How To Film On A Budget

Filming anything, whether it’s a moviedocumentary, or commercial, involves many moving parts and coordination to make it happen. One person cannot do it alone. It would be best if you had a team of dedicated professionals committed to making the final cut as best as possible.

If you’ve ever done any filming before, you know there is never enough time and money. Even the biggest productions struggle with those two key ingredients – and getting everything done within restraints. A good producer makes the most of what they have and is creative with finding workarounds to the problems that ultimately arise.

At Kipling Media, we have done more than our fair share of videos and commercials, some successfully – and to be honest – some not so successfully. If you’re putting together a film shoot and need some help, we’ve learned some great lessons over the years.

 

Plan Ahead

The more you plan, the more successful you’ll be. Most people don’t plan enough. Great attention to detail is crucial. You need to plan the entire shoot down to the minute – that’s how much you need to prepare. Even most experienced Producers think they have everything down, but they inevitably forget something, which is what kills film shoots, especially smaller productions.

Having a detailed storyboard is a key component to success. It is often tempting to skip this step, especially if you’re only doing a 15-second commercial or are filming an interview-style video. Plan everything – from the angle, the action, infographic to the special effects viewers will see on screen.

The other thing you’ll need is to create a detailed Call Sheet. A Call Sheet is a schedule issued to cast and crew members to ensure they know what they are doing – when to be on set and who is in charge of what. The most important thing on the Call Sheet is to ensure the crew follows the shooting schedule. Of course, you also need an excellent Assistant Director to ensure the production team follows the Call Sheet, bringing us to the second point.

Finding The Right Team Is Everything

As mentioned, filming a television commercial takes the work of many professionals. If you don’t have a team that works well together, you’ll find that you will go over budget and that your final product won’t be as good. If you can find a professional team that has worked together, that is the best-case scenario for your production.

Carefully interview each crew and cast member to ensure they are the right fit. Often, personality is more important than skill. On the set, many people have to work long hours close to each other and, as such, egos and tempers can flare up if you’re not careful. You have to be the judge about the type of person you want to work on your set; this comes with time and practice. We always prefer to work with someone dedicated and easy to get along with than someone who might be Oscar material – but ultimately, it’s up to you.

Be Creative with Your Script

An often overlooked component in a scriptwriter is that they must understand the limitations of the budget. Writers tend to get overly excited with their ideas and don’t think about how much they will cost. A writer might think: What’s an extra character or prop? As producers, you probably know that adding additional elements can get expensive quickly. There are tons of excellent, creative writers out there. When you hire a writer, make sure they know the producing side of filmmaking. It will save you lots of headaches down the road.

Having said that, you shouldn’t skimp on great storytelling. Even a 5 or 15 second commercial needs a good script that people will remember. Storytelling is a huge concept we don’t have time to cover here, but, likewise, just as a writer should have a producer mindset, a producer must know that the story is always king.

Minimize Your Locations

What kills a production is its time to set up and break down on location. The more scene changes, the more it will hurt your pocketbook. If you can find a location that your shoot can use for multiple scenes, that’s the best way to utilize your money. Try and use sites that you don’t need to get a permit for or that you can get for free. Also, use as much natural light as possible so consider outdoor locations.

Camera and Equipment

We feel that rental equipment is one place where you shouldn’t cut corners. Many indie filmmakers will tell you to use the cheapest equipment possible. However, we believe first you should consider the medium the film or commercial will live. For example, if you’re filming for a Youtube advertisement, you’ll need different specifications than a movie theatre.

If you don’t have the proper microphone or lights, it will show in the final cut. Reach out to your network to see who has lights or equipment you can borrow for cheap. Also, ask the Director of Cinematography if they own any equipment or have access to equipment.

Budget Filmmaking: Summary

It is possible to create something spectacular within a low budget; all you have to do is plan accordingly, find the right people, have a script & storyboard, get the right equipment and choose the best suitable locations.

Contact Kipling Media if you want to produce a commercial or narrative-based film in Vancouver. We are a full-scale agency specializing in creative writing and production.