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Posts Tagged ‘low-budget filmmaking’

Don’t get scared away by the privacy settings on the below video, just click the “Watch on Vimeo” button and you‘ll be rewarded with a terrific DIY video where ASC cinematographer Lawrence Sher (Joker, The Hangover) walks you through how he recreates a shot from E.T. by using only things in his house and an iPhone. This is one way to use you quarantine time in creative ways. (Heck, this would be a good way to do a whole college class.)

Shot Craft — Staying Creative in Quarantine from American Cinematographer on Vimeo.

You can check out a matching article on the American Cinematography blog written by Jay Holben. Sher also created a website called Shotdeck that is full of movie images that can  serve as inspiration for your own ideas.  And you can follow Sher on Instagram (@lawrencesherdp) where he shares his recreations of famous movie scenes.

Sher_2797

Related posts:

The Best Film School 
10 Low-Budget Filmmaking Quotes 
The 10 Film Commandments of Edward Burns
Shooting a Feature Film in 4 Days
Shooting a Feature Film in 1 Day
Shooting a Feature Film Over Dinner
Shooting a Feature Film in a Coffin

Scott W. Smith

 

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In light of my last post (Waiting to Be Great) I thought I’d gather 10 quotes on low-budget filmmaking that I found scattered throughout this blog over the years. I hope two or three inspire you on your filmmaking journey:

“My token advice [to aspiring filmmakers] is do it—make your own stuff. Whether it’s short films or whatever you can do, my advice is make your own stuff. I’m a real believer in preparation meets opportunity. When this opportunity (to write Bridesmaids) came along I really had been at this a long time…I was really prepared when this came along. I’m just a firm believer in ‘just do it.’ If you build it, he will come.”
Annie Mumolo 

Oscar-nominated screenwriter of Bridesmaids
Script Mag Podcast with Jenna Milly

“My example was Robert Rodriguez. In an interview he’d said, ‘Take stock of what you have and work with that. I had a bus and I had a turtle, so I worked them both into the script!’ I thought, I can get my hands on a convenience store…So I went home, and got my job back at the convenience store, fully intending to shoot the flick there. And I started writing like mad. I guess the first draft of it was about 164 pages, pretty long, so I handed it over to my friend Vincent. I was like, ‘What do you think?’ And he was like, ‘It’s really good. I think you should do it.’”
Kevin Smith
My First Movie
Edited by Stephen Lowenstein
page 76-77

“We’re in the midst of a digital revolution that allows you to shoot, edit, and distribute your films for virtually nothing. You have the possibility of creating a You Tube sensation…When I talk to student filmmakers, I tell them ‘Read as much as possible. Write as much as possible. Go read (director) Robert Rodriguez’s book Rebel Without a Crew. Get the mistakes out. Write bad. Direct bad. Learn how to tell stories as you do. Find that short film that says exactly who you are and the stories you want to tell. Make it and submit it to the festival process and realize that you may be great, you may be terrible. You won’t find out until you try to get other people to judge your work.’”
Jason Reitman
Orlando Sentinel
December 2009

“The industry is moving toward the big and the small. I think studios will always want a few of the high-budget high-profile projects. And there will be more and more of the micro-budget stuff. Everything in between is getting cut back, the marketing costs and production costs are too high, they don’t make sense in a world of YouTube, video games, cable programming, etc. By all means, try to make your way to one of those big-budget projects. But also take time to write and produce on the micro-budget scale, because that’s where we’re all going to live in a few years.”
Oscar-nominated screenwriter Terry Rossio (Shrek)
Interview with John Robert Marlow (Published 12/2010

“What’s different now than when I started is you can make your own stuff now. It’s cheap enough that you can film your own movie, edit your own movie, and distribute your own movie if you want to. If it’s a big production you’re going to have to deal with compromise if you’re lucky, because you need a lot of resources. I always recommend keeping it small enough that you can maintain that control. Because even if you win the lottery and somebody buys your thing you’re not going to be happy with a lot of the compromises that are going to take place. It’s too painful. You have to counter balance that with how much heat it’s giving you or how much money you’re getting when you’re starting off and getting your foot in the door. But now I think more and more people are getting their foot in the door by doing really good work on a small scale. And then scaling up as people are looking for fresher voices.”
Producer/writer/director/Actor Jon Favreau (Iron Man, Chef)
The Q&A with Jeff Goldsmith

“At this moment, anyone who dreams of becoming a filmmaker is lucky indeed. For the first time in the history of cinema, filmmaking does not need to be a capitalist enterprise. You no longer need millions of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. You are no longer beholden to someone writing a check. It no longer needs to be a business. it can be your artistic expression…Now you can buy a consumer-model digital camera and the image looks great…You can even shoot a pretty good-looking movie on your smartphone and then edit it on a laptop…You can post your film on YouTube, Vimeo, and any number of digital platforms and slowly build your audience.”
Edward Burns
Independent Ed

