Low Budget Filmmaking: Roadmap To Making Your Dream Film a Reality | Dean Peterson | Skillshare
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Low Budget Filmmaking: Roadmap To Making Your Dream Film a Reality

teacher avatar Dean Peterson, Writer/director/producer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Introduction

      2:07

    • 2.

      Getting Started

      3:29

    • 3.

      First Things First

      3:09

    • 4.

      Writing Your Movie

      6:03

    • 5.

      Funding Your Movie

      7:01

    • 6.

      Starting Pre-Production

      2:21

    • 7.

      Getting On Set

      9:25

    • 8.

      Shooting Your Movie

      5:05

    • 9.

      The Pact

      2:31

    • 10.

      Final Thoughts

      0:47

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About This Class

Take that film idea you’ve had in your head for years and turn it into a reality!

Award-winning director Dean Peterson will take the big, scary process of making your first feature film and break it down into manageable, easy to understand steps. When Dean made his first movie for $10,000, he had nobody to give him any tips or advice. Now, after writing and directing three feature films he wants to share all the lessons he's learned along the way.

Through exercises and examples you'll learn:

  • How to write an engaging script that’s feasible to shoot
  • All the different options for finding money for your project
  • Pre-production and budgeting
  • Tips for being on set
  • How to direct actors

Plus, this class includes downloadable resources including lists of grants, film recommendations, and a roadmap to guide you along the way.

This class is for anyone who's ever dreamed of making a feature film without the Hollywood budget. By the end you'll have taken your first, concrete step towards making your movie dreams a reality. You'll have all the tools and knowledge to begin shooting your first feature within one year from today! 

All that you’ll need to follow along is a printer to print the provided materials. If you don’t have a printer, just grab a notebook or piece of paper and a pen.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Dean Peterson

Writer/director/producer

Top Teacher

Dean Peterson is a writer, director, and producer based in Los Angeles, CA.

He has written and directed three feature films: INCREDIBLY SMALL, WHAT CHILDREN DO, and KENDRA AND BETH. He also was the cinematographer on the film GLOB LESSONS. His films have played at dozens of festivals around the world.

As a video producer he has worked with Vox, Conde Nast, CNBC, Reddit, B&H, and Facebook.

He also created the viral TikTok account Sink Reviews.

He has two cats who do not get along very well.

Check out more of his work at his website.

