Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Budget (or how to fund your film (or how to spend as little money as possible making your film))

Ambition is a good thing but being an ambitious filmmaker can cost you a lot of money. If I want to make a film, I don't feel satisfied enough making one with available resources. I often get told to just make loads of films, keep that ball rolling but it's not that easy for me. I can't motivate myself to do something just for the sake of it. For me, there has to be specific purpose. I won't just go for a drive unless I need to be somewhere, for example, so I won't just make a film spontaneously. I wasn't always like that though. When I was younger, I would randomly make a film, as an activity with friends, with a senseless plot and random tomfoolery. These shorts that we used to make are a source of great embarrassment for my friends who don't take kindly to me talking about them. But still, I could learn a lot from my younger self, during those awkward times growing up. For me, "experimenting" as a teenager meant filming anything with a camera. The main difference these days is, if I start a project I have to finish it, meaning, I have to be sure that I will finish it before I attempt it. Used to, I would just start something without the end goal in mind and often the project would remain incomplete. Naturally, I now do fewer projects these days since the recent compulsion to finish what I started has taken over my life and guided me. 

Anyway, I digress. It's easy to forget that you're not just spending money on props and equipment. You have to pay actors and crew. Okay, so you can get people to work on your film for expenses and food only but this still costs you money. Personally, I would not make a film without paying my cast and crew. I know how frustrating it is to work for experience and exposure so the philanthropist in me feels obliged to help people out. In my first year at university, the lecturer showed us this triangle where each point was labelled with "Good idea, time and money". He then said, if you have two of these points then you can make a great film. Okay, so it's probably more complicated than that but it's a good starting point. So, for me, money is a major constraint which means I have to make do with good idea and time. The two complement each other, somewhat. If you have a lot of time, no looming deadline for example, then you can formulate your idea and write a great story. With all that time, you can also save up money and gradually build your film up from scratch. Patience and commitment is important under these circumstances and it becomes very easy to give up. You spend a little bit of money here and there, while working your day job (or jobs) then it all adds up. 

So what I am going to do over the next few months, is share my methodology for producing a movie and saving money wherever possible, hopefully helping other people in a similar situation. I have numerous documents on my computer where I have attempted to write up a proposal to use for a indie go go or kick starter campaign but I thought screw it. It won't work for me if I have a load of money suddenly thrown at me. Granted, it might be different for other people but part of me likes the challenge, the struggle and the uncertainty. As some people tell me, "beg, borrow and steal" basically do whatever is necessary to get something done. Obviously, don't steal but you get what I mean. Why not take on the role of DOP as well as director? Why pay someone to make music for your film when you can learn to do it yourself? Think of the satisfaction! There's no excuse not to these days with the internet and its ever expanding well of resources. Can't afford certain equipment? Buy second hand or borrow. Again, use the internet to find cheaper alternatives. For example, with YouTube, you can assess the suitability of certain equipment by watching reviews or examples of someone else's work and then make your mind up about a camera that shoots pro looking footage and is cheaper than the camera you originally considered. But remember, as long as you have your great idea and time then it'll be fine.     

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