The Director's Chair Issue #99 – Aug. 20, 2009 (Make Your Short Film On a ZERO Budget)
THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR
Free Monthly Ezine for Film and Television Directors
(July)August 20, 2009 Scene 10 – Take 6
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Publisher: Peter D. Marshall
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2. Next Month is the 100th Issue of this Ezine!
3. Two Bonuses for Subscribing to The Director’s Chair
4. BLOG – Film Directing Tips
5. Are You on Twitter?
6. FEATURE ARTICLE – Make Your Short Film On a ZERO Budget
7. Write an Article for The Director’s Chair
8. Subscriber Shameless Self-Promotion
9. Subscriber Links of Interest
10. Filmmaking News, Websites, Articles and Events
11. Filmmaking Workshops
12. Back Issues of The Director’s Chair
13. Subscribe & Unsubscribe Information
14. Copyright Information
Welcome to Issue #99 of The Director’s Chair (July)/August 23/09)
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NOTE: If your country is not represented here, please let me
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2) TWO MONTHLY ISSUES IN ONE (July & August) – I just got back
to Vancouver on August 15 from working 8 weeks on a TV movie
in Regina. Because I did not have time to create the July
issue of this ezine, I decided to combine both months into
this August issue.
3) FEATURE ARTICLE – the feature article this month is called
“Make Your Short Film On a ZERO Budget” by The Kid in the
Front Row. “I meet some crazy people. In fact, I meet some
sane people, too — both types seem to be under this crazy
illusion that making a short film has to cost money. I have
had my zero-budget films screened in festivals next to films
that cost $20,000; and the difference in quality has been
minimal- and quite often my films were better received than
the big-budget ones.” (See below to read entire article.)
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5) FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS AND PRODUCT PROMOTION –
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Peter D. Marshall
2. NEXT MONTH IS THE 100TH ISSUE OF THE DIRECTOR’S CHAIR!
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Director’s Chair (September, 2009) will be the 100th published
issue of this free monthly ezine. The first issue was
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past 9 years. So stay tuned for a very special issue next
month …along with incredible deals on some great filmmaking
3. TWO BONUSES FOR SUBSCRIBING TO THE DIRECTORS CHAIR
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4. BLOG – FILM DIRECTING TIPS
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Here are some of the latest blog entries I have made:
– Why government handouts to Hollywood are growing
– Film festivals, that place where Americans used to go
– Are there too many film festivals?
– Virgin Film Experiences Part 2: “Filmmaking is like war”
– Film Festivals: Have they Impacted on Nollywood?
5. ARE YOU ON TWITTER?
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Twitter is one of the best and quickest ways for friends,
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It’s also becoming one of the best ways to promote yourself
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If you have a Twitter account, let’s follow each other. You
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6. FEATURE ARTICLE – “Make Your Short Film On a ZERO Budget”
“Make Your Short Film On a ZERO Budget” by The Kid in the
I meet some crazy people. In fact, I meet some sane people,
too — both types seem to be under this crazy illusion that
making a short film has to cost money. I have had my
zero-budget films screened in festivals next to films that
cost $20,000; and the difference in quality has been minimal-
and quite often my films were better received than the
Now, I’m not saying that bigger budget short films suck, nor
am I saying that a zero-budget film is better; it of course
comes down to talent, luck, script, etc etc. But the way I
look at it is: if your film is going to suck anyway, you’re
better off doing it for $5 than $5,000. I’ve made some
TERRIBLE short films, but have been lucky enough in that they
only cost me about ten coffees to make.
I write this post because I have met many upcoming Directors
who have erred on the side of doing nothing because they “need
$5,000 to make this short film.” I am here to tell you that
you need about $80 to make your short film, if that.
So you need locations. Locations can cost $1000, or they can
cost nothing. And it’s entirely up to you. You can say “I
would like to film in your Doctor’s surgery, how much does it
cost?” or you can say — “I am a young, upcoming film director
and I would love to shoot in your surgery. I’ve been coming
here since I was three years old, it’s a part of my life and
I’d love for it to be in my film. I’m doing this film on a
zero-budget, using actors and friends from our community to
help out. Would we be able to film in your surgery? It would
only take one evening, we can do it after you close.”
And they’ll say “No.”
But then you say, “Is there any way you can help us out? It
would be great fun for any of your staff who want to stick
around, we’ll make sure they’re well fed and they can even be
extras! I really want to film there because I can’t imagine
the scene being anywhere else, it would mean so much to me
just to film inside the walls of the surgery! Let me know what
I need to do to make you feel comfortable and safe with us
being there, and I’ll make sure you are happy with it.”
And then people begin to open up, they begin to see your
passion for the project and they realise they can be a part of
making movie magic happen.
Think of ALL the people you know. You know people who live in
houses, in apartments, in disgusting rented rooms that have
leaks; you know people who work in schools, in offices, in the
government, in the streets, in charities; wow — you know so
many people! Think of all the locations you can get!
Short film making is not about signing cheques; it’s about
filmmakers discovering their art and pulling off miracles with
no money. When you make people realise this; and show them how
they can be a part of it, they will almost always be willing
to help. Two years ago I wrote a script set almost entirely in
offices. I wrote to a company who I found by searching ‘rent
office space london’ in Google, and within a week they had
given me new office space for a whole day, for absolutely no
cost. I promised them that ‘when I shoot the big movies a few
years from now, I’ll come back to you.” And it’s the truth;
because now, if I need an office location, they’re the first
people I’d contact.
