How you can make an incredible film with no budget

Here we show you how anyone can make a short film and the steps to creating your exciting project.

Making a short film is a great way to gain essential filmmaking experience as well as having a finished product to add to your expanding filmmaking arsenal.

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.

Here we will help set the guidelines from your initial idea/concept and help you bring that through to post-production.

The idea/concept:

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. 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 “Terrance 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.

The Storyboard:

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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 for 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.
Filming:
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.

Camera:

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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.

Editing:

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Da Vinci 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.

Marketing your film:

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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!

P.s find out here how to get your film funded!

How to write your first short film in detail

Here we outline the simple steps to allow you to bring your exciting idea to life! Without further ado…

Outline the core idea/concept.

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What are you looking to tell? How will you decide on an idea? Do you have an initial concept?

Finding the perfect story doesn’t happen in an instance, so you want to brainstorm an idea with your peers. Whether it’s a joke you’ve heard or something that’s happened to you, make sure you sound out the core concept. This will help you flesh out the basics and realise what story you want to tell.

Know your protagonist and Antagonist

Who is the central character to your story and what is their end goal? What are the obstacles for them to achieve their goal? This is where the protagonist comes into play, but most importantly, it is also how you generate a story arc and excitement for the reader/viewer.

Define the tone and style

Who’s your audience? What are you trying to say to them? Are you looking to make them cry? Laugh? To terrify them? What is your main objective? These are the key questions to decide if it’s an action/adventure, a comedy or even a thriller.

This will give you a solid foundation to develop the story further.

The setting

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Define the setting before even starting to write the script. One huge point to consider is budget. If you are a low to no budget shoot don’t go too crazy unless you can haggle a spaceship for free. Focus on single settings – a forest, a house, a flat, a pub (you’ll be surprised in what pubs offer), a warehouse, a restaurant. Make sure

Find exciting moments.

Throw in something exciting to add an arc to your short film. We don’t want Daisy/David getting from A to B with ease, do we? That wouldn’t be fun for us would it. We want them to stumble across something, get taken from the path, find something out that will change their motives – we need something.

David and Daisy get to the shop and successfully pay for a 99p bottle of water.
Or
David and Daisy come across a body, and realise that someone’s following them they realise, they’ve planted it and end up hiding inside a barn to escape the antagonist. Dot hey make it to the shop for that magical bottle of H2O? we are not sure, we will make our own minds up.

I know which one I’d rather watch!

Tell a story but make it visual

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Less is more. Show don’t tell. It’s so easy to slip into the ease of over-explaining and writing exactly what you want the viewer to see. Try to keep it short and simple rather than long lengthy descriptions. It’s key to show that “Damon (21) is gazing across a clothes strewn dingy bedroom” not “Damon (21) dressed in fila sneakers, brown trousers, a red jumper, hair straightened with a bit of wax… etc”. Well, that’s a slight over exaggeration but you get the gist. Allow the audience to picture it they’ll see it in the movie and be able to follow the story without any hiccups – they will be fully focused and with you for the whole ride.

So show, not tell.

Engage the reader

Since you have so little time to make an impression the impact of page one is crucial, just as it is crucial to hook the reader in the first 10 pages of a feature-length script. What is the world of the film? Do we root for the main character? Does the world and story of the film feel authentic? The ending is also essential as it’s rare to truly feel moved at the end of a short, so work towards a meaningful, satisfying ending.

Ask for feedback

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You can get stuck in tunnel vision. It’s great to get the point of view from your peers. This will help flesh out your story, give you another dimension and point of view. Something you may understand may not be as clear to your audience. This will lose them within the story and they may feel disconnected. You want them to feel connected and be on board for the ride.

An added extra

Finally, the most important tip is to actually start writing the script! More often than not you develop a fear of writing anything. It won’t be perfect the first time, even something as successful as Avatar. The amount of draft, rewrites and concept changes would have been unlimited. Never let that fear stop you from writing your film and getting started Good luck and contact us here with any questions.

Any questions, fire them over to our: Say Hello page.