Micro budget filmmaking can give you maximum creative control over your work. However, your project will always be limited when there’s less cash. That means it’s essential to plan. Consider the following tips that can help you through the process of producing your micro budget film.
1. It starts with the script
Some scripts won’t work as micro-budget films because of their technical nature. If you only have a few thousand dollars, you likely can’t implement a script that requires several exotic shooting locations and CGI effects. Your script needs to work within the confines of your budget, otherwise your project may never get off the ground.
2. Cast and hire the right people
It’s always best to hire and work with people that are reliable and come prepared, but be sure that they are also familiar with micro budget filmmaking so they know what to expect. Be sure to get referrals from your network, and be sure to conduct a search on networking sites like Crewrr, Staff Me Up, and Crew Connection. Finally, cast actors and hire crew members that believe in your project and are satisfied with the pay that you can afford to provide. There are even special agreements with some entertainment unions for low-budget and student filmmaking. Check out this resource about ultra low budget projects from the Screen Actors Guild.
3. Use crowdfunding
Crowdfunding can increase the budget of your film. Platforms like Seed&Spark, Indiegogo and Kickstarter are great for raising funds. To be successful in raising your funds, you’ll need a compelling story about your project. It also helps to have cast and crew members share about the project within their networks to really drive in donations. Promoting your page on social media is also a must. Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are useful for reaching out to people who you already know that may be interested in your film.
4. Production sound quality matters
Production sound quality is crucial, and there is nothing that will make your film seem more unprofessional than having terrible sound. Most viewers have zero patience with indecipherable audio. High-quality audio clearly delivers the dialogue, which keeps audience members interested in the story. In general, you’re better off having perfect sound with less-than-perfect visuals because viewers are more forgiving with small visual errors. If someone says “We’ll fix the audio in post-production,” don’t be so sure. It is much less expensive to record sound correctly on location in the moment than it is to hire actors to come in for ADR sessions after the fact. Paying for an extended foley session to rebuild the audio of a scene is also expensive!
5. Keep your finances organized
When there are a limited number of dollars, it is crucial to keep your spending organized and under control. For micro budget filmmaking, we recommend using a master budget built with a free spreadsheet tool like Google Sheets. We also recommend using a digital tracking tool like PYCO that is inexpensive and provides real-time spending data to everyone involved with the project. We have special pricing for “Shoestring Initiatives” that cost less than buying lunch!
6. Don’t forget to budget for post-production work
Critical post-production expenses include a picture editor, and a sound editor and mixer. While it’s tempting to do these tasks yourself, it’s often better to hire talented individuals so your film’s technical quality doesn’t suffer. Bad picture and sound editing will distract an audience member, and they won’t focus on the story or recommend your film to their friends.
7. Make a plan for distribution
Once your film is complete, you’ll want to share it with the world! There are lots of opportunities to stream your films through free online video platforms and social media. For micro budget projects, this might be the most cost effective option to give fans access to your work and build your audience. Depending on the type of film you have created, you may want to set aside a small budget for submitting your film to genre specific festivals that screen similar types of work to your project (like documentary or zombie festivals). These festivals are a great way to showcase your work in a shared environment with peers who have common interests. Finally, there are also aggregator services that will manage getting your film streaming on VOD services like iTunes, Amazon Video, and Netflix. These resources can be a more expensive option, so they might not make sense to use for distributing a micro-budget film.
8. Enjoy the experience
The best part about making a micro budget film is the creative freedom available to you. Having a thorough plan before you begin production will ensure that your money goes as far as it can. Be sure to pay attention to things that work well during the project, and also to those things that could have been better. These will be important lessons for your next film production!