6 top tips on micro-budget feature filmmaking
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Selective Listening is the first feature film created by Producer and Met Film School Part-Time Producing graduate, Miriam Rodriguez plus Writer/Director/Partner Tim Prescott. Working on a micro budget the film was shot late last year premiering in October 2014.
The film tells the story of Harrison a man with a history of schizophrenia who is trying to have a normal life and make friends, whilst keeping the unpredictable voices he hears at bay. His solution is to assign his voices physical identities in the form of his childhood toys. This unusual tale has since gone on to win an award at the International Independent Film Festival in the USA. Watch Trailer
We caught up with Miriam to find out more about how Selective Listening was made and learn more about what she had been up to post graduation. Miriam shared with us some interesting insights on how to make a feature on a limited budget.
Here are some of her key tips:
- Script is everything.Though you might not have cash, an innovative script will draw in people who want to collaborate with you. Tim’s script for Selective Listening was unusual and novel and attracted a strong cast and crew who were willing to take part in the project at a low cost.
- Give your cast a stake in your film. You might not have money now to repay your team’s hard work, but giving them a stake in the production allows them a chance to benefit from any future success your film might have. For Selective Listening Miriam and Tim created production company; All on Five Ltd to deliver the film and the cast got a stake in this company.
- Look for low cost ways to promote your film. To keep costs to a minimum, Miriam and Tim decided to use blogger.com to create Selective Listing’s blog promoting the film rather than build a website. Social media was used to create interest in the film. As well as creating an official Facebook page and Twitter account, they also gave fictional characters in the film online personas. For example, Harrison’s toys had their own twitter accounts and they conversed with celebrities on twitter to further create film buzz.
- Explore all funding options, if all else fails, save up yourself! Though Miriam explored a range of funding options including crowd funding and funding grants available, to get the project off the ground, the film was made using Tim and Miriam’s own savings. Tax breaks available to help filmmakers, also allowed them to get the project off the ground.
- Be realistic. Within your limitations Miriam says, to make a film that stands out and is memorable. Remember you want your film to have an audience and get seen. Play to your strengths when making your film. If you can’t afford to rent a location, then do what Tim and Miriam did – film in your own home. If you can’t afford to premiere your film at a cinema consider other options. For example, Selective Listening premiered at Richmond College’s 200 seater hall, which had excellent sound and projection facilities. Identify areas you require external advice on. For example, Miriam is in talks with Film London regarding film distribution.
- Be prepared to get involved in everything. As well as acting as the only producer on the project, Miriam assistant directed, acted as caterer to the cast and even made and operated the puppets representing Harrison’s toys! When you’re working on a low budget, you’ve got to be prepared to pitch into everything to make the project happen. Both Tim and Miriam had at least 10 credits on different roles on the film. Being able to take on multiple roles is key!