Thursday 29 September 2011

Writing To Budget: Make Opportunities Out Of Limitations

You hear people say things like "I'd never shoot on anything less than a Canon 5D" or "I only work with a Red camera". While it is exciting to work with great cameras, you may find you can't afford them. Even when you can afford the rental fees, it may be that your editing system cannot handle the files.

These limitations are often daunting for new filmmakers -- but I'm here to say, don't let it stop you making a film.

Nobody wants to shoot on DV any more. People look down on it. They shot "Once" and "28 Days Later" on Mini-DV. If it's good enough for John Carney and Danny Boyle, I'm sure you'll be fine with your short movie.

Sure, maybe you want the cinematic look you get with the Red, or the beautiful crispness you get with a 5D. But this is a post for those who don't have those privileges right at this moment.

The Indie filmmaking wisdom is, of course, "shoot with whatever you can get your hands on". This is great advice but you need to take it in the right way. Most people hear that as "do the best you can" -- but I think you need to see it more as: "this is a wonderful opportunity!"

You or someone you know has a video phone. That's good enough to get started and make some films.

Here's a tip: don't pretend it's a film camera. Don't try to hide the fact you have no crew. Instead, embrace what you have and make it part of your story.

Here's some ideas off the top of my head that could inspire ideas for a smartphone-video film.

-The world is about to end and two friends decide to capture the final moments.

-Two women, for fun, decide to document their dating lives with video diaries.

-A couple staying in a hotel are convinced it's haunted, so they film happenings on their phones.

-A kid decides to secretly film his parent's marriage difficulties.

They are just ideas. Let's look at the last one; a kid films his parents arguing. The story could be the same as a bigger budget film about divorce, but filmed with just a phone it'll have a rawness and truthfulness. Plus it's filmed from the point of view of the child, which could be heartbreaking.

If you like horror, look at Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity, those types of ideas you can film on your phone.

Same goes for any camera. What if all you have is your Uncle's old camera which has a broken lense? Use it! Make up a story where the characters document what happened using a broken camera.

These restraints are wonderful opportunities to overcome limitations. Use your imagination!

Films are made everyday on big beautiful cameras. But guess what? A lot of them are BAD. Equipment quality has nothing to do with how good you are at telling a story.

So go tell a story.

Care to share?

1 comment:

  1. yeah. There's this Spanish film called 'rec' , I watched the english dubbed version of it. The whole films from the point of view of a cameraman and a reporter who came to record a show.

    #Itishorrorful and IamnotjokingwhenIsayitishorror