> Lo/No Budget Review

Sometimes I just like to wander about a few free internet movie sites and see what sorta-recent low/no budget feature films look like; something with a budget around what can be pulled together through crowdfunding.

Here's a 2008 C$20,000 90min feature: Hunting Grounds

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_7bKJnf-xU

Shot with a Sony HVR-Z1U.
sony_chazzside.jpg

http://reviews.cnet.com/digital-camcorders/sony-hvr-z1u/4540-6500_7-31427941-4.html

Seems this was the writer/director's first and only feature after his first and only short: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0082637/#Director


Directed by
Eric Bilodeau

Writing credits (first of two)
Eric Bilodeau

Produced by (along with seven co-producers)
Eric Bilodeau

Cinematography by
Eric Bilodeau

Film Editing by
Eric Bilodeau

Casting by
Eric Bilodeau

Production Design by
Eric Bilodeau

Art Direction by
Eric Bilodeau

Special Effects by
Eric Bilodeau​

Be careful about stretching yourself too thin on projects. :cool:

The youtube comments are quite uncharitable: http://www.youtube.com/all_comments?v=x_7bKJnf-xU

The critic reviews honestly have a good charitable dose of praise, understanding, and context of the film's budget.

It almost always seems like the trade off of a lo/no budget film is between ambitious cr@p or just cr@p.

Is it that difficult to get an hour and a half of good looking + good sounding + good acting + good story?
It would appear so.
This filmmaking thing might not be so easy after all.



The music level during the first voice over is obnoxiously obstructive.

Gotta keep audio collection echo in small spaces WELL UNDER CONTROL.

Interesting difference in camera work from the experimental base to the bar. The former looks like handheld cr@p, the latter uses some nice slides and angles.

Dialog audio vs. score audio needs MUCH GREATER weighting to the dialog.

Gotta be mindful of those all white backgrounds blowing out around darker foreground subjects.

The CGI floating screen effects are done well.

In the day-for-night adjusted shots the contrast is just obliterated. That's something to tinker around with a practice a good bit rather than just writing off crushing the blacks.

I'm not the best guy for critiquing drama, but some of these shots just seemed more like "fat" editing rather than dramatic delay or drawing out the tension.

OMG. @ 22:00 That background... WTH izzat? Traffic noise? that pervasive traffic noise AND BIRD CHIRPING are effing horrible!

Contrast levels in the car are awful. Same for in the shop @ 26. And KEEP THE D@MN CAMERA LEVEL! Sheesh!

Story's pretty juvenile and retarded.

Nice track work @ 28.

Not only is the dialog terrible, but the delivery blows, too.

Nice zooms. Did zooms look bad back in the 70's as they do now? Is it a cultural thing or not, it sux no matter what decade you're in?

Dialog audio is a disaster @ 32.

Skipping ahead 20mins...

Some nice jib work. Then comes some handheld that rotate-rocks up and down - looks like sh!t.
And the dialog/audio mix is JACKED!

Zombie actors and costumes + makeup look like cr@p.

@ 1:01:32 "What the f#ck was she standing there doing nothing for?!" I can't decide if that was the best or the worst line in the film. :lol:

How many shots does splinter eye have in that pistol of hers?

Skipping ahead to the last 10mins...

Alright, that blue screen sh!t @ 1:19:00 looks like... sh!t. Are they back in the game again? Going back a few minutes...

Nice practical effect forehead bleed @ 1:09:12.

@ 1:13:00 that CGI aircraft looks nice far away, like cr@p up close, and like cr@p when it lands. The greenscreen guys coming out look almost right.

Nope. Caught up with the last forward jump. It's supposed to be "real". I guess this was a digitally recreated scene to salvage something. Interesting. Looks like sh!t, though.

For God's sake QUIT ZOOMING IN AND OUT!

Need ND filters to accommodate lighting so that shutter speeds can be kept somewhere near consistent.

Some consistent white balancing would also be nice.



Okay. Well... That was educational.