See full profile

Level: All Levels

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: So many people want to make a feature film or think that they should make one, but they don't. That script that you wrote collects dust and before you know it, another year has gone by without it getting made. I know that feeling so well. Hi. I'm Dean Peterson, and I'm a filmmaker in Brooklyn, New York. Over the course of my career, I've made three low-budget feature films, which have played at dozens of festivals around the world. I did pit another film that premiered at Tribeca, and edited another that premiered at South by Southwest. I've also made a bunch of short films along the way. Today, I'm going to walk you through step-by-step how to shoot your first low-budget feature film. This class is for you, if you've had the idea lingering in the back of your mind that you've wanted to make a feature film, but you've never taken the plunge. Maybe you didn't know where to start, or you were worried that you didn't have enough money, or maybe you just didn't think that you could. This class will pull back the curtain and give you the roadmap to making a low-budget scrappy film. Our goal here is to get your movie shot, no matter what. But the advice I'll give applies to anybody, no matter if you have $10 or $10 million. Although if you have a budget of $10 million, what are you doing here? We're going to start off with writing a script that's engaging and feasible to shoot on a small budget. Then we'll talk about making a budget, and scraping together enough money to shoot your movie. Then we'll finish it out with talking about the fun stuff, shooting your movie. I'll give you tips for making production as smooth and stress-free as possible. Then we'll briefly touch on what will happen after you've got the film in the can. For this class, all you'll need is a desire to shoot your first film. I've also included some worksheets in the class Resources section that you can print off and follow along with. But if you don't have a printer, don't worry about it. Just grab a notebook and a pen, and that'll do. You will leave this class with all the tools and inspiration you'll need to get down to business and to shoot your film, and you will shoot your film. By the time you're done here, you will have taken your first concrete step towards making that dream that's just been kicking around your head into a reality. It's time to stop waiting around and to start making your movie. Buckle up, and let's get started. [MUSIC] 2. Getting Started: First things first, why am I teaching this class? Well, when I went to film school, I was always taught that in order to make a featured film, you needed a sound stage. You needed a huge crew. You needed millions of dollars, and that you needed to have spent decades climbing the ladder before you can direct. But when I graduated from college, I was bagging groceries in Chicago. I wanted to make a movie, but I didn't have access to any of that stuff. I definitely didn't want to wait until I was 50 to make a movie. But I didn't have anyone around me to tell me that you don't need a fancy sound stage to make a movie. When I finally started shooting my first film, incredibly small, I honestly had no idea what I was doing. I had to figure it out as I went. Because of that, I made so many embarrassing mistakes that I could have easily avoided if I had had somebody to just give me a little advice. I would have given anything to have a class like this back then. Giving me a few pointers from somebody who had been through the process before. I want to take all the knowledge and wisdom that I have gained plus the mistakes I've made over a decade of film making and give it to you. The fact is you don't need a sound stage and a 50 person crew to shoot a movie. You can make one with whatever resources you have available to you. I'm going to lead you through the process of shooting a low budget featured film. Giving you real-world examples from the three featured films that I've made. One final note to all this. This class is for how to shoot your movie. It doesn't cover any of the cost of post-production, of which there are plenty. I will cover all that and more in a future class. I keep saying low budget. You might be wondering what that actually means. It's pretty subjective. People say that Moonlight was low budget, but their budget was reportedly $1.5 million, which for the incredible things that they did and the Oscars that they won is a low budget. But $1.5 million is also a lot of money. I would love $1.5 million, as I'm sure you would too. The Screen Actors Guild defines low budget as films with the budget between $700,000 and $2 million. But that's also not the low budget that I'm talking about either. For the purposes of this class, let's define low budget as films made for below $100,000. That could mean $90,000, or that could mean $1,000. It's a wide range, but the principles will still apply no matter what. Don't freak out if you're nowhere near $100,000. Inherent within the nature of low budget is not having enough. You're forced to squeeze blood out of a stone. That's exactly what you will learn to do in this class. Full disclosure. Yes, it's going to be a lot of work. Your first movie will definitely not be perfect, but shooting your first film will be one of the best, most exciting experiences of your life. In the class resources section, you'll find a PDF that includes everything you'll need for this class. It contains a few exercises, some film recommendations for inspiration, and a super important document that you'll need for the final lesson. If you have a printer, print this out and have it on hand. Apparently young people don't have printers anymore. If you don't, no worries, just reference the PDF on whatever device you're watching this on. Now that we've got all that other way, let's roll up our sleeves and get started. Next up, we're going to talk about one of the scariest parts. Setting your start date. [MUSIC] 3. First Things First: Let's start with something that you probably already know yourself. Making a movie is hard and scary, especially if it's your first one. It's easy to come up with a million reasons for why you're not ready. You don't have enough money, your script