Filmmaking diary: a microbudget film project from A to Z

For years, as part of my filmmaking education, I have loved reading filmmakers’ accounts of how they made their film —  from screenplay to film stock specs to distribution strategies. What went wrong, what went right. What they did and what they would do differently. I was always grateful to anyone who took the time to share this kind of priceless insight into the process.

Newlyweds was shot on a $9,000 budget
Newlyweds was shot on a $9,000 budget

Two years ago, Filmmaking Magazine published an inspiring series of posts titled The Microbudget Conversation. Around that time, filmmaker Ed Burns shared the details on his 9K NEWLYWEDS shoot — also an inspiration. More and more indie filmmakers were starting to use DSLRs to shoot their projects on a shoestring, some with pretty impressive results. And now, with the arrival of the Black Magic Cinema Camera, RAW hacks from Magic Lantern and the new Panasonic GH4 (and countless others), the sky’s the limit. Though an impressive dynamic range means diddly squat without a good story.

For years I have itched to get the ball rolling on my own micro-budget feature. I have mulled things over and over (I do that a lot) and started lining up ducks. And more ducks. And then different ducks…

I am good at lining up ducks. I could make it a career. Ducks in a row can be good. But there comes a time when you just need to leave the damn ducks alone and jump in.

I am now as ready as I’ll ever be to jump in and in fact, now is as good a time as ever as I want to shoot in my house, which we are putting on the market in 2 years to move to the city. An incentive and ticking clock (how Hollywood of me) to shoot the feature before I lose this ideal location.

I have been following indie producer Ted Hope for ages. He encourages filmmakers to share their experience with the community. So in this spirit, I will blog about my new filmmaking journey, from script development to (hopefully) the film’s release. In the chance it might benefit another filmmaker or two. Or start a conversation. Or lead to resource sharing. And also as a kind of contract for me to sign, to keep the ball rolling, do my best to make things happen and — most important — keep me away from rearranging the damn ducks.

FOG and TWILIGHT STATE

My microbudget project is a psychological drama study spanning two films: one short, titled FOG, and a feature film titled TWILIGHT STATE. Twilight State is an ensemble which features a father-daughter relationship as one of the threads. Fog focuses on that relationship, but offers a storyline that is parallel yet totally independent from the feature.

The goal with Fog is for it to be a short film in its own rights, but also to act as proof of concept for the feature by showcasing the actors, the score, the mood/tone, visual aspects that will characterize the feature. Fog will be used as a teaser for what’s to come, for interested viewers and potential backers.

More on all this in future posts.

Wish me luck!

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2 thoughts on “Filmmaking diary: a microbudget film project from A to Z

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