Film Equipment

How do you make a movie without a budget? This is one of the most common questions we are asked about filmmaking. We show you how anyone can make a short/feature film without a budget and the steps to creating your exciting project. So let’s jump in on how to make a low budget movie look professional.

The entry barriers these days in a digital world are now a lot lower than the past – it’s a great time for storytellers to get their material out there. With the opportunity of filming a short film through your mobile phone and uploading it onto many different platforms to get seen by millions, the opportunity is definitely there.

Onto the good stuff. Here’s how you can a movie without a budget:

1. The idea/concept

How to Make a Movie Without a Budget: The Idea

Coming up with the initial idea can come through a number of avenues, whether it’s an experience, a joke someone told, something you saw, a family members story or just a concept you think “this will be fun to make”. Whatever it is, get that idea down on paper and grow it. Flesh it out and find the starting point and how the story will arc.
Writing the script:

My go-to script software is Celtx – free edition – a fantastic piece of software for a filmmaker especially if you are shooting without a budget! It has everything you need to write your first script and very user-friendly. The best way to plan the script is set out into 3 chapters and work through them individually and iterate. It’s also good practice to map out your characters and build them out – not just “Terence is in his early 20’s, rough and wears a bag”.

I know you are thinking, why do I have to include all of this in my script? It will bulk it out too much. That isn’t the case, you won’t include any of that in the script – simply, what you are doing is building up a character and by doing that you have a detailed idea of the character and can use this to drive the story.

READ MORE: What is a Film Treatment?

2. The Storyboard

How to Make a Movie Without a Budget: The Storyboard

Nb. It doesn’t have to be a work of art. It can even be a stick person!

The storyboard fleshes out the shots you will need for creating your film as well as what is needed in terms of props and multiple shots for post-production. You can use this for multiple other aspects – call sheets, lenses to use for the DoP and the props for the shoot. It also helps with continuity.

My favourite program to create these on – we use good old fashioned paper and a pen but when going digital it’s always: Wonder Unit. It’s fantastic software and free to use.

READ MORE: Indie filmmaking tips: A short guide to indie filmmaking

3. Location

How to Make a Movie Without a Budget: The Location

Make sure you look at writing your film to one or two locations max. This will save you a lot of money and also time. It will also help carve a story as you know what your restrictions are. But having a location restriction does not mean your film will flop – check out this short for a one location shoot, it’s incredible.

4. Camera

How to Make a Movie Without a Budget: The Camera

You don’t have to spend a thing. You have a high-quality filming device right on you as you read this but a low-cost camera that will create an incredible film is also possible.

We love the Canon 2000D, but you can make incredible films on your iPhone and filmmaking apps to change the look by browsing the app store – a great filming app is:

We advise buying a camera once you have got 2-3 films under your belt. This will give you a real idea of what works for your filmmaking style.

5. Editing

How to Make a Movie Without a Budget: The Editing Process

DaVinci Resolve – a free download and it’s at an industry level. The levels of editing in this piece of software are unbelievable in their free edition – definitely the best freemium package! Another option if you want something simple but effective is iMovie. It has the capability to edit a short film to a high standard. You can easily achieve a cinematic and professional feel by adding a crop and some cool colouring.

READ MORE: How to get that cinematic feel in Adobe Premiere Pro

6. Marketing your film:


It really depends on the budget. But having 0 budget doesn’t mean you can’t get a huge reach on your film. For instance, you can approach businesses or brands who can relate to your story in some way and ask them to share your film, it will them kick off a domino effect. An Instagram campaign with the right tags and post times can create a buzz, especially within the #shortfilm #indiefilmmakers #filmmakers hashtags.

We hope this is helpful to you, feel free to give us a shout here and remember there are NO barriers to filmmaking, get out there and tell your story!

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