isn't good enough, you don't know any filmmakers who can help you. Those are all valid reasons but the good news is, those are all problems that can be fixed within a matter of months. I know from personal experience that it's possible to keep kicking the can down the road until you wake up one day and realize that years have passed and you still haven't made your movie. I have definitely fallen victim to this. What I realized on my first film was that in order to actually get it made, you have to set a date that you're going to start shooting on and start operating as if that's going to happen no matter what. Take the worksheet labeled roadmap, look at your calendar and we're going to choose a date. I would say that 8-10 months is enough time, but it has to be within a year. You have no excuse to not start shooting or movie within one year from today. Say that today is January 1st, we're going to say that October 1st, my birthday, is the first day of production. Congratulations, you now have a date that you're going to start shooting. Here's the key though you have to act as if you're actually going to begin shooting on that date. You can not be wishy-washy about it. One great way to do this is by telling your friends and family about it. Say, hey, I'm going to start shooting my movie on October 1st. When you put it out into the world, you'll be shocked by who will come out of the woodwork to offer help and support. The other benefit of doing this is that if October 1st comes and goes and you haven't started shooting your movie, you will be humiliated. Shame is an amazing motivator. For my second movie, I was scared to set a date because I was going to have to quit my job, append my life, and actually put my money where my mouth was literally. To force myself, I cut a check for half the cost of our main location and lodging, which was thousands of dollars and after that, there was no turning back. I had no choice but to be all in. The most important part about getting started, do not wait for anybody's permission or for some golden ticket to land on your lap. I'll tell you a tiny little secret. The film industry is full of well-meaning but ultimately harmful gatekeepers who will say to you, you should shoot this movie for $500,000 or you need to cast this or that famous person, or don't shoot your movie on that camera. Unless those people are willing to do concrete, actionable things to help you achieve that stuff, tune them out. Theodore Roosevelt had a quote that said, "Do what you can with what you have, where you are." He may have never made a movie, but he knew what he was talking about. Now it's your turn, take your calendar out, pick a date that's within one year and set a day to start shooting and then mark it down here on the roadmap in permanent ink. Next step, I'm going to give you some tips for how to write the perfect low budget script [MUSIC] 4. Writing Your Movie: We've got a date, you're going to start shooting, but now you need a script to shoot, or maybe you've already started writing one and want some tips to improve it. This advice will apply to either scenario. I'm not going to tell you how to write a script that's a whole other class for another time, I just want to offer a few tips for writing that will make your script a little better and a little bit easier for you to shoot. The key to this is to remember that everything that you write on the page, you're going to have to execute during the shoot, you not somebody else. The first thing that you should do is think about locations that you have access to for free. Locations can be really expensive. But if you're creative and you call in a few favors, you can get major production value without having to spend a dime.The goal with low budget movies is always to make it look like it cost more than it actually did. If you're strapped for cash and as independent filmmakers, we all are, don't set your movie in outer space for God's sake. But if your friend's mom is a doctor and will let you shoot in an exam room for free, think of a scene you can set there or do your grandparents friends have a roof deck that overlooks a river? That could be a great place to set your breakup scene in Act 2. Try to get creative and work with what you've got access to. Similar to locations, think about props that you have access to for free as well. Does your uncle that's having a midlife crisis have a vintage Porsche? Does a girl that you went to high school with have a boyfriend with a huge big foot statue in his backyard? Again, adding things that you can use for free will save you huge amounts of money and make your movie seem bigger and more expensive than it is. Aside from not writing in crazy locations that you don't have access to, there are other ways that you can make it easy for yourself down the road. The first way to do that is by not setting your movie in 80 different locations. I know that this may be tempting, and for your second movie, if you have more money and a huge crew, I say, go for it. But we're being scrappy here. Eighty locations in your script means 80 places you need to find, get permission to shoot in and potentially pay for. Switching locations takes tons of valuable time and energy. If you can set your movie in three or four main locations, your shoot will be much smoother. That way you can focus on creating instead of packing gear into your trunk and driving. This next tip should seem obvious, but to some, it isn't. Don't include things in your script that are difficult to shoot. This includes shooting on water, having small children or animals in the scenes, and doing crazy stunts. These things all might be appealing and they might seem like they'll look cool, but they'll slow you down and make your shoot much harder than it needs to be. Another thing is to not have too many characters. Again, every additional character is a person that you have to cast, schedule and feed. Can you make your movie with four locations and three characters? Now we're talking. Time for you to try this out. Grab a piece of paper and spend a few minutes brainstorming things that you think you can get access to for free. We're going to break this up into four different categories ; props, locations, people, and other. I'm going to take a minute to work