Anyone else have some semi-current lo/no budget films you'd like to share?
 
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I watched the first 15 minutes and I don't think it's just a problem of low budget on the technical side.
Some months ago I watched "Following" by Nolan and... It didn't look like a no budget movie. The whole setup of the story is much better and it is INTERESTING. This one here is just... well, we all have seen it one million times before.

Most no budget (or rather "zero" budget) indie films are lacking in story and instead try to copy successful film techniques. Maybe every indie filmer should work on story first to make a better movie.
 
Sometimes I just like to wander about a few free internet movie sites and see what sorta-recent low/no budget feature films look like; something with a budget around what can be pulled together through crowdfunding.
...
It almost always seems like the trade off of a lo/no budget film is between ambitious cr@p or just cr@p.

Is it that difficult to get an hour and a half of good looking + good sounding + good acting + good story?
It would appear so.
This filmmaking thing might not be so easy after all.
...

rayw: I think filmmaking IS hard.

Maybe an ingredient missing in your formula above is *unique.* Seems even a good film will struggle unless it captures the audience thirst for "new." Perhaps "good story" should be replaced by "great story?"

And on this day after Thanksgiving, also wanted to say THANK YOU to you and all the indietalk folks that share their experience and thinking to help educate and push us to make better films. I mostly work as a 1st AD, and all the things I've learned here help me in that role, as well.

All the best-
 
Maybe every indie filmer should work on story first to make a better movie.
Amen. Minus the "Maybe", of course.

Story first.
Technique second.

Both gotta be good, or else:
shit.png



Earlier this week I watched CONTAGION. Simple shots. Most were fixed tripod or car mount shots, with the remaining being discrete tracks, jibs and a very few handhelds.
It looked nice.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-w3vt4uJ7p8


kjones -
All the best to you, as well!
 
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BAD IS BAD (2010) $6,000

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPN7UEWJ6VI

http://vimeo.com/27377057

Bad is Bad is our first feature length movie. It was written when we were 19 and shot when we were 20. Our total budget was about $6,000. We filmed it in 18.5 days in Richmond, Virginia in the summer of 2010 using the Canon 7d (which made up a quarter of our budget alone).

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1732563/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Critic Reviews:
http://reviews.filmsnobbery.com/movie-reviews/bad-is-bad/
http://www.roguecinema.com/article2947.html
http://theindependentcritic.com/bad_is_bad
http://www.filmthreat.com/reviews/42107/

From the Vimeo comments:
... we decided to use mostly wide lenses for this movie, and since most of our shots were wide as well, there was very little of the shallow depth of field that DSLR's are famous for.
Specifically, we rented a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 (which was our workhorse) and a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 for the super wide shots. We had a slow telephoto lens that we used a few times as well.


The one tech fault I picked straight away is any DP's nightmare, the blasted pixel dropout! Plus it's right in centre of screen. This however can be fixed by overlaying the pixel next to it through the whole film.


You guys should consider fixing that pixel. Wouldn't be hard. I can help you guys do it if you want, just shoot me a PM.


You allowed the story and talent to drive the movie. Not shallow DOF, dramatic color grading, overbearing soundtrack etc. That's why this movie is outstanding. More power to you !


The writing and the acting were faultless. The audio was very good, but sometimes slightly distracting. Maybe lower the volume of the outside world a little. Good job.


I've just got to be honest as well and add that there is no way I'd be watching this right now if I had to pay, not that its not worth the money or anything and not that I feel I shouldn't pay, the way it is for me right now and the way I use the internet I just wouldnt and I'm sure a hell of a lot of people will watch this that are in the same boat,
I'll pay to watch your next film at the cinema though!!

Not knowing anything about it, there's no way I would pay for it either... I think more people should consider that fact when they release their first indie movie solely as a $15 DVD or download. Unless one of those starts making top 10 lists or something, I'll never have enough faith to fork out my wallet to see it...​


Great cinematography, muffled sound is always a film killer. Coherent sound is ok, but good sound makes the film. Acting was ok. Zits looked fake. Film was sort of pointless, proving once again that the script makes the film, not the ability to make a film with a camera that can do the job. Bet you guys love pluralize.

