wanting to make a short with $1,000

Hello guys,

I have an idea for a short that i want to make. It's a horror-thriller film that takes place in a creepy old medical clinic (or i can shoot in a hospital and then shoot an exterior shot of a clinic for an establishing shot).

Here's what I feel nervous about: I want to try not to spend any more than $1,000 on making the whole thing but don't think that'll be enough for everything. Maybe a camera, mics, lights, food, and a very small crew?

As the writer-producer-director of this movie, i will feed my cast and crew at the very least. I do want to submit it to film festivals and/or upload it to websites where you gotta pay to watch movies and also make a trailer and put it on YouTube.

Mind you, I'm not in a rush to make this particular film. Something is telling me to just finish the script and then shelf it until i can afford to make it and work on something less complex.But there is a part of me that believes I can pull that off with a grand in hand.

Now i may be familiar to some of you guys as I have talked about making a whole feature but I decided to hold off and start off small and make shorts.

My question to you guys is should I start even smaller and make something simpler?

Natalie
 
If this is your first filmmaking adventure, you'd be best off buying a camera and some basic gear - doesn't have to be anything fancy - and make a few shorts for no money. Get a feel for things. Then pull out the script again and ask what you think you could make it for :)
 

directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
Here's what I feel nervous about: I want to try not to spend any more than $1,000 on making the whole thing but don't think that'll be enough for everything. Maybe a camera, mics, lights, food, and a very small crew?
Don't spend money on equipment. Yet. Ask people who have equipment
to help you. An aspiring DP who owns a camera and a few lights. An
aspiring audio person who owns some gear.

I do want to submit it to film festivals and/or upload it to websites where you gotta pay to watch movies and also make a trailer and put it on YouTube.
Make sure you have a budget for festival submissions. Where do YOU pay
to watch short films?

Mind you, I'm not in a rush to make this particular film. Something is telling me to just finish the script and then shelf it until i can afford to make it and work on something less complex.But there is a part of me that believes I can pull that off with a grand in hand.
It's an excellent idea to finish the script. With careful management of money
I, too, believe you can make a good short film for a grand.

My question to you guys is should I start even smaller and make something simpler?
In general that's a wise move. Finish this script. If you find it's too complex
to make for a grand then write one that is a little smaller and simpler.
 
Nothing yet

Then make something very simple that can be shot in 1 or 2 days, recuires no other money than food and drinks and doesn't take months to edit.
This way you can have fun without worrying over the money (or even wasting it), get some experience and see whether you actually like doing this. The outcome may not be perfect, but you will learn from it and grow. And since you won't have spent $1,000 on it, it's no disaster if your first short sucks :P

It's like learning to draw as a todler: even if your parents would have spent a $1000 on pencils, you first drawing would still look like your first drawing ;)

Keep it simple with locations and gear you have access to.
Keep it short.
Have fun.
Learn.
Repeat.

This way you'll learn without wasting money because of lack of experience.
 
Don't spend money on equipment. Ask people who have equipment to help you. An aspiring DP who owns a camera and a few lights. An aspiring audio person who owns some gear.


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Your job is to direct films, not be a gear hound. Use your money to retain talented people - or at least more knowledgeable people. At the end of your $1k do you want a solid short or a bunch of gear that will be gathering dust for six months?

As a mentor told me - "If you don't use it every day you can't afford it."
 
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If this is your first filmmaking adventure, you'd be best off buying a camera and some basic gear - doesn't have to be anything fancy - and make a few shorts for no money. Get a feel for things. Then pull out the script again and ask what you think you could make it for :)

I disagree about buying a camera or any gear.
If you have never made a single video it is silly to invest in gear, because you might never even touch it, regret the gear choices you made later, oruse it once only to discover you don't like filmmaking at all.

It's beter to use what is available.
Ask people with a camera to help.
Use a smartphone.
Whatever.

That way you can truly make a few shorts for (almost) no money.
If you still like it after that, you'll know much better what you want and what you need when it comes to gear. And then you still don't need to buy stuff.

