How to make a movie with No-Budget: Production Aspects
Updated: Dec 11, 2021
An Analysis by Colored Glasses On Team
In Consideration with the previous article covered the pre-production aspects of shooting a film on no budget. It was primarily based upon our experience gathered while shooting our first short film “The Lazarus Herofication”. There is a common mistake among filmmakers to assign less time for pre-production. Vikramaditya Motwane advises filmmakers to assign more time to pre-production than production. If one is prepared before the production starts cost and time will be curbed to a great extent. Now, pre-production involved scriptwriting, references, color palette, Genre, Codec, equipment lists, Recee (Film Making), Casting, Costume Design, and Sound Design.
It is not about doing these things but deciding upon them which will result in a good film.
When you have done that now the time is to start shooting! There is one point which is quite important to mention here about Film making. It looks quite attractive at the outset but when it comes to shooting a film it can become extremely taxing. This is the only reason that many people switch their jobs while indulging in filmmaking. We at colored glasses on are not discouraging you to make a film but keeping you in terms with extremities. But it is the appreciation for cinema that will always lead you to push yourself. Another thing is in the satiation of knowledge. As Andrei Tarkovsky said,
“The idea of infinity cannot be expressed in words or even described, but it can be apprehended through art which makes infinity tangible. The absolute is only attainable through faith and in creative art.
A frame from Andrei Rublev (1966) Andrei Tarkovsky's second feature film.
Known for its religious depiction via frames representing philosophy and emptiness.
The very first job of Film production is delegation of duties. It is very much possible that as an independent filmmaker you will work with a small crew. The members of the crew will have to switch their duties, accordingly. This happens with our team at colored glasses on quite often. Hence, every person’s responsibilities must be defined. The DOP (Director of Photography) must switch hats as a gaffer or key grip or best boy on an Indie production. But other crew members shall share the workload and assist him. So, before the camera rolls, even the sound engineer can help him out. This will also give the other crew members an outlook of the other departments. The result is better communication. Sound and Visuals go hand in hand, before placement of any lighting rig on the set for production design the cinematographers should communicate with the sound engineers and make sure that it won’t affect the sound blocking. The Sound engineers must communicate with the Camera, Production, and Costume departments constantly.
This is the case when the production value is quite reasonable. If not does it limit you from executing your project? In this digital age with the escalation of technology, there is no excuse left for filmmakers to not make a film.
“You can shoot a film with a camera of the size of a pinhole and show it to a group of people”.
But make sure to bring out the best from what you have. Even Academy Award-winning director like Steven Soderberg is shooting with an I phone. Films like Tangerine have changed the game altogether. Use different elements and wrap around the available lights with them to see what impact it has on the shot. Similarly use materials of different colors and see whether that color goes well with the psychology of the characters. Expose the frame but do not bother too much about it. Just make sure the cinematography of the film should dissolve throughout it. Make sure to consider time, characters, and concept continuity throughout the scene for a nice overall rhythm. Moreover, ensure to take enough coverage given the available time so that the editor has enough options in the post-production.
A frame from Steven Soderbergh's Unsane (2018) was shot entirely on I phone 7 plus.
Sound is the only element that differentiates a video from a film. Filmmakers often ignore the aesthetics of Sound. If you have shotgun mics / Lavaliers/ sound mixer or have enough means to rent them out then it is good, if not, a mobile phone can record sound. Try and use cheap lavalier mics available on e-commerce websites use them to record dialogues from mobile phones. Wrap them around the actors and hide the mobile phone suitably in the costumes. This means you should choose the costumes for the characters, accordingly. If not then use the camera sound as your pilot track for the dialogues.
After, the shot ask the actors to perform with the same intensity and record dialogues using a phone. Keep individual tracks of the character dialogues. Make sure to record sounds of the character's movement separately and record the ambience sound as well. These are called sweetening sounds and room tones. All these things will help the audience to sense the soundscape further it will define the time and concept of the shot. There is various software like Audacity which are open source and can be used to adjust the noise floor in the post.
There is another rule which should be kept in mind while shooting “Do not rely too much on post-production”. Try and achieve things on the Camera using practical effects. The last aspect is Acting. Actors are the face of the film, and it is important to build good relations with them. Involve them in the whole workflow of your project and get them enthused. It takes a lot of time for theatre actors to adapt to the film medium. The key here is patience as an actor must wait a lot while the shot is being lighted. The director must create a safe and homely environment for them to bring out their best.
It should be kept in mind that other aspects of filmmaking should never compromise the performance of the Actors. For example, do not restrict the actor’s movement with your frame blocking and light setup. Ask them to convey different emotions for a particular scene. Keep reminding them about their characters and the plot so they do not deviate from the narrative. If you have enough time, ask them to try anything. Something which does not look good while shooting might work out in the context of a cut. In the end film making is a collaborative process so communication is the key. The better you communicate the better relations you will build. Building relations is a keystone for this wonderful art form.