. AISFM 1
  2. 2. Admissions NOW OPEN! at Annapurna Studios Road No. 2, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad 500 034 India +91 40 49141234 info@aisfm.edu.in www.aisfm.edu.in Medium of instruction is English For more details call: +91 7893752225 © Copyright 2014, AISFM. All Rights Reserved Annapurna International School of Film + Media, Hyd. Contents Chapter 1 �3 So you want to make a movie, eh? �3 Top tip �3 Chapter 2 �4 Do you have an idea? �4 Top tip �4 Chapter 3 �5 Well, you do need a script �5 10 Rules of screenwriting �5 Chapter 4 �6 Create a storyboard �6 Simplify the storyboard �6 Chapter 5 �7 Get people to work for food! �7 Chapter 6 �8 Make your own sets �8 Chapter 7 �9 The cheapest cameras for indie filmmakers �9 Chapter 8 �11 Rig your own lights �11 Awesome tips �11 Chapter 9 �13 Shoot it like you hurt it �13 Chapter 10 �14 Edit for free, yes for free! �14 Chapter 11 �15 Flog it like it’s a dead horse �15
  3. 3. So you want to make a movie, eh? After months, if not years, of procrastination, you’ve finally decided to make your very own short film. You feel great, your parents and/or partner are ready to disown you and your friends are either facepalming you on Facebook or itching for a role. Either way, you’re ready to rumble, but wait…what’s that? You’ve got no money? Worry not, there are ways to make a short on a budget that’s so small even shoestrings are embarrassed to be seen next to it. You’ve taken your first step towards fame, or infamy, now it’s time to get things in order so you can make like Gigli and…. 3 AISFM Top tip Have a “home base” location during production. When you’re filming, much time is lost to loading in and wrapping out. When you need to shoot 5, 6, 7, or even 8 pages a day, you will rue the time your crew spends lugging c-stands up a four-story walk-up. Write one primary location into the script. Somewhere you can shoot (for free) for perhaps half of your shoot days. The shoot days spent here will be walk-aways. You can pre-light. If you’re lucky, you can even use this spot during prep as your production office/rehearsal space/wardrobe and art staging. Chapter 1
  4. 4. Chapter 2 Do you have an idea? If you’re going into this project with nary a thought in your large skull, then you’ve got serious issues, so make sure you have an idea. Is your film going to be a drama, comedy, horror, documentary, thriller, saucy teaser? Decide now and forever hold your peace. If you’re having trouble deciding, think about the films you and your friends like to watch. That’s usually a good indicator of the path you should tread. Top tip There’s no excuse for bad production values. In today’s world of $3,000 pro-sumer cameras which produce images that look shockingly good, there’s no excuse for a movie that looks like crap. People always come out of my work-in-progress screenings bowled over by how good/big/real the movie looks. If you’re going to go through the tremendous effort of making a feature, it had better look and feel like a “real” movie. AISFM 4
  5. 5. Chapter 3 Well, you do need a script Once you’ve got the basic plot in your head you need to convert it to a script, or screenplay if you want to be really fancy. Log on to the Web and go through the scripts of some of the movies you’ve enjoyed. Figure out how they construct it and go for it. You may not get it right the first time but at least you’ve given it the good old college try. If you feel you’re just not up to the task, find a friend or family member who’s a reasonably good writer and ask them to help you out. If they’re really close ask them to do the whole shebang for free. 5 AISFM 10 Rules of screenwriting 1. All beds have special L-shaped sheets that reach up to the armpit level on a woman, but only to waist level on the man lying beside her. 2. If you need to reload your gun, you will always have more ammunition, even if you weren’t carrying any before now. 3. You’re very likely to survive any battle in any war, unless you make the mistake of showing someone a picture of your sweetheart back home. 4. A man will show no pain while taking the most ferocious beating, but will wince when a woman tries to clean his wounds. 5. When paying for a taxi, don’t look at your wallet as you take out a bill - just grab one at random and hand it over. It will always be the exact fare. 6. Kitchens don’t have light switches. When entering a kitchen at night, you should open the fridge door and use that light instead. 7. Medieval peasants had perfect teeth. 8. Any person waking from a nightmare will sit bolt upright and pant. 9. Even when driving down a perfectly straight road, it is necessary to turn the steering wheel vigorously from left to right every few moments. 10. All bombs are fitted with electronic timing devices with large red readouts so you know exactly when they’re going to go off.
