Zero budget film making
We often face the budgetary problem while making films. A film enthusiast wants to sit behind the camera, shoot a film and showcase to the world. It would be nice if the film maker gets some appreciation but the problem strikes right at the beginning, how to get the money to make the film? Have you ever imagined why does it cost money to make a film, a film is a piece of video right? You never thought of money or funding when you shot your first video of your family with your first camera, so why does it take money to shoot a film. The answer lies in what is not very subtle difference between a home or privately recorded video and a short film for instance. You can say right away that one is a film, which is aesthetically shot and the other is not. But hey, we are not talking about the techniques of videography here right? But it is actually something more. Imagine you have to organise a picnic, so for that you hav to invite people, book a vehicle big enough to accommodate all the people you have invited, reach the selected location, organise a One Day program, let us say, play a cricket match, for that you have to carry the necessary equipments. Now at the afternoon, you have to organise for lunch, which means a cook, ingredients for cooking, plates and dishes for everyone, etc. After lunch, say you have arranged a certain game, where everybody have to cooperate with each other, your job is to keep things organised and most importantly in time, because you or your friends cannot afford to have another day of such expensive venture. Film making often becomes something like that picnic, you have to bring a whole lot of people in one place (a chosen location for shooting), bring all the equipments necessary for the shoot, often these equipments are quite expensive, even getting them on rent can cost you a lot (considering the usage time you get with it), the most difficult part is to keep things according to the plan amidst such chaos of managing, actors, crews and taking proper care of the expensive equipments in outdoor locations, shooting on time in correct light and weather, etc. After all this, you need to edit the footages you shot, which again costs money, as you have to afford a capable editing system and all the related post production works to finally prepare the movie you wanted. So all these costs money, thus it turns out to be an expensive business to deal with.
Many new filmmakers face this monetary problem, hard to convince their parents to allow them to spend money on a project which has no guaranteed return, hard to make people understand that they need that money to make the next cinematic masterpiece, so when all the options fade out, one resort to crowdfunding, which is a great thing, but will you pay anybody who comes to you and asks to fund their project? When you are unable to convince your own parents, how on earth you expect to convince unknown people. Although people do achieve success through crowdfunding but one need to convince these angel investors that the content of the film is super strong and will have a great impact on the society. If it is your first film then chances will look thin the moment they ask you about your previous work experience. But no one borns with a portfolio, right? Every filmmaker has one thing in common, their 'First film'.
So how will you make your first film when you are unable to receive proper funding for your project?
Now let us share with you an interesting idea we believe in. We believe one can make a good standard film with absolutely zero budget. Let us tell you how and why?
Firstly, you need to choose a story or plot which is really strong. Strong in terms of narrative aspects. The story is and always was the central character of the cinema. No matter how much one spends on film production, if the story is not captivating, then everything else falls apart. So select a story which you think will make a good film and you can portray it without any necessary budgeting or scheduling.
Secondly, you need a camera, be it a digital SLR, point and shoot or a smartphone capable of taking good quality video (at least of 1080p resolution). Now you have a camera that can record video footages, although this doesn't sound exciting but just imagine that master filmmaker Satyajit Ray didn't have a similar technology in his pocket, he had to rent a camera and buy film stocks (which were very expensive) to shoot even a single footage. That too not of the same resolution your phone is capable of recording. So think it in that way, never take anything for granted. You have a wonderful camera in your pocket which can shoot amazing videos.
Thirdly, choose a location which you have access to, say in or around where you live, or the street nearby, or by the riverside, or the open fields at the backside of your house. Remember you don't always need a grand set to make a good and decent film. Just plan properly.
Fourthly, ask your parents, brothers, sisters, close friends, relatives, etc. to act in your film. Hopefully they will not charge you any fee. You can also put up posts on social media platforms for auditions. You will be amazed to find that there are many aspirants who want to act in films just to enhance their experience and portfolio for free.
Fifthly, after you set up your actors, locations and also shot the footages you needed to tell your story, you need to edit your film. After the advent of non-linear editing systems, film editing has become far more intuitive and easy. All you need is a computing machine (desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone) and an editing application. Although we have certain industry standard editing systems like Avid Media Composer, Apple Final Cut Pro X, Adobe Premiere Pro, etc. but one can edit a decent film even in Windows Movie Maker or iMovie. There are other film editing softwares which you can acquire for free like Avid Media Composer First, DaVinci Resolve, Lightworks, HitFilm Express, Shotcut, and many more. All these softwares provide much more than what you want from your video editing system and please never go for pirated versions of paid softwares, always be honest to every aspect of your work. This is a boon for aspiring filmmakers because in earlier days, when movies were cut in systems like Moviola and Steenbeck, they were highly expensive and even the process of literally cutting film roles frame by frame and then join them together with a special kind of tape was painstaking, cumbersome and time consuming. Now all you need is an app to edit, cut (thus the arrival of the virtual version of the word into this digital world), trim and export your movie.
Sixthly, in this day and age, you have access to a worldwide audience, through video streaming services like Youtube, Vimeo, Amazon, Netflix, Hulu, etc. You can promote your film through your social media accounts. Thus the technology has given us an opportunity to distribute our own films at our own terms.
Seventhly, you can even sell your movies to paid streaming partners who either pays you an upfront fee or on the basis of pay per view.
Finally, and most importantly, luck. One need to be very hard working and equally lucky to get noticed in this crowd of ever growing talented filmmakers. Everyone has access to the above mentioned technologies these days, thus allowing more people to get into filmmaking, thereby raising the competition to new heights. Remember, nobody sets out to make a bad film, everyone works tremendously hard on their films, nurture and nourish their movies like their kids, but one need to be extremely lucky to get noticed and to get appreciation for the films they made.
So we at AI Film Wizards Entertainment are trying to make films with absolutely negligible budget yet striving to achieve the same cinematic quality that we see on big screens. For us, its like an exploration where we set out to find how much we can push ourselves to make an industry standard film with indigenous tools, home made techniques and very accessible pieces of technologies.
Thank you for reading. Stay well and stay tuned.