FWIW, I shot my first video in 2000 on a webcam (in black and white at 14fps and a resolution of approximatey 240p): It looked like the no budget pulp crap it was, but it was tremendous fun. I loved to proces of thinking, writing, storyboarding, shooting and editing and I still do :)
If I had bought an Hi8 camcorder the framerate and resolution would have been higher, but it would still be the same amateuristic crap. :P
 
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directorik

IndieTalk's Resident Guru
indiePRO
I disagree about buying a camera or any gear.
Please explain where we disagree.

You say it is silly to invest in gear. My advice to Natalie was to not
invest any of the $1,000 budget in gear.
You say it's better to use what is available. My advice to Natalie
was to work with people who own gear. In other words; gear
that is available.

As you read I qualified my statement with "yet". If she decides in
the future that owning a camera, mic and lights is important then
that's a fine choice.


If you still like it after that, you'll know much better what you want and what you need when it comes to gear. And then you still don't need to buy stuff.
We agree. Even if a writer/producer/director decides they like making
movies and they have learned what they want and what they need
they do not need to buy gear.

So what do you disagree with?

With a $1,000 budget for a first film I say it's better to find the people
who own the gear, inspire them to help with a great attitude and "pay"
them by feeding them on set and offering them a nice short film that
showcases their talent and skill.
 
I just made a short film for exactly $1000 and I can tell you we barely made it happen despite the fact that we didn't have to pay for any camera equipment.

I can not even imagine finding a mental hospital location for that budget, let alone paying for all the props, set design, food, and if you're paying crew and actors.

I'm am VERY thrifty and can stretch a dollar like crazy on set, but barely pulled this latest film off. I guess without seeing your script there's no way to know for sure, but just based on that location I'd say you'll need more money.

Take the advice above and don't spend any money of gear for yourself, reach out to filmmakers that own gear already and make a film together.
 
I do want to submit it to film festivals and/or upload it to websites where you gotta pay to watch movies ... there is a part of me that believes I can pull that off with a grand in hand.

You don't need to have that part of you surgically removed, but you do need to put it to the back of your mind! :)

Making a short for $1k with the aim of getting it into a film festival is entirely realistic. There are over 10,000 film festivals in the world and the majority of them cater to hobbyist and/or lo budget amateur filmmakers. Where you are going to run into serious problems is when hoping/expecting to get people to pay to watch your short. There are avenues where you can get people to pay to watch shorts but we're talking about the very best shorts, top film festival, Oscar nominated shorts made with substantial budgets by the most talented and experienced/highly educated filmmakers. This aim of yours is entirely unrealistic or rather, entirely unrealistic at this early stage in your filmmaking development.

If the short you want to make is "complex" then obviously you're increasing your chances of things going wrong which you don't yet have the experience to overcome. Starting even smaller and simpler may well be the wisest decision but only you can answer this question. Only you know how complex your short is, how well you are able to handle things going wrong and how painful loosing $1,000 would be, should it go completely pear-shaped.

Whatever you decide, I agree with the advice to find/hire people with the gear rather buying it yourself. You already have more than enough to do and think about without concerning yourself with the complexities of gear purchase and ownership. At some stage, buying all the gear yourself *might* be the right move but that's not a question you should attempt to answer until you've got experience under your belt.

G
 
I don't want to use a camera phone to shoot the movie. I want to use an actual movie camera but I won't spend any money on equipment. I will hire a crew who already have equipment on hand.

As far as writing it goes, the horror-thriller creepy abandoned hospital plotline I had originally planned is being scrapped but saved for one of my later films. It's too elaborate and complex and I can already tell I won't be able to do the whole thing in the short amount of time I had planned for the short.

I just want to make the short as a basis for starting my filmmaking career. I decided on a $1000 budget because then that way I don't have to worry about asking investors for money and paying them back later. There was this short film I really want to see called Naomi's Web that was made for only $500. I've been looking everywhere for it but I can't for the life of me find it. That was Don Abernathy's first film (as far as I can recall researching) and that grossed out like $400,000 according to what I learned about it.