“When I meet with recent film school graduates, I remind them that whatever happens next in the industry won’t be something my generation does. It will happen among the 20-somethings, the narrative entrepreneurs who figure out how to make the next great thing. Rather than seeking permission to work in the existing industry, they’ll make their own.”
Screenwriter John August
What’s wrong with the business

“I wanted this movement to be like the French New Wave, in which directors told different types of stories and used the language of cinema a little differently, with smaller cameras on real locations.
Gary Winick (1961-2011)
Tadpole director and founder of InDigEnt

“I think there’s a slight trend toward embracing new cinema, non-Hollywood blockbuster cinema. It’s not erupting, but because of the Internet, I think people have more of a chance to get buzz going on alternative cinema, so I think it’s hopeful out there.”
David Lynch

“It’s good not to follow the herd. Go the other way. If everyone is going that way, go this other way. Yeah, you’re going to stumble, but you’re also going to stumble upon an idea nobody came up with… It’s lined with gold over there because nobody goes that way—it hasn’t been picked clean yet. And you’re going to stumble upon something. You’re going to stumble a few times, but you’re going to consistently stumble upon an idea no one’s come up with by going that way. I’ve always been that way. If everyone is going that way—like they know what they’re doing with purpose—I don’t know what I’d doing. I’m just going to go this other way. At least it’s a new frontier.”
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez
Interview with Tim Ferriss

Related posts:
The 10 Film Commandments of Edward Burns
Shooting a Feature Film in 4 Days
Shooting a Feature Film in 1 Day
Shooting a Feature Film Over Dinner
Shooting a Feature Film in a Coffin

Scott W. Smith

 

Read Full Post »

“I don’t mind failing, I just don’t like failing in front of a bunch of other people.”
Robert Rodriguez
(On why he shot El Mariachi in Mexico as a one-man crew)

Blame it on Mexico if you need a reason
Say too much guitar music, tequila, salt and lime
Blame it on Mexico lyrics by Darrell Staedtler

If you’ve read much of this blog, you’ll know I like unlikely places and Acuña, Coahuila definitely qualifies as unlikely place to be a footnote in film history. That city about three hours west of San Antonio, Texas, just across the border into Mexico is where Robert Rodriguez shot El Mariachi (1992). A film that would go on to win the Audience Award at Sundance, launch Rodriguez’s film career, and help kick start a modern do-it-yourself independent film movement.

Here are some of the limitations that Robert Rodriguez had in making his first feature film;

—One non-sync, film camera with two lens
—One take of everything (because two takes would have doubled the budget)
—One ranch in Mexico that a friend owned
—One bar
—One pitbull
—One turtle
—Zero true film lights (just two clip-on hardware store lights with 200 watts bulbs)

“There’s a freedom of limitations. It’s more freeing to know I can only use these items; turtle, bar, ranch. You’re almost completely free within that. You can almost doing, not anything—because that would be too many options. One of my favorite films that I did with Quentin was called Four Rooms where they said, we’re all doing short films and we all have the same criteria; it has to be set in one room, has to be New Year’s Eve, and you have to use the bellhop. The freedom of limitations was enormous. When you watch that short and it goes all over the room—by the end we burn down the room. It was almost more exciting to know you were in a box, and you could be creative within that box. Now that so many things* are available to you want to limit yourself in a way. So I try to limit time, I try to limit money, so we can still keep that essence of creativity and deliver something on the screen that just looks much bigger. So you can retain your creative freedom. Because if you start spending more money, suddenly the financiers—rightfully so—the studios, the executives will be over your shoulder constantly questioning every move you make because they want their money back. But if you keep the budget low it’s a win-win situation.”
Filmmaker Robert Rodriguez
Interview with Tim Ferriss

* Part of the “so many things available to you” these days that Rodriguez didn’t have access to that many people think they need; sliders, drones, 4K cameras, Steadicam/MOVI, non-linear editors (AVID/Permeire/FCPX), After Effects/Motion, color correction software, Red Rock/Zacuto camera accessories, a zillion plug-ins, etc.etc. Before you buy that “must have” piece of equipment remind yourself of this bit of Rodriguez wisdom; “If you want to make a film on a really low budget you can’t spend on anything…If you start that money hose going you just can’t stop it. Think of a creative way to get around your problem.”

P.S. Make a point to come back Tuesday for a post on the analytical vs. intuitive side of filmmaking and screenwriting, as I continue my month of Robert Rodriguez-centered posts.

Scott W. Smith 

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