I just need to slow down a bit, and really focus on just working within my limitations.
There's the place to start, you said it yourself. Rip your story/script apart and pare it down to essentials. What is the absolute minimum number of characters and locations needed to tell the story you want to tell? How important are the locations? And set dressing, and wardrobe, and... you get it, I'm sure.The story holds up well enough on its own. That's been the sole focus from the start.
From there you figure the production cost. As a sound guy I am, of course, going to tell you that production sound is king. But the smaller the budget the more important it becomes. You can chalk up almost anything visual to a style, or whatever, (the infamous "Blair Witch" story) but when it comes to sound audiences are very unforgiving. If you start with great production sound your entire audio post is a creative endeavor and not a rescue operation. At the small budget level we don't have the expensive toys the big studios use, nor, on your budget, do we have the time to waste cleaning up bad audio. Let's look at it this way; if you booked 100 hours of audio post time do you want them to spend 75 of those hours cleaning up bad production sound? Or would you rather have them spend their time nuancing the dialog, putting in deeper layers of Foley & sound effects, and finessing the mix?
And, look at it this way as well; don't you want people to understand the dialog you crafted so carefully?
And a third way... If you're doing the audio post yourself, what the hell do you know about audio noise reduction?
You'll have to decide what comes next in terms of importance. But it's all going to be a series of compromises and reorganizations.
Sorry to rant on. Just sitting here waiting for Isaias to show up.