Only problem was that bad pixel right at the middle of the sensor, yuck!

The 180 degree rule is a good thing. I would tighten it up and get the main theme of the film going quicker.

This film has completely changed my perception of what is possible with a low budget feature length film.

I enjoyed that - shame about that dead pixel right in the centre of the screen

This film was perfect in that it kept my attention all the way until the end! Loved it!
I didn't notice the dead pixel until halfway through the movie, but it didn't really take my attention away fro the story.
Thanks for making me feel better about that damn dot!
When I have a better computer I'll probably go back and fix it, but after doing this whole re-edit on my school laptop, I can't imagine how long it would take to do After Effects work on 96 minutes of HD footage...ughh​

Question: what "picture profile" did you use in the 7D while shooting?
We just used the Neutral picture style, and lowered the contrast, saturation, and sharpness (all done in camera). Can't remember the specifics of that though.​

how you record the sound? Equipment?
We almost exclusively used a rented Schoeps cmc641, plugged into a Sound Devices 302 mixer, plugged into a Zoom H4n. We had also rented a set of wireless lapel mics, but they didn't work, which is a shame because the dialogue would sound a lot better if they had.​

Nice work guys, I'm looking forward for your future releases. And it prooved once again you don't need a 100 million $ budget and an overproduced movie to tell a good story. Keep up the good work.

It appears it got a great deal of exposure via: http://philipbloom.net/2011/09/06/badisbad/


My observations:
Audio is much better in this one compared to that last L/NB film I watched.
@ 10:00 bad contrast inside car. Needs small bounce board inside. WTH happened to the audio inside there?
@ 10:50 awkward moment was pretty d@mn funny!
@ 11:33 zooming towards parked car with windows rolled up. Cuts to...
@ 11:35 conversation with window obviously rolled down. :grrr:
The prevalent cuts to black are odd.
@ 11:54 the cranes up TO the floors to the attic are interesting. Gotta keep the rate consistent + control the wobble.
Attic shots need both white balance and more light.
@ 17:56 that digital zoom out don't look so good.
@ 19:05 that handheld looks wretched. Love the mosquito crescendo!
@ 19:31 GET THAT GD WATCH OUTTA THE WAY! EFFFF MEEEEE!!! And the contrast inside the car needs improvement.
Inside the bar the rocking walking camera needs pro-help. Contrast needs a larger aperture.
The talking heads in a booth scene needs some rule-of-thirds applied - or - a sniper sight overlay. Pick one.
@ 25:43 nice tripod action on that approaching car and around the turn!
I think those pistols are plastic. They move like plastic. They heft like plastic. I think they're plastic.
When the camera is directed inside the kitchen the contrast looks great.
When it's directed from the kitchen towards George in the chair AND THE GIANT WINDOWS BEHIND HIM the contrast looks terrible.
@ 35:30 camera work following the little daughter looks... fairly well.
Stab my eye with a fork. In slo mo. That confession scene took just waaaaaay toooooo lonnnnng. Ugh!
@ 45 the foyer chitchat is mildly amusing.
Lighting and contrast! Lighting and contrast! Lighting and... CONTRAST!
Interesting. A tripod on the floor of a nice house over a crawlspace still bounces when you stomp on the floor. Who knew?!
The second foyer convo was also funny. I know many people DON'T care for these, but I do.
@ 58 everything is yellow.
@ 59 everything is greenish blue. Gotta color correct all your shots.
@ 59:32 I like the off-angle for the scene!
Horrid audio cut between 1:01:44 and 1:01:45. Yeesh. I'm surprised so many people were complaining about the missing pixel (which has since been fixed, I see) but there was no equal outcry over these audio issues.
Daughter's wimpery face @ 1:02:24 as she sits down cuts to plain face @ 1:02:25. These little continuity bugs are a hassle I acknowledge.
@ 1:04:24 that is some rough docu-cam work.
@ 1:09:14 to :16 I wan't a jury call on that lighting change to denote before-and-after the joint hits Katie. I think it's trying too hard. Oh, and there's a funky lens change to a wide angle lens, too.
Manic scissor squeek's a bit overdone.
From 1:17 that increasing hollow wind sound is pretty good. I like it.
@ 1:26 there's some pretty fantastic camera on a tripod shudder! Repeatedly!
@ 1:27 don't put one actor behind or partially the other. Either spread 'em out or get him off the screen. But no Kilroy's, please.
kilroy.jpg.w300h295_normal.jpg

