Tips on How to Make a No Budget Film

LoneTrapper - Alfredo Rodríguez
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Ever wanted to make a no budget film? You can.¬†Today’s advancement in technology means anyone and everyone has access to the equipment needed to make your first little blockbuster.

Unfortunately it’s not just as easy as point and shoot. Months and even years of dedication is necessary to get it off the ground. These are some of the things I’ve learnt along the way that is A MUST to help get your film out of the dreaded development hell (and some might surprise you).


Sounds corny, I know, but you do really need to believe in yourself. Your ability, your script, your skills. Everything. Besides who else will? Have this mindset and half the battle is done.

Have your own equipment

Or borrow some for free from someone, anyone. That’s one of the biggest money savers right there for a no budget film. Which leads to…

Settle for second best (and be comfortable in that fact)

Not everyone can afford 4K red cameras. I know I can’t. What’s more important, a good film with average equipment or an average film with good equipment? I know what I would choose. Believe it or not people will accept 1080 over 4K. Yeah, it’s true.

Have a good support team

Keep the team small. Make sure you’re all on the same wavelength, all dedicated to the cause. If not, best to let them go. Total commitment or nothing. Remember this is your dream, it might not be someone else’s.

Wear Many Hats

Learn to do all the important jobs yourself. Last thing you want is to shoot your film only for your editor to take a paid job and put your pride and joy on the back burner. No. Don’t let it get to this. If you don’t know how to edit, now is the perfect time to learn. Sure it might take longer, but it’ll be done your way. Besides editing, other key roles to consider keeping for yourself are writer, director and producer.

The less glamorous jobs (more hats)

It’s no walk on the red carpet, scheduling and budgeting are just some of the critical jobs required to succeed. This will sap your time, patience and sanity. If you succeed in this part, the shoot will be much, much smoother. Get this right!

Lock in a date

Everyone is busy now days. And if your making a low budget film, sometimes things in life just pop up. The longer you push it back or reschedule, the less likely it will happen. I’d recommend locking a date to start that can’t be changed – for us, it was booking flights. No turning back. No putting it off now.

The finished/ unfinished script

Writing is hard. Very hard. Dealing with your own expectations, creativity and overall success is all in the mind. How many times have your read and re-read your script? For writers, there is always the feeling that it could be improved or changed. For a film, you need to consciously have a ‘this is it’ moment and move forward with the film. Otherwise, you’ll just continually rewrite it and will get no where with your film. Only you can choose this moment.

Location, location, location

Sets are expensive and are normally reserved for Hollywood blockbusters. So keep it simple or utilise cool locations. Google Earth is fantastic for location scouting and and helped us scout and schedule the film from 5000km away.

So how am I able to give advice on making a no budget film without having made one? Because I’ve been the one who failed this advice, often many times. Now on the verge of making our film Travel Warning, I finally understand where I had gone wrong for so long. Don’t waste any more time. It’s too short to procrastinate.

Good luck!

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