Low budget film making is one of the greatest tools in the indie filmmaker arsenal. Many of the great filmmakers of our times started out with next to nothing, and in some cases actually nothing, to start their careers.
While those films may look somewhat dated to today’s standards (UHD, 4K, etc) they are an amazing testament to the resourcefulness of the indie filmmaker.
When you have to decide between feeding your crew and paying for that awesome gimbal rig to get the most-awesome-shot-ever-that-will-give-me-an-oscar, you begin to realize that there are alternatives to just about everything.
In all honesty, what you need to film a good movie is a decent camera, amazing audio, proper lighting, and a story worthy of telling.
The two most important things needed to tell a good story is capturing the story (audio / video) and locations. Locations are so important because they establish the world your story lives in and, even though many may not notice the nuances in the background, a quality location can make or break a scene.
Everything else is just details that you’ll either work around along the way or realize you didn’t need it in the first place.
When you’re putting together a low budget film, you need to think on your feet and improvise to get the shot done.
Millions of creatives have found their voices on YouTube and similar platforms, honing their skills and learning how to tell stories with little to no budget. We live in a world where so many avenues and opportunities exist for creative people, telling stories is inexpensive and has a low barrier of entry, so when you are thinking about just starting out make sure you realize that you don’t need millions to tell a good story.
Of course, just because you don’t have millions to spend on a film doesn’t mean you have to TELL people how much you spent.
I think the worst thing you can do is actually tell someone that you spent $5,000 making that epic movie of yours because they’ll automatically associate it with garden variety garbage. Keep the budget to yourself when promoting your film. Sell the sizzle not the steak.
(For anyone out there who has heard that term and have no idea what it means, for film making, it basically means sell the story and not the method of telling the story. Appeal to the audiences emotions and senses. That is, after all, why you’re telling your story … isn’t it?)