@ 1:28 the score's a bit larger than this production warrants.
For comic relief Ray should dart back into the house to ferret out the car keys from Jesse's pants! :lol::no:


Alright, just in case you're wondering, the reason I paid so much attention to this film than that previous film was A) This was closer to a budget and story complexity I could actually pull off myself (in all my spare time, of course), and B) HUNTING GROUNDS was such a FUBAR disaster it wasn't worth problem solving along the way, whereas this was close enough to consider where to learn "tweak a little here, tweak a little there" and it'd be... 50% better.

Can't make a silk purse outuva sow's ear - but I could make a mighty fine pig skin wallet. Maybe. :)
 
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rayw: I think filmmaking IS hard.

Maybe an ingredient missing in your formula above is *unique.* Seems even a good film will struggle unless it captures the audience thirst for "new." Perhaps "good story" should be replaced by "great story?"

And on this day after Thanksgiving, also wanted to say THANK YOU to you and all the indietalk folks that share their experience and thinking to help educate and push us to make better films. I mostly work as a 1st AD, and all the things I've learned here help me in that role, as well.

All the best-

Hindsight is twenty/twenty. I'm guilty of judging swiftly, but I expect to have the same thing done to me shortly here. Trying to make something even decent is very very hard.

Gotta be a brave one to get out there and show your stuff, or just daft. xD
 
Trying to make something even decent is very very hard.

Gotta be a brave one to get out there and show your stuff, or just daft. xD

That's for SURE!

I kill myself making sure every aspect of my films is as good as I can make it for the budget - script, sound, lighting, cinematography, music, effects - and distributors shrug.
 
+1

Even with a crew, there is a percentage too arrogant to admit they have no experience to do what they are asked to do and what is worse is they are too arrogant to take direction to do things right.

Fix it in post seems to be more of a challenge than it should be for a small production. But, many times that is the only way to save a small film.

I strong sense of story and turning footage into the story of the film will make or break the production.

I believe the role of the small independent film editor is very under appreciated.
 
Umm... Yeah!
H3LL, YEAH! actually.
Cr@p filmmaking ain't no big whup. Just assemble 80% of what you need, spend 50% more than what you need, and only know about 20% of what you need to know and you got yourself a mighty fine POS.

If you can get 90% of optimal performance outta every filmmaking aspect you're still going to have a "Meh... " product.

There really isn't much where you can flinch and hope no one notices.
Oh, people notice, alright. LOL!
Some of those youtube comments can get downright uncharitable.
And those opinions and observations are what the blue collar (and 47%-ers) rabble crowd really feels about your polished poop.

* * * * * * * *

Two more to go hunting for: Matt Porter of "More Perfect Union" and "Gunderson's" fame.
http://vimeo.com/23156897
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1821544/
http://vimeo.com/25697122
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2007390/

And a third!: $4,000 - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1297293/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a82uwPmj_34&list=FLAjer8rkSPHn0mh3Lp1TMEw&feature=plcp
Lettuce see what $500,000 buys: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0454801/?ref_=fn_al_tt_2
$50,000: http://www.youtube.com/movie/the-wickeds http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0448177/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
$10,000: http://www.youtube.com/movie/flesh-tx http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1099199/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1
$10,000: http://www.youtube.com/movie/death-of-a-ghost-hunter-2007 http://www.helium.com/items/1107314-steve-miller-reviews-sean-trettas-death-of-a-ghost-hunter?page=2 (D@Wmn. Had to work to find a production budget for this one!)