  6. 6. AISFM 6 Chapter 4 Create a storyboard Once you’ve got the script done and dusted you’ve got to come up with a storyboard, which will help you during the shooting process. “A film storyboard is essentially a large comic of the film or some section of the film produced beforehand to help film directors, cinematographers and television commercial advertising clients visualize the scenes and find potential problems before they occur. Besides this storyboards also help estimate the cost of the overall production and saves time. Often storyboards include arrows or instructions that indicate movement.” Got that? Whew! If you find it hard to draw a cheque then find someone who can at least put together handsome stick figures and get them to do it…for free! Simplify the storyboard Keep visuals simple Your goal is to be understandable and complicated visuals may work against you. Everything that appears on the screen should be there for a reason. Focus on the big picture It’s easy to get caught up in the details of every scene. You’ll have time to work through them before or during production. In the beginning it’s important to keep your eye on the overall story and how the big ideas fit together. Once you get that right, the details will be easier to manage. Look for visual metaphors or themes Some of the best videos have a visual theme--a visual or symbol that is woven into the video across multiple scenes. Having a theme can help the video feel cohesive and unique. Beware screenshots and interfaces Always remember that your video wants to live forever. One change to a product’s design can make a video look out-of-date. To avoid this, use symbolic versions of products, websites and interfaces. Keep it simple. This can help the video remain evergreen, even if designs change. Use text sparingly Unlike a conversation, you have only one chance to deliver your points to the viewer in a video. Use too many on-screen words and you may lose them. Remember that the beauty of video is the combination of visuals and voice. I recommend using visuals that support the words in the script and create a package that appeals to both the eyes and the ears.
  7. 7. 7 AISFM Chapter 5 Get people to work for food! Now you’ll need a cast and crew, basically someone to hold stuff, and get things while you dominate your underlings like they’re Egyptian slaves and you’re the Pharaoh of Fun. Almost everyone harbours some dreams of working in the film industry so it shouldn’t be too hard to muster some actors who can’t wait to see their name up in lights, even if they’re just strip lights in some damp room. As for the crew, plunder your family and friend circle for feeble-minded saps, or mildly-talented egomaniacs who you can massage into doing all the work for free. You must have • Someone to actually film the movie. Call them the Director of Photography and they’ll be happy as mud. • Someone to do your actors’ hair and make-up (if that’s what you need, you could always do it au natural. • A Production Assistant to make sure everything’s going according to schedule and no one’s spending all that money you do not have. • A Sound Designer. Basically someone who knows how to handle a sound mixer and can differentiate between bad and good sound. Look for a friend who’s done a bit of DJaying, everyone knows one of those. • A Man/Girl Friday who can manage the lights and pick up all the stuff that’s too heavy for your dainty hands. So there you have it, if you these five then you’re all set to shake, rattle, and ROLL!
