The Secret To Low Budget Filmmaking

Don't be 'that' director.

You know, the one that shows up late every day. The one that doesn't have their shit together (ideas, storyboards, shot lists, etc) before showing up on set. The one so far up his (or her) ass that they don't recognize the work of the people around them. Yeah, you know the one I'm talking about because if you're anything like me, you've seen those people far too often.

You don't want to be that guy. Especially on a low budget feature.

In the months since we've started this blog I've gone on and on about the filmmaking tips that I've learned, but I haven't talked about the most important thing to a quality film: a great crew.

You want to be a successful director? Then check that ego at the door and start appreciating the people who are just there because they answered an ad, just as much as you're appreciating the people who are there out of a love for your vision. You don't want to an anecdote someone drags out when discussing horrible experiences, you want to be that director that people admire and want to work with again.

We can talk about shutter speeds and story beats until we're blue in the face, but none of that will be a reality without a fabulous crew to help get you there. It's so easy to overlook someone like the Script Supervisor when you're busy directing, but do so at your own peril.

These are people that don't give a good god damn what your 'vision' is, they just want to get the movie done and move on. It is in your best interest to earn and covet their respect because the more you jerk them around, the less they'll care about your shitty picture and won't necessarily go that extra mile when you need them to. Those "below the line" people may not have the fancy trumped up clout that you do as a director/writer/producer/whatever, but that doesn't mean they don't work as hard, if not harder, than anyone else on set.

You want your movie to come in on time and on budget? Listen to your AD. You want to save yourself massive headaches in post? Listen to your Script Supervisor. You want to have a fun environment on set that's conducive to creativity and will translate to screen? Don't be a dick to your crew!

As a director, you should lead by example. Especially on a low budget feature. If you put your all into the making of a movie, everyone else will too. Then it makes everything else just that much easier down the line.

Besides, with a great crew focusing on how to get the logistics done, you can focus on what's really important to you: Making the movie great!

At least, that's what I'm going to do.

2 Responses

  1. Mr Blue

    There’s an important difference between being a jerk and fighting to make your movie good. It’s been said many times that you can’t be a director without an ego – it’s all about where that ego is invested: in one’s self or in the movie. If you’re incompetent, you don’t listen to the script supervisor. If you’re mean to people who are there out of good will or whatever, then there should be no shock when they call in ‘sick’ the next day.
    I think the inverse of ‘that guy’ is the ‘guy’ who gets her movie made on good will and supports the troops and everyone is there because they want to see that person make the movie, but there’s no appreciation for filmmaking from the person who is the chief appreciator, and though it was a meaningful social adventure making the picture, it sucks at the end and the raison d’etre is missing. A pleasant waste of time.

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