on mine while you do yours. [MUSIC] Here are a few that I came up with. For props, my friend Joe has a vintage piano that he would probably let me use, so maybe I could make one of my characters a musician. My friend Bradley has a surfboard, so there might be a cool beach surfing scene I could put in. My friend Anna has a tandem bike, which is comedy golden every movie. For locations, my friend James has a rooftop patio, so maybe I could set a scene there during golden hour, that would look really cool. I know somebody that has a house that's a geodesic dome, that could definitely be something. My friend Katie has a cabin. For people, I put a guy I used to work with speaks French, Italian, and Spanish, that can be a cool character in the movie. Then for other, I know somebody that works at a brewery, so maybe they can either let me shoot there or they could maybe get us free beer for the shoot. This is just an exercise to get you thinking about things in your life that you have access to, you're definitely not locked into any of this stuff. I would suggest you just brainstorm and see what you come up with and it's a good place to start. This will not only make it easier for you to shoot, but it will make your script a richer as well. The scene that set in an old barn is a lot more interesting than one set in a bedroom with white walls. The unfortunate reality is that a lot of times when people watch your movie, especially film festival programmers, if you don't hook them right away, they might turn it off and move to the next film. People's time is really valuable and they won't always give you the benefit of the doubt. So unless you have Brad Pitt in your movie, you need to use the first five minutes of your film to grab people's attention. Spend a lot of time thinking about what the first few scenes of your movie are. Or even the first shot. How can you hook somebody who's watching your movie that doesn't know anything about you or your film. I would recommend watching lots of movies and taking note of how they start the film. What was the opening shot? How does it draw you in or not draw you in? My final piece of advice is to spend extra time on your script. Writing is one of the few parts of filmmaking that are free so you can do it as much as you want and for as long as you want. Have people that you trust to read your script and see what they say. You might even want to get friends together and do a table read, where you'd go through the script and read it all the way through with different people playing the parts. It's a great way to see how things sound out loud and to get a feel for the flow of your script. Go ahead and complete this exercise and I'll meet you in the next lesson where we're going to talk about the most important and terrifying part of filmmaking, money. [MUSIC] 5. Funding Your Movie: Money. [NOISE] Sorry, that's actually prop money. I wish It was real money though. The inevitable fact is that you will need money to make your movie. How much do you need, that depends. Like I said in the last lesson, if you have a million characters, locations and you need horses, your budget might be bigger. If you don't know how to figure it out, don't worry about it. I've provided a budget template that you can feel free to use, just plugging the details and it will tell you approximately how much you're looking at. If you already have a camera and some gear, you could conceivably shoot your movie for literally no money. But you might want to spend a little bit more than that so let's talk about it. First things first, how do you get this money? I'll lay out a few options. You could do crowdfunding, like Kickstarter or Indiegogo. This is a popular avenue for a lot of filmmakers and it can be a good one. But word to the wise, crowdfunding campaigns are much harder than you think that they are. Trust me, I've run two successful campaigns and my first film was actually the first feature film to successfully do a Kickstarter. Crowdfunding will require you to beg, plead with, and annoy every single person you've ever met multiple times over the course of a month. It's honestly pretty brutal and frustrating and it will test the bonds of your friendships. But it is one good option that many people have found success with. This next option also requires that you annoy everybody that you know and love and that is to try to hit up your friends and family for money the good old fashioned way. I'd suggest putting together a little packet explaining what the movie is about and what your vision is for it so that they're not just getting a text from you that says money, include a description of the film, what your plans are for it, and some images that are going to give them inspiration for what you're going for. Take these from movies you're inspired by or from Pinterest. Having friends or family that can give you money is admittedly a pretty privileged option that's not available to everybody. But again, a little goes a long way and even if they can't support you financially, perhaps there are other non-monetary ways that can help you out. At the very least, there'll be excited to hear about your project. Another option is to get people to invest in your project. This is the trickiest option since investors aren't just giving you money out of the goodness of their heart. They expect to get their money back and earn some. If you're interested in this, I would definitely recommend that you speak to a lawyer who can walk you through the process since you can get in serious legal trouble if you don't do things by the book. Another good option is grants. There are tons of organizations that offer grants to filmmakers and artists. There are grants for specific groups like female filmmakers, LGBTQ filmmakers, regionally specific filmmakers, and others. I've included a list of some of the major grants available, but do some of your own research online and see if you qualify for any of them. These can be super helpful but they do require lots of work and usually a very lengthy and involved application. The final option, which I think is actually one of the best sometimes is to save up and pay for your movie yourself. This is another privileged drought that not everybody will be able to do and it may limit you since you're