I was thinking maybe it would be cool for me to gross my $1,000 back and even cooler to gross enough money to make another movie without investor funding.
 
There was this short film I really want to see called Naomi's Web that was made for only $500. I've been looking everywhere for it but I can't for the life of me find it. That was Don Abernathy's first film (as far as I can recall researching) and that grossed out like $400,000 according to what I learned about it.

I'm not sure how well versed you are in Googling, but I thought I'd help inform you of what I quickly learned. Naomi's Web was indeed made for 500$ in 2000, as that's the release date I'll assume he most likely started production in 1999.

The part I'd like to note you failed to accurately find is that he grossed 2.5 million by 2002.

Found this out using IMDb http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0243441/

Also I found the film for you to watch http://www.amazon.com/Naomis-Web-Don-Abernathy/dp/B0002M0NA8

You can buy it for 86 cents...


I was thinking maybe it would be cool for me to gross my $1,000 back and even cooler to gross enough money to make another movie without investor funding.

Now let me inform you of why trying to repeat what Abernathy did is implausible for you to duplicate.

You're making a short. Naomi's Web is no short, which makes me wonder why IMDb has it labeled as such. With a runtime of 88 minutes it's a feature film.

As a feature film this had value to be made onto VHS, which at the time was the only means of distribution. He convinced someone to take a chance on his film and pay a large sum of money to do a distribution (This deal I assume lead to this person getting out of the industry for some reason. As the distribution company's first and last release is Naomi's Web.)

You can not reasonably make a short and put it on DVD or BluRay and expect people to buy it. Even VOD you can expect not to recover your $1000 dollars... there is plenty of articles and threads about this you can find.

There isn't a market for shorts. Is there even a demand? No not really. Only the film community looks for shorts, unless it's DC or Marvel, the average film consumer only stumbles upon shorts, doesn't look for them.

Am I saying you shouldn't make a short? Oh god no. Shorts are pretty essential to learning filmmaking. You spend a shorter amount of time and less money to make the mistakes you're bound to make eventually. And you WANT to have and learn from these mistakes now instead of later.

I'd really recommend against a thousand dollars on a short... unless you've done a few previously and feel that this one is going to be festival worthy of some sort. Festivals are were you'll attract investors with your skill displayed in the short in order to fund a feature. That's the best case outcome of making a short... gaining the respect of a money man.
 
Well, to be fare, I have seen shorts make it to the VOD market but in listening to what you and everyone else is say, the people who make those short films are experienced in filmmaking already.

In case you're wondering, I did find that link as I was looking for where I could watch Naomi's Web--which by the way I'll safely assume was made in April 1998 as I found a page where Abernathy posted an ad where he was looking for sound people for the movie where he said it'll go into production for a few days in that month and year--but 1.) it wasn't available when I first saw that link and 2.) i wanted to see if there was somewhere i could watch it on the internet.

And I knew IMBd erroneously labeled Naomi's Web as either a short or having a runtime of 88 minutes as a movie that goes for that long is not a short like you said. :lol:

What you said, SkyCopeland makes much more sense. I didn't intend for my short to go to DVD or Blu-Ray. Like I said, I want this short to just be a starting point to begin my career.

*sighs in irritation*

I lower the budget to $500 and post it on YouTube for free. At least then that way $500 shouldn't take me as long to save. I'm saving for a new laptop and new phone anyway.
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
I don't want to use a camera phone to shoot the movie. I want to use an actual movie camera but I won't spend any money on equipment. I will hire a crew who already have equipment on hand.

That's great. I found someone with a camcorder and made my first short with their help. We still work together, but I think I got lucky.

If you don't find anyone then consider using a cell phone camera. Mine records in HD and actually gets really crisp images. You'll need something else for audio though.

Finally - Short films don't make money.
Wait til you find out how hard it is to get anyone to watch it at all! Even for free.

Many of us work very hard with many hours of marketing to get any views at all.
There is no shortage of content for people to watch on the internet or TV.
 
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