Probably some good shtuff here: http://www.youtube.com/user/ViewsterTV/videos?sort=dd&flow=list&view=0
And here: http://www.youtube.com/user/GravitasVOD/videos?sort=dd&flow=list&view=0


Placeholder: http://www.youtube.com/movie?v=WBXUXwWmpU4 (I just wanted to watch this and didn't want to forget and oose it! Doesn't fit the threads criteria, I know.)
 
I quit watching the first one after a minute. Not everyone has the knack for making your own indie film. Money doesn't buy a good film either.

If you have the talent, it'll show whether you spent $1 or $100,000.

Eric doesn't have it.
 
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There is a joke in Antihero that only Richmonders get, regarding the distance of a particular suburb, in relation to the actual city of Richmond. If Bad is Bad was filmed in Richmond, then The Dark Knight was filmed in Schaumberg.

That being said, I'm totally gonna watch this movie. Thanks for posting it up here. :)
 
Maybe most of us just don't have the right ideas or don't know the right people. I just can't explain why such a steaming pile of shit like "Paranormal Activity" made so much money and spawned a whole franchise of this dreck.
 
$4,000: OC Babes and the Slasher of Zombietown (2008), 70 min, 901,399 YT views

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a82uwPmj_34&list=FLAjer8rkSPHn0mh3Lp1TMEw&feature=plcp

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1297293/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creep_Creepersin
McLovin it:
"The Sci-Fi Originals (2006-present)
Creep and his wife Nikki took on the roles of Skrotar the Conqueror and Clitora the Destroyer to form The Sci-Fi Originals, two aliens from Uranus that have come to enslave Earth. Their only release was the 2007 album Uranus Will Rule You."​

Goodness.

What some people can do with $6k in 2010 dollars and 18.5 days of shooting vs. $4k in 2008 dollars and 8hrs of shooting is "interesting."
Quite a divergent range of outcomes.

  • Hatin' the handheld shaky cam. Even in the car. Buy a tripod, folks. Learn how to use 'em.
  • Like the radio exposition more than I should. For the budget I really don't mind. Oh, wait. Did they lift that off of NOTLD? Excellent use of public domain materials! Too bad they didn't use it better.
  • Credit sequence is unbelievably L O N N N G . . . ! !
  • Blown out images from car are awful.
  • Okay. After a month of credits the very first shot is on a tripod - but then it's back to handheld shaky-cam. Ugh.
  • I don't understand the absolute insistence for handheld.
  • Camera angles suck.
  • Audio sucks.


Okay. Youtube is having one of their "maxed out server" issues tonight so I'm going to bail after 30mins, but I'm pretty sure I've seen enough.
(Probably more than a film festival reviewer watched! HA!)


Now, on the one hand I can respect a guy that actually gets sh!t done.
Lookit this. It's almost impressive:
20121204CreepCreepersinProducerI.png

20121204CreepCreepersinProducerII.png


I'm sure it's mostly a cr@pfest, but it's gettin' done and because of it's sheer volume will have an anthology life longer than all of the pie-in-the-sky shit most of the rest of us will NEVER get done and out there.

HOWEVER...

On the other hand I find the same guy's absolute disrespect for the craft difficult to overlook.

Creep Creepersin isn't interested in making fine home-brewed film.
Nope.
He pretty much just wants to do whatever the h3ll he wants with whatever sh!t he's got around him.
He don't care.
And that "don't care" part kinda irks me.
436
Whatevs.
 
  • Hatin' the handheld shaky cam. Even in the car. Buy a tripod, folks. Learn how to use 'em.
  • Like the radio exposition more than I should. For the budget I really don't mind. Oh, wait. Did they lift that off of NOTLD? Excellent use of public domain materials! Too bad they didn't use it better.
  • Credit sequence is unbelievably L O N N N G . . . ! !
  • Blown out images from car are awful.
  • Okay. After a month of credits the very first shot is on a tripod - but then it's back to handheld shaky-cam. Ugh.
  • I don't understand the absolute insistence for handheld.
  • Camera angles suck.
  • Audio sucks.