probably not going to be able to save tons of money. But it also offers you the most freedom. If you're paying for the project yourself, you don't have to answer to anyone. Want to name a movie, Shaquille O'Neal is my Father, go for it. Nobody can stop you. I personally have invested my own money into every project I've ever made, ranging from part of the budget to all of it for some. How did I do it? For my first film, I move back into my mom's house and worked at a liquor store, saving every single penny that I made. For my second film, I edited workout infomercials to help fund it. For my third film, I saved a third of every single paycheck that I got for two years. It's definitely not the most fun option, but you also aren't waiting around for anyone to cut you a check in order to be able to make your film. Now that you've got some amount of money to shoot your film, let's talk more about the budget. Your budget will include many things that you probably already imagine, food, prompts, etc. But it should also include something that's called a contingency. What is a contingency? It's for things that will pop up unexpectedly during production that costs money, where you guys throwing around a football between takes and smashed the neighbor's window, you're going to have to pay for that. Did it start to rain and you need to buy 15 umbrellas for the crew. You're also going to need to pay for them. Since you probably didn't have those items in your budget, that's where the contingency comes in. I tried to have a contingency of at least 15 percent of the total budget. Twenty percent would be great to be on the safe side. Just know that you will need this money even and especially if you think you don't. Insurance is another item in the budget that is not fun or sexy, but that you need anyways. It's like a contingency where you really need to get it even if you think that you don't. Insurance also does not need to be crazy expensive either. But no matter how much it costs, it will be worth it if, God forbid something catastrophic happens while shooting. You do not want to be in debt for the rest of your life because you did not spring for insurance. Film Emporium, Fractured Atlas and Frankel and Associates are all reputable, affordable sources of insurance for film shoots. Do a little bit of research online and see which company and policy works best for you. SAG, or the Screen Actors Guild is the main actors union for TV and film. Many actors are SAG, meaning if you want to cast them, you'll need to follow a few SAG rules. These aren't all of them, but here are just a few. The minimum day rate for SAG is $211 per day. This is what you'll have to pay each actor who's in the union. SAG also has a bunch of paperwork that you'll need to fill out and you need to file it at least 4-6 weeks before you start shooting so make sure to plan ahead and do not wait until the last minute. If you're going to cast SAG actors, you're going to need to use a payroll company to pay them. There are a bunch of them and like insurance, the cost isn't crazy. I find that it's also worth it since they handle lots of confusing and annoying financial paperwork, as well as all the tax filings in April. Checkout, ABS payroll. I've used them for every single film that I've made and they're great. There are lots and lots of other SAG rules that you'll also have to follow and I've included a link to the full list below. One way around these rules is to cast non-union actors. If you cast actors that aren't in SAG then, you can do whatever you want, although you still have to treat them well and you should still pay them. Just know that if you go the non-union route, you will severely limit the pool of talent that you can pull from. But if that doesn't bother you, then by all means go for it. Budgeting can seem overwhelming and is definitely not the sexiest part of the filmmaking process. Just know that even if you're going to shoot a movie in four days with your buddies and a borrowed camera, making a budget is still a good idea. It'll help you lay everything out that you'll need for the shoot and ensure that nothing pops up during production that you didn't anticipate. Now it's your turn. Download the budget template and start filling it in. I'll meet you in the next lesson where we're going to talk about doing pre-production. [MUSIC] 6. Starting Pre-Production: Before we get to production, let's take a second to talk about pre-production. The first thing to know is that like writing, pre-production is free, so spend as much sweat equity as you can to save time and money on set. The first thing every director needs to do is know the script inside and out. One of the things you'll do most as a filmmaker is to answer questions. Do we need that slip and slide for scene 14? Why does my character say that to her husband in the bedroom scene? Do you want their makeup to look like this or do you want it to look like that? All day, you'll be answering people's questions, so read your script over and over and know it by heart. Another thing you can do to prepare is to make a scene-by-scene breakdown of the script. Make a spreadsheet of all the scenes, whatever it is, 1-100. Include the following information, the scene number, the location, whether it takes place during day or night, a description of what happens in the scene, how many pages the scene is, which day of the shoot it's on, a list of which characters are in the scene, and what props you need for the scene. If you make this in Google Sheets, then you'll have a searchable, sortable database which will help you stay organized and efficient. Storyboarding is another tool that can help you plan and organize the movie. You make a sketch of each shot of the movie and a description of the camera movement. Personally, I am terrible at drawing, [NOISE] so I usually just make a shot list. I like to include information like if it's a wide, medium, or close-up, if there's any movement, if it's handheld or if it's on a tripod, and roughly how long I think it will take to shoot it. Doing this forces you to envision how you see the movie playing out. This is really important, even if you don't use the shot list on set because you'll pre-visualize all the shots of your film and you won't just be winging it