Slick Film, Tiny Budget

By Becky Medlock

So what if you haven’t got the most expensive equipment, with all of the gadgets and gizmos that Hollywood use:  Here’s a list of films that have all worked on the most basic of principles:  Use what you have.

When making the new sci-fi film Drones (2010) directors Amber Benson and Adam Busch asked their writers to create a film based in an office that could be filmed in a two week period.  Why? Because they had managed to secure an office space for a two week shoot.  You can learn how to write a script to fit your venues and budget at a course such as Maveric Screenwriting at Raindance.

Lo To No Budget Filmmaking Brick Don’t spend all your money on a long shoot, get your actors in early and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse!  For the film, Brick (2005), the director, Rian Johnson, chose to have a 3 month rehearsal period with the cast, which meant that Johnson only needed 20 days to shoot the entire film. Simple.

Run Lola RunWhat could sound more boring than a film about a girl running?  Nevertheless Run Lola Run (1998), directed by Tom Tykwer, is a hugely intense film with a stunning soundtrack Instead of illustrating characters stories through long, drawn out scenes, Run Lola Run depicts their futures through an assembly of fast paced photographs, this is a money saving method that cuts down on costly crew and equipment.   Use a stylish sound effect to match the cuts and your film will suddenly look swish.


Colonel BlimpThis technique was also used by Jack Cardiff to great effect in the film that jump started his career; The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943), directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger.  Instead of travelling all the way to Africa to film a shooting party, Cardiff chose to film the mounted animal heads, with the sounds of the animals to add gravitas.

Narc When you have to shoot a scene in a public place, instead of using actors, use the general public for their reactions.  It saves money, and their reactions will be much more natural.  Just as in the Indie film, Narc (2002), where the character Nick Tellis runs around the street showing a photograph to a passer-by, rather than an actor. 

Blair Witch ProjectIf horror is your genre, then nothing is better than a terrifying indie film to set your hair on end.  The horror genre was made for low budgets; low lighting, most horror films are set at night which means that the backgrounds and sets won’t have to be perfect.  Any shoddy camera work can be utilised and turned into a bonus rather than a hindrance as The  Blair Witch Project (1999) has testified. 

Finally, rather than using special effects such as blood, guts and gore to  create an impact, you can employ a music student to construct a chilling music score that will build tension in all the right places.

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About The Author

Becky Medlock

Becky is a 21 year old recent Film and Screen Practice student from Roehampton University and is interning at Raindance.  Eventually, she aspires to become the next Jack Cardiff and to also write critically for film journals.

In her spare time she enjoys watching films with friends and passing randoms and as well as this, she likes to throw herself around gathering bruises by doing Judo.


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Slick Film, Tiny Budget