How did the logo look? :lol:
 
:lol: So humble I don't recall!
2_thumbs_up_-_animated.gif


I think that's a first in a very long time. Too long a time.


(Note to self: keep production company logo understated. )
 
Wow. Gonna try to watch that at some point. Looks like his body of work has some appeal --with the titles, alone. ;)

Gotta like the poster.
 
$50,000: The Wickeds (2005) 94mins, 66,332 YT views

http://www.youtube.com/movie/the-wickeds http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0448177/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1

Starring Ron Jeremy.
FML, this is gonna be painful.

@ 1:47 is there anything good about that contrast? Highlights are all blown out. Blacks are all crushed. There are almost zero midtones.
Audio is spotty to poor.
The camera work is all over the place. Image quality due to the equipment aside, some of the movement is pretty nice, followed by some which is pretty DIY cliché bad.
The screenplay itself is not that far from good enuff.
What I don't like is stuff that makes little sense:
  • We're going to a horror film set in the middle of nowhere.
  • They arrive at a house with clearly nothing going on.
  • We're going to make our own party. (Oh. So... you kinda knew nothing was going on.)
  • Look in the window, see there IS something going on in there.
  • Break into someone's horror film set. (MUTHERF#CKERS!)
  • Ooo! Ahhh!
  • And break some sh!t (F#CKIN'MUTHERF#CKERS!!)
@ 11:14 the camera image looks sorta funny but the midtones are well lit.
Cut to...
@ 11:16, outside, and it looks like they were using a completely different camera.
Okay, so... I'm wondering exactly WHERE the $50k was spent, figuring most of it went to Ron Jeremy's pay, then finally some expense for the living dead zombies, (resurrected by the removal of Dracula's amulet, of course :rolleyes: whatever.) Okay. There's some money.
Lovin' the names on the gravestones being blurred out. I wonder who did that. The filmmakers or distributors?
Classic cr@p indie filmmaker zombie chase filming. Horrible.
@ 14:02 OMG. Did some girl agree to be a naked zombie in the cemetery for this PoS? I believe I see nippies @ 14:10. Good gravy. At least they filmed on a nice overcast day.

Alright. This is just effing awful miserable to watch after 20minutes of it.
I ain't getting paid to do this. I'm bailing.
 
No budget short film for Ray to review =)

Hey Ray, are you still in the mood to review no budget short films? Haha
I'm not meaning to post this as a plug for my own stuff, but as another example for your short films.
This was made with zero dollars, practically no script (just ideas for shots and a general storyline), and most of it was just spontaneous filming (no storyboards). I'm not happy with it at all.....really the only parts I like are some of the camera shots.

Anyway, I just thought it'd be interesting if you compare this with other projects with higher budgets and critique this one on different aspects like story, how engaging it is, technical shtuffs....etc.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vpYswRGiqZU&list=UU3RfSdeZCuPDZ3IElDrj1OA&index=5

I've learned a lot from it, but as people have said before Pre-production (script, specifically) is SUPER important.

Edit: Yeah, I jumped the gun on this one.....haha, I thought I'd read you guys talk about short films as well as feature-length on this thread, but after rereading it I realized you were talking about feature-length ONLY..... Oh well.....I'm just going to crawl into the corner of embarrassment for a little while.
 
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No problem.

@ 23mins it's probably long enough for anyone to get a good idea about where... improvements can be made. ;)

I'd prefer the safety of not slathering on my usual caustic charm on somebody I may actually forum-know, but if you've got the skin for it I'll tone it down just a hair.

However, at the moment I'm three-days sick with some viral crud that's adversely affecting my sunny disposition.
I'm miserable with no patience for anything and I don't want that skewing what could be an honest 2¢ review.

Gimme a week. Fair enough?
 
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