  8. 8. Chapter 6 Make your own sets If you want to have custom sets then it would be great if you had friends who were adept at carpentry, tailoring, etc. Making your own sets is cost-effective, but it also means you can design pretty much anything that can be created from the materials on hand. It also lends your sets a community feel, which makes everyone feel all gooey inside…till the first splinter mind. AISFM 8
  9. 9. 9 AISFM Chapter 7 Beg, borrow, or steal equipment…or buy cheap stuff Don’t worry if you don’t have a RED Dragon camera, or a Black Magic. There are loads of much cheaper options out there, and should all those fail just use your mobile phone. The cheapest cameras for indie filmmakers Pentax K-x ($485) The Pentax K-x is a camera that has captured my interest for some time now due to its low price tag. The DSLR independent filmmaking revolution has blown the lid off every aspect of independent filmmaking. DSLR cameras are often used in the production of web series, music videos, and have even been used to shoot the opening of Saturday Night Live. These types of cameras produce images that often rival traditional film based cameras by shooting at the same frame rate and producing a depth of field. The Pentax K-x is one of these stunning cameras. Canon T2i ($600) The Canon T2i is one of the most popular cameras among both independent filmmakers and photographers alike. The camera owes much of its success to it’s brand and high quality. Canon is one of the most trusted camera manufacturers in the world and provides great support for each of their products including the Canon T2i. The Canon T2i is available at just about every electronics store and features a sensor that is able to capture great looking images in low light situations.
  10. 10. Canon VIXIA HV30 ($650) The difference between the Canon VIXIA HV3o and the first two cameras on this list is the fact that its primary purpose is actually to shoot video. The Canon VIXIA HV 30 does not support interchangeable lenses but this small drawback can easily be overcome with the use of various camera attachments and wide angle conversion lenses. Nikon D90 ($900) The Nikon D90 is very favorable among many because its ease of use and lightning quick start up times. The camera is equipped with Nikon‘s world famous DX-format CMOS sensor that allows the camera to interpret light in an efficient manner. Sony HDR-CX360V ($800) Sony is one of the most recognizable names when it comes to electronics and never disappoints when a new camera hits the shelves. The Sony HDR-CX360V is a great camera for casual indie filmmakers. AISFM 10
  11. 11. Chapter 8 Rig your own lights Lights can be a real pain in the butt and if you’re planning on renting them then they can be pretty expensive. But there are ways to inexpensively rig your own light set up. Awesome tips Worklights A good key light for cheap is a 500 watt tungsten work light which can be found at hardware and car parts stores. They come with their own stands, but I do find the stands a little short. There’s some power here, but it’s hard to control, so I recommend that you don’t aim them directly at your actors. Bounce them off a wall or ceiling to create a nice soft light. If you want, you can put them outside windows and blast them through the openings. These lights can get hot, so be careful moving them around. I’ve found them as cheap as $10 and can run up to $30. They can be found with two heads that makes 1000 watts of lights. How about a shower curtain as difussion One thing you can do is get a frosted shower curtain and hang it from a stand and then place the shower curtain in front of one of these babies to create a wall of soft light. Again, don’t get too close otherwise your melt a hole in your pretty shower curtain. China Lanterns China Lanterns are great. I’ve seen them on the sets of movies costing many millions of dollars. They are paper material which can be expanded into a ball (and now different shapes like squares, rectangles and ovals). They come with a wire support for the bulb. You need to get a socket 11 AISFM and cable and they are usually sold in the same place you find the lanterns. I put a regular 200 watt bulb inside and they make a great softlight for close-ups. If the lantern’s big enough, I’ll put two 200 watt bulbs in and I can light a small room with them. Be careful with them because they’re made of paper and can burst into flames. They run between $3 - $7 depending on size. If you’re handy, you can pick up a socket and some zip cord, otherwise known as household extension cord, and make your own cord for the china lantern.
