Making a short film is the first step towards your dream of becoming a successful film director in life. Although it is not that simple to make one. It needs apt planing, both creatively as well as financially. A lot of people succeed in proper planing of the creative process of making a film but fail in its financial planing. It is really important to budget your short film properly because the monetary returns from it is very less or negligible. So you as a producer or the director of the short film must know how to save as much money as you can! And you must also know where to spend it right.
A lot of first time short film makers write an amazing script with good story and plot. There is every thing in their script that is needed for a successful film. But sometimes even if the script is brilliant, it is not practical to shoot! Yes ! You need to be practical while writing your script when you are short of money. While writing keep in mind the locations, actors, equipment and how much lights will be needed to implement the script and bring it on the screen. Remember when you are short of money, you have to do ‘Reverse Costing‘. If you write a script which needs resources way out of your limits then you won’t be able to even start your film and all your energy will go waste. It is more important to make a film than not make it because of budget constraints.
If the actors are good, your film is already half made!
Most of the first time film makers make a common mistake while choosing actors for their films. To save money and time they cast their friends and families in the film. These friends and family members rarely know even a thing about acting or have never acted anywhere before. They come on board just for the glamour of it and eventually make the work of the director more difficult. The director have to spend more energy and time to train these people which most of the time is of no help.
So it is very important to cast the right actors. If you do not have money to pay, no problem. Do not cast your friends and family in your film. Instead cast someone who has done some acting in front of the camera or in theater. There are lot of Theater groups around in your city where you will find many aspiring actors who will work for you free of cost. Go there and talk to them. Ask them if they are interested in working with you. You will definitely find the right match for your film’s character.
In case there is no theater group in your city, put a Casting Call on Facebook and Watsapp and take an audition at your home or your friends home. People do turn up for the auditions. Its better to take an audition and find a better actor who matches your vision !
When everyone is on the same page, the team will do wonders!
Chose your crew wisely. When you are short of budget it is important that every one in the team also understand that and is there to work with you with the one and only purpose to make and complete the film. It is the producer’s and the director’s responsibility also to convey this message politely and clearly to their team. Make sure that none of the crew member is doing a favor to you but is voluntarily a part of the team. You should be clear that how much will you be able to pay them for their services and if not then request them to work for free. But do not keep your team in dark. And do not forget to show Gratitude to your team and be thankful to them for giving their precious time to your film. Put SPECIAL THANKS in the credits of the film and put all the names of the people who has done or given anything to you for free.
Now when you are selecting the members of your team it is important that the team members know their jobs properly. Every one should know the work assigned to them. It is also important to select a multi tasking team where every team member is ready to do any work in the film. It should not happen that the camera man is not ready to do any other work or the director is not ready to do art work. Remember – No one but everyone is the boss!
Make sure that your team is not big because as a producer of the short film the least you will be expected is to provide food and transport to your crew. So the bigger the crew more will be the daily expense. So instead make a small team but a strong, dedicated and multi tasking team where a team of 5 people can do the work of 20 people.
CAMERA, LIGHTS & EQUIPMENTS
Its the cook and not the cooker that makes a delicious food!
Always keep in mind that which camera or lights or which shooting equipment are you using will not make any difference if your story, your actors and your direction is bad. So put more attention to your story, actors and direction. If you are short of money then do not spend much on camera. Borrow a DSLR camera from your friend or family. Even an entry level DSLR camera shoots good HD videos now days with good video quality. You can even shoot your short film with the Mobile Phones if you can not even afford a DSLR camera. Now days all mobile phones have good quality video recording and records in HD as well as Full HD formats.
When you shoot in mobile its easy to shoot. People will not bother you when you are shooting outside thinking you are just shooting a normal mobile video. It will save a lot of your headache.
When you are shooting a no budget short film try to shoot as much in the natural light where artificial lights are not required. The cheapest way is to use Thermocol reflectors to light up the face of the actors. If you don’t have a professional light then you can use the 100 watts bulb and cut the lights with the card board or the cutters.
There are lot of ways in which you can save money on the lights and equipment. But remember do not over do it. Spend where it is necessary to spend. Do not compromise on the things which can not and should not be compromised. The trick is to maintain a balance so that you make a film without spending much from your pocket.
Piyush Pande Films.