“I have no money but I want to be a filmmaker so people give me money to make more films. Help me!”
Whether you’re an aspiring filmmaker or have a few productions under your belt, we all come across the same issue when it comes to kicking off a new project. Funding. The bane of our existence.
I’m sure you’ve either read or at least heard of Robert Rodriguez’s book Rebel without a Crew. There are some incredible tips in there on how to make films when you don’t have funding and although it was published back in the 90s, the theory is still the same.
So below, I’ve pieced together my 21st Century tips on how to make a movie with zero funding.
It all starts with resources. What do you currently have access to?
Hack 1: Use your own smartphone
“Is that a phone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”
Let’s start with technology. We live in great times. Forget the state of the world, let’s focus on how far technology has come and how all these tech bits now fit into one device.
Chances are, you own one of these already. Amirite? That means, you’ve already got the main tool you need to be able to make movies. Booyah! If you have a digital video camera or anything else you can point and shoot with, then you’re ready to capture your scenes.
Hack 2: Use free editing software packages
“I have too many paid software subscriptions!”
Hack 3: Use a royalty free music site for the movie score
“People will forgive bad picture, but they will NEVER forgive bad sound.”
Hack 4: Use household items instead of expensive gear
“If you can move it, you can use it.”
You heard that right! Own a selfie stick or tripod for your phone? You can use that to mix up your handheld shots. But I also recommend you think about innovative ways to use household items as part of your film kit. Like attaching your camera to the end of a broom to use as a monopod or a jib or positioning a camera on top of a suitcase to create a dolly.
Check out this video for more hacks.
Hack 5: Use items you own for props and locations you can access for free
“I’m not a hoarder, I just might need these boxes to build a fort some time.”
One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. Or in this case, everything in your house can be used as a prop in your film. Make a list of everything you have. Got a piano? A drumset? A firepit? A swing? A wheelbarrow? A wedding dress? Whatever you’ve got, add it to the list. By creating your story around what you already have access to, you reduce the chance of you needing to source it later.
This also goes for locations. Got a house or apartment? A garage? A friend’s place? Your folk’s place? A shop? A car? An alleyway behind your house? A pool in the backyard? Whatever you’ve got access to for free, list it all down. You’d be surprised at how much you already have at your fingertips.
Hack 6: Inspire friends and family to be part of your film for free
“If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.”
This also goes for your cast and crew. Most people just want to create so find “your people” whether they be your mates, your fam, your pets or some awesome people you’ve met through film networking sites like FML.
Now that you know what resources you have available to you for free, you can write your screenplay using the locations, props and talent you have access to. Writing within your limitations may not be as exciting as writing an action flick with a bunch of explosions, but it does evoke a sense of creativity and one that allows you to create a script that you WILL be able to produce. And if you’re having problems unlocking your creativity, check out this awesome blog on How to overcome the CREATIVE BLOCK aka writer’s block.
As long as you have a story to share, passion in your pocket and the drive to deliver, you can produce an epic film with zero budget. So show me what you’ve got. Go out there and
Until next time!