on set. This will also help you on the day of the shoot to know everything that you need to get. Once you've got all these documents along with a copy of your script, put them in a sturdy binder and get used to carrying it with you wherever you go. This will be your brain on set and you will reference it dozens of times throughout the day. Now, we've covered pre-production, let's move on to being on set with production. [MUSIC] 7. Getting On Set: We're here, onto everyone's favorite part of filmmaking, production. This is when you're on set, out in the field making movies, baby. It's fun, but it's also a lot of work. Let's break down what you'll need in terms of gear. You should just shoot your movie on whatever camera you have access to. Digital cameras these days are so good that the image quality would make Orson Welles brain melt. You really don't need to spend an arm and a leg to get good image quality. As of shooting this, you can get a used Panasonic G7 on KEH.com for 300 bucks. It's 4K and it's video looks really great. Or guess what? Iphone cameras are insane. Lots of high-end movies have been shot on an iPhone, and they even make cool anamorphic adapters to give it a more unique look. The point being, don't stress about the camera. Just as important as the image, sound is incredibly important in your movie. See how that bad sound effected that. Sound is one of the most important things to think about, and it can also be one of the most expensive. Sound people do not come cheap, but it's definitely a worthwhile expenditure if you have it in your budget. You can definitely have one of your friends run sound. Just know that it may require some more work and potentially re-recording some of the dialogue once you get to post. One way you can avoid this and help yourself in the edit is to get as many sound assets on set as you can. This way you won't have to work to match the sound when you do Foley later on in a different location. If there's a dialogue scene with a ton of movement, say for instance, two of your characters are wrestling around on the ground. Make sure to also record them doing the lines without moving. So you'll have a clean version of it to use without all the rustling. If you can get lots of Foley of things while on set, actors walking on creaky wooden floors, a bicycle going down the street, just whatever is happening in your scene, it'll help to have clean close-up recordings of them if you have the time to get it. Also room tone. After a scene, have everyone stands still and record 20 seconds of silence. This will help you when you're editing the sound and post. Another thing to grab if you have the time, is B-roll and establishing shots. If you're shooting in your neighbor's house that has a ton of cool knick-knacks, get a bunch of close-up shots of them. If you're shooting in a park and the sun looks cool, coming through the trees, grab a shot of it. These kind of shots are really useful when you're editing and they add texture to your film. Also be sure to get establishing shots of your locations. If you've ever scene in a church, try to grab an exterior while you're there. These are all things you can do later on, but there's so much easier to do while you're already there. So an example, I shot a movie in Fargo, North Dakota during the dead of winter. I tried to get as much B-roll as I could, but our schedule is pretty tight. So when the director started editing, they wanted to have a few more establishing shots. But by this time it was spring and we were in New York City, so there was no way to fake it. The more you can anticipate these things, and the more B-roll you can get while you're in the environment of the film, the better off you'll be. Unless you want to shoot your movie by yourself, which, hey, some people do, don't let me discourage you, then you'll need to hire crew members to help out. These can be your buddies doing you a favor or professionals that you hire depending on your budget and your needs. Here's a personal example. My first feature, Incredibly Small, the crew was me, a producer, a DP, a grip who helped out with lighting and camera, a sound person, and a PA. A ragtag, small setup like this can totally work. But just know that your actors will be doing their own makeup. Your producer, or more likely, you will be in charge of wardrobe and props, and you'll have to make sure you're ahead of time that everybody is on board with a scrappy production where they'll probably be asked to pitch in and help with things outside of their department. So all this sounds great, but you might be wondering, how do I find these people? One great option, especially if you're just starting out or operating on a shoestring budget, is to enlist your friends. Hard work and enthusiasm are often just as important as talent. So if you've got a few enterprising buddies, give them a job. If they don't know anything about film production, there are tons of videos online, including right here on Skillshare, for how to do every position on set. Friends are good because they may be more forgiving if it's your first film and more willing to put in the long hours that film shoots usually take. Let's just say for a moment that you maybe don't trust your buddy, Brent to hold the boom mic. Maybe you want to hire somebody. There are a lot of great resources for where to find crew members. Craigslist is one great option. You can post in the TV, film, video gig section and see who replies. Early on in my career, I found plenty of crew members this way. A lot of times the city, a state, or a region will have a local film board. These are really fantastic sources of not only potential crew members, but lists of grants to apply to, potential location photos, and people who can help you out in the production of your film. There are tons of other sites that are good resources. And there are far too many of them to mention here. But get creative. Make a post on Reddit, search the Vimeo for hire section. Look on YouTube for other people making stuff in your area and send them a message. The sky is very much the limit. Another way of finding help for your film is good old fashion asking around. Ask your friends if they know anyone, email a filmmaker from the area and ask for recommendations, make posts