  12. 12. Sealed Beam Halogen Then you have small sealed beam halogen lamps which cost around $4-$10. You put these in a socket and then clamp them onto a stand, then aim away. It makes a great kicker/backlight and are great for light special items in the background. They come in different beam patterns, from narrow to wide. I tend to go for the medium and narrow. The wide is, well, too wide of a beam. Scoops The old reliable metal scoop light which comes with a handy clamp is a great option. Pop a 200 watt bulb or a photo flood in it to light your set. Supposedly this is what Robert Rodriguez used to light “El Mariachi”. Reflectors When you’re without power you can always use some reflectors to get light on your subject. On a pro set, a shiny board is the tool, but they cost many hundreds of dollars. He’s a cheap substitute, Tyvek. Tyvek you ask? It’s household insulating foam board, but the cool thing is it’s coated with a shiny foil outside which can reflect a ton of light. If you need to fill in some actor or pound some light through window onto your set, Tyvek or some other insulation will do the trick. A cool portable reflector is those fold up windshield covers that are coated in silver material. A pro flex fill runs $50 and the windshield covers can run under $10. Finally, if you’re in a pinch, just coat a hunk of foam core with aluminum foil, remember to crinkle it up some so it’s not too sharp with its’ reflected light, and you have a great fill light. AISFM 12
  13. 13. 13 AISFM Chapter 9 Shoot it like you hurt it It’s now time to shoot. Make sure you’ve read every direction book in town and also scoured YouTube for all those cool tutorials. Remember to communicate at all times with your DoP and your Sound Designer to make sure that you’ll are all on the same page and both sound and picture quality is acceptable. Use your storyboard and let your actors know exactly what you expect from them so that there’s minimal faffing about. Keep an eye on your schedule, because although you may feel you need at least six years to realize your vision, you probably have more like six hours, so get with the programme. Above all keep it simple!
  14. 14. Chapter 10 Edit for free, yes for free! Ask any editor and they’ll tell you you need swanky, singing-dancing software that would cost as much as a tasteful funeral. You really don’t. Check out these two cheap-as-chips options: Pinnacle Studio 16 Ultimate ($63) The new Pinnacle Studio is vastly more impressive than its predecessor, because it’s based on the higher-end Avid Studio rather than on its nominal predecessor. I have no problem giving it a very high rating— Corel has taken the good interface and toolset of Avid Studio and gotten it right, with good performance, new helpful tools, and more output options. It really has all the tools any sophisticated amateur video editor would need. Corel VideoStudio Pro X6 ($80) No product in this category offers everything. VideoStudio is PowerDirector’s equal (and better than Premiere Elements and Sony Movie Studio) when it comes to multi-trim clip editing. It’s also more stable than most other apps, which occasionally stop responding. But the real reason to get VideoStudio is for its one-of-a-kind tools like stop-motion, HTML5 output, and motion tracking effects. AISFM 14
  15. 15. Chapter 11 Flog it like it’s a dead horse You’ve finally finished post-production. Most of your cast and crew’s still alive, and now it’s time to make sure someone apart from your friends and family actually watch the film. Here are some cracking tips to get your movie out there without reaching for your wallet. Short titles and hashtags The titles of your articles and posts should be short and snappy. If you are posting on Twitter, try and use less than 120 characters to allow readers to mention them in a Re Tweet. Vine Vine videos – the 6 second movie clips generated by the vine app on Twitter are a really cheap and fun way to make sparkling and viral content for your website. Download Vine. Research existing Vine videos. Use it. Festival screenings There are four main reasons to attend a film festival with your film, the 15 AISFM main one to create awareness of your film hopefully leading to a sale. While you are at a film festival make the most of it. Network with other filmmakers and see what tips you can pick up from them. Trailers Trailers are another essential part of the process. Probably the best way is to create a Youtube channel and use the Youtube link on all your other social media platforms. Get a snazzy animated logo (for free) and decide what lower thirds you are going to use and presto. Blogs Your blog is an essential tool. You can use it to archive and store important production data and keep track of how you are feeling about your project as it lurches from meeting to meeting, and mishap to mishap. Throughout of course, you will be able to write over and over again how you managed to solve insurmountable problems that would swamp those of lesser ability.
  16. 16. Backed by Industry legends Located in a working lm studio 22 acre campus India’s rst non-prot private lm school International faculty and management +91 40 4914 1234 info@aisfm.edu.in www.aisfm.edu.in AISFM 16

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