A camera does cost money, I know this. But you can get
creative here. Maybe the film would be great if it had a rough
and raw documentary feel. Maybe you could just shoot it on
your Aunts old camera. Or maybe you need something better. But
you look online and the rental companies say they want $400 a
day for the model you want. Well, that price is flexible. The
minute you say “student,” or “low-budget” or “upcoming”
they’ll immediately modify their quotes. If you have a script,
if you have passion, they’ll see it– they’ll smell that, five
years from now, you might be in a position to help them more.
Also, most rental companies are closed on the weekends; so if
you get a one day rental on a Friday, you may get to keep the
equipment until the Monday. In fact, I did that on my last
shoot when I rented a monitor and four lights. It wasn’t free,
but it wasn’t very expensive either.
Maybe you know film students who have access to cameras, or
maybe someone who shoots wedding videos for a living. Whoever
you are getting a camera from– you can offer them a film
credit, you can offer them a banner on your website, you can
offer to advertise them to your 1,024 Facebook friends– you
don’t HAVE to hand over cash to get the equipment you need. Be
One thing you can’t avoid is the need to feed everyone on your
set. Well, I’ve seen people avoid it– but I don’t agree with
it. Especially when everyone is working on your film for free.
Why are they working for free? Because you’re working for
free. You’re making a film to show everyone your genius as a
Director, despite the lack of money and resources. You’re
giving the actors the chance to show their genius despite the
lack of money and resources. The same rule applies for all of
the crew. Rather than ‘oh, there’s no money’ – make it
positive! What a wonderful film, filmed for absolutely
nothing!! And we all had so much fun doing it!
Anyway’s, food. A few years back I was about to embark on
making a short film, and rather than spend a heap of money on
drinks, I wrote to a big soft-drinks company. I told them all
about my project; I told them how passionate we all are- doing
this amazing project for no money, just with love and
hard-work. They wrote back, said they liked what we were
doing, then sent two big parcels of drinks the night before
the shoot. Everybody got to drink their tasty beverages, and
it hadn’t cost me a penny. You can’t guarantee you’ll get
freebies like this– but if you don’t ask, you don’t get.
I learned a lot about catering a film last year, on a
feature-film I produced. I was authorising hundreds of pounds
a day to go on food. As the shoot was nearing an end, I was
looking at our bank balance and getting that concerned
producer’s look on my face. But then two of our lovely runners
came over to me and told me they could take care of dinner for
about £8 a day.
They brought in a giant pot and the ingredients; on one day
they made Chilli Con Carne, on the other day they made a
little pasta and meat sauce concoction. Suffice to say, it was
the best food we had on the whole shoot and it had cost me
less than £20 over two days. Of course, it can be really
difficult on a feature film when you are shooting for weeks,
if not months– but your short film is only taking up three or
four days. So why not send out a message to your Facebook
friends and say “would anyone like to make dinner for my
gorgeous actresses?” – there is bound to be someone you know
who loves the idea of cooking their signature dish and
bringing it to your location. In fact, they’ll be so proud of
their culinary genius, they’ll probably pay for it all
Whatever you are shooting, whatever you needs, and wherever
you are filming — there are ALWAYS ways to do it for nothing.
Be creative, ask around, and don’t take no for an answer.
The Kid in the Front Row is a young filmmaker from the UK who
writes the blog http://kidinthefrontrow.blogspot.com as well
as administers the Facebook group “Film Blogs” at
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10. Filmmaking News, Websites, Articles and Events
1) Low Budget Filmmaking: Getting Down to Basics – Low budget
filmmaking is a process that can at times be arduous, but the
pay-off is one of the most creative forms of fulfillment that
can be achieved by a modern day storyteller. It is with this
concept that we will cover some of the most basic steps of low
budget filmmaking. Keeping these rules in mind will prove to
be a savvy move.
2) Do you, or do you want to, work on film productions? If you
want to expand in your career in film, this article will help
you make it! http://filmproduction.wordpress.com/
3) Beautiful videos from your images in minutes – Brought to
you by film & TV producers, Animoto turns your images into
exquisite video pieces in just minutes. http://animoto.com
4) All the top Filmmaking news. http://filmmaking.alltop.com
5) 123 Film! – Make your dreams come true.
6) IndieGoGo provides tools for fundraising, promotion, and
discovery to the film and media industry.
7) The Director in the Classroom – The leading resource for
filmmaking in the classroom. http://www.thedirectorintheclassroom.com
8) How to make a Cable-Cam for Cheap –
11. FILMMAKING WORKSHOPS – Peter D. Marshall
I have worked in the Film and Television Industry for over
35 years – as a Film Director, Television Producer, First
Assistant Director and Series Creative Consultant. I’ve been
asked many times to share my Film and TV production
knowledge with others. As a result, I developed several
workshops that I have successfully presented over the past
To find out more about these workshops, just click on the
link below. If you are interested in any of these four
workshops for yourself or your organization, please contact
me to discuss how we can bring these workshops to you.
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14. COPYRIGHT INFORMATION
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Peter D. Marshall
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