on Instagram or Twitter. The wider the net that you cast, the more options that you'll get. Another resources where you are right now, Skillshare, reach out to teachers who have classes about sound or cinematography or color correction. Maybe they're interested in helping or maybe they know somebody else who is or post in the discussion section here. I'm assuming that everyone who's watching this has the common bond of wanting to make a low budget movie. Wouldn't it be cool if you've got connected with other people to make a movie together? So feel free to use this platform to help make things happen for your film. Unless you and your crew have unlimited time to make your movie, you're going to need a schedule. There are a few things you need to keep in mind, with a small budget, time is not on your side. As the saying goes, time is money, and that is literally true here. Every day that you go over schedule is another day that you'll have to pay people, another day you have to feed everybody, and another day you have to potentially pay for locations. So our goal here is to shoot quickly. That said, and this bears repeating multiple times throughout this class. Safety is the utmost priority on a film set at all times. No film is worth the health and well-being of your cast and crew. So shoot fast, but shoot responsibly. On the same token, makes sure that you give your cast and crew enough time off. Typically there's a 12 hour turnaround, which means that crew needs at least 12 hours in-between rap time and the next call time. So if you wrap a shoot on Thursday at 10:00 PM, the earliest you should have the next call time is Friday at 10:00 AM. Also, make sure that cast and crew have days off during the shoot. Don't just shoot 18 days straight through with no days off in the middle. Tired cast and crew are not going to do good work. And when people don't get enough sleep, it can become dangerous. So give them time to rest, recharge, and play with their cat. Low budget filmmakers are some of the most resourceful, ingenious people on the planet. They can turn a cardboard box into a motorcycle or make Indiana look like Key West. They also know how to stretch a dollar as far as humanly possible. That said, there is one thing that you should never skimp on, and that is food. You need to feed your cast and crew well. These people are giving their time and effort often for free. So you need to show them your appreciation by providing good food. This means not just ordering pizza for every meal. Find a good cafe in your town and have people order sandwiches and salads. Give them something healthy that won't make them need to take a nap after lunch. Also, make sure to have plenty of snacks on hand. Bonus points if you don't just have a box and gummy snacks thrown onto a table like so many film productions. If you go the extra mile and spend the extra dollar to feed your cast and crew like royalty, they will repay you 10-fold. Just as important as eating is staying hydrated. I know from personal experience that it's possible to go all day on set without taking a single sip of water. I do this all the time. But if you don't stay hydrated, you're going to very quickly run out of energy and you will not be able to make your best decisions. So make sure that you and your cast and crew are well-hydrated. In order to not create a ton of single use plastic, give everyone a reusable water bottle and have them put their name on it. Plastic water bottles suck. Everything that I'm talking about here, it can be expensive. Food, gear, locations, but with a little extra work and politeness, you can potentially get a lot of them for free. Reach out to local restaurants and ask them if they'd provide free pizza for one of the lunches or free salads one day. In exchange, tell them that you'll put their name and logo in the credits. Or better yet, you'll feature their stored in the movie. Boom, you just got free lunch and a free location to shoot in. One thing I've always had good luck with is getting free beer. I'm not sure why, but breweries are usually very generous with low budget film productions. This is especially helpful at rap time when the cast and crew are unwinding. They'll be really thankful if you've got a few cases of beer for them to crack open after a long day shoot. [MUSIC] 8. Shooting Your Movie: If this is your first feature film, you might not have a ton of experience onset. If that's the case, here are a few helpful tips to remember to make your life easier. A lot of directors seem to be afraid of actors. They don't understand their process or are afraid of the questions that they ask. This does not need to be the case at all. They're people just like you or me, and you just need to learn how to communicate with them. The first thing that I would recommend is to keep your directions simple. Less is always more when directing actors. Instead of rambling on for minutes about the intention or what the character is going through, condense it down to a single short sentence or even a single word. One of the most powerful weapons in a director's arsenal is a firm grasp on the action verb. It gives actors something concrete to do. Instead of telling an actor, you're upset because your friend didn't show up to the wedding, so be really ****** and angry. You can simply say punisher or explode. Another thing that a lot of directors shy away from is listening to actors ideas. I think that directors can feel threatened, like their vision is being undermined or something. But this is silly. I found over and over again that actors have great ideas for their characters and scenes. After all, they've thought about this character more than anybody. Encourage actors to come to you with ideas and really listen to them. Even if you don't think it'll work or disagree with the idea, you should try it their way anyway. At the very least, they actually feel like they're being heard and who knows, it might end up working out great. I've got a whole other Skillshare class about talking to and directing actors. After you're done watching this class, go check it out for a more in-depth discussion on the best ways to direct them. One really important tip that I always try to do in order to err on the safe side, always do more than one take. Even