Tuesday, June 20, 2006

More Low Budget Filmmaking Hints

One of the best reasons to have a great script is that it will give people a reason to work on your film for free.

Anything can be fixed if you have a time machine and a gun. If you don't, it's best to do things properly in the first place. If you have no money, it is particularly important that you do things right, because you are too poor to pay someone to fix it.

Don't mix up your shooting formats. Especially, don't mix up your shooting timecode. Pick one frame rate and stick to it. If you don't, you will be sorry, and so will anybody who tries to help you.

Feed your crew. If you don't, the ones who are doing you the biggest favors - that is, the ones who could actually be working for real money - will get pissy. You don't want a pissy crew. Believe me.

Spring for a good microphone. Crappy picture quality, you can pass off as an artistic choice; crappy sound, never. A radio mic, by the way, is not a good microphone. Radio mics are something you use when you're desperate. Also, it's really important where the mic is placed. Don't give the job of holding the boom to the one grip you can spare because he's not smart enough to help with the lights.

Spring for a good camera, too. You can't really get away with crappy picture quality. I just said that because I care more about sound. (Well, actually, you can get away with it. But be sure you mean it - don't shoot crappy picture just because you don't have money. That's not a valid excuse anymore.)

People will do you favors because they like you, they like your project, they want the experience, they're bored, or they expect you to return the favor. I'm just saying.

I've found that when I'm working for free, the person I'm working for tends to act like they own me, like they can always ask for one more thing, one more favor, one more day, one more... something. Same thing if I'm working for a flat fee. If I'm being paid for my time, though, people become a lot more reasonable, and deadlines tend to get met. A little money keeps people honest, especially when they only have a little money - and, as a bonus, the answer to the question, "How can I ever repay you?" becomes obvious.

It's not that poverty necessarily makes you smart, but money does make you stupid. I'm just saying.


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