if you think that you nailed it in one, do one more just for safety. You just never know if the boom mic didn't pick up the dialogue or the camera was slightly out-of-focus, or any number of other things that will be impossible to fix and post. Just to be safe, do more than one take. Another tip is one that I had to learn the hard way. On my first film, I felt like I was made out of porcelain. Any single little thing that went wrong felt like the world is crashing down and that it would derail and ruin the movie. This is not a fun or sustainable way to make movies. It's important to realize that filmmaking is like a wave. There'll be low points, but it always goes back up. Instead of a porcelain figurine that can smash at the smallest thing, you need to be like a cork that easily floats up and down with the waves. When something goes awry, try not to freak out and instead just view it as a problem and it's your job to find the solution. Just stay cool. You'll feel better and you'll inspire the confidence of your cast and crew as well. Another thing that you can do that will really help you down the line and won't take more than a minute here and there is to get plenty of behind-the-scenes photos and videos. High-quality stills of the production are invaluable to film festivals or publications that are doing an article on your film. It's something that's really easy to forget in the fog of production, but bring a camera set and snap a few photos when you have a cool lighting setup or a unique location. Or if you've got a friend who's a photographer, invite them to set a few days and have them go wild. If you want to really go above and beyond, try to think about what you may want the poster for your film to be before the shoot. If you can come up with a few ideas, you can make sure to grab some photographs that will offer you more options than just taking frame grabs from the movie. I did this on my first movie, Incredibly Small. I knew what I wanted the poster to be, and so I made sure to grab some nice high-res photos that allowed me to make it after the fact. I've said this before, but I'll say it again here, a micro-budget film does not mean an unsafe film. The health and safety of everyone onset is the most important thing and you cannot put a price tag on it. Don't cut corners when it comes to keeping everybody safe. This includes a few things. Do not do any crazy stunts or have weapons onset. Unless you have trained professionals, do not have actors jumping through windows or have your cinematographer lean out the trunk of your car. Seriously, don't be a knucklehead. Also, no weapons onset. No guns, no sharp blades, Nothing. There are safe ways to incorporate these things into a production. But if you're making a scrappy low-budget movie, you don't have the resources to do it safely or responsibly. Just to be on the safe side, let's just leave them out. A halo truth that you need to constantly remind yourself is that every person onset is there to work together and help make this film a reality. They're working really hard and might be working for free. You have a responsibility to be kind, courteous, and grateful to everyone on the cast and crew. When things go wrong, don't point fingers or throw people under the bus. Protect your crew, treat them well, show them gratitude and you'll have a happy, fun, productive set. [MUSIC] 9. The Pact: As we wind down the class, we now must discuss, The Pact. In the class resources, I've included the document which you hopefully printed out. This is a hallowed oath, a pact that you must treat as holy. It contains two points. The first point is that in order to make your movie, you're more than likely going to have to call in favors. Have people donate their hard-earned dough to your Kickstarter, have people work for little to no money, and work incredibly long exhausting hours. You must solemnly pledge that for the rest of your career, you will do the same for beginning filmmakers as much as you possibly can. This is a sacred oath and as close to a religion as I have. The second point requires you to fill something in, go back and take that start date that you decided on earlier and write it down in ink. By doing this, you are making a contract with yourself. You're entering into an agreement that you must work with all your energy to uphold. Write the date down and repeat after me inserting your information as necessary. I, whatever your name is, do solemnly swear that I will honor my sacred dream of shooting a feature film to commence, no matter what, on the day you decided. Now, sign the contract and put it on your wall for all to see. More importantly, make sure that you honor this contract, is legally binding after all. You don't want to get sued by yourself. [MUSIC] This class was about getting your movie shot. There are plenty of other expenses and hurdles that you're going to need to tackle such as editing your movie, which you should learn how to do yourself. Color and sound, definitely don't skip them. Festival entries,they're really expensive and deliverables. You need these if anybody's going to see your movie, which is the goal. A lot of people are going to tell you to not shoot your movie until you have the money to do all that. Is that smart advice? Yeah, probably. Is that what I've done in the past? Not always. Those steps are all necessary but can be done with the luxury of time. If you've taken this class and done all the exercises, you are ready to shoot your movie now. I'll cover all the other steps and much more in future Skillshare classes. [MUSIC] 10. Final Thoughts: [MUSIC] Congratulations, you have everything you need in order to make your dream a reality and to shoot your future film. Let your fear dissolve, let all of the hesitation disappear into thin air. You are now equipped to go out into the world and to create. I hope that you feel energized and unshackled by the bonds of excuses and perceived obstacles to go out and make your movie. I would love to hear about your progress and to answer any questions you may have. Please leave them in the discussion section and I'll be sure to respond. Also upload your signed contract to the project gallery so we can help keep each other accountable. Thank you so much for watching and happy filming.