Hi, my name is Adam Besse and I am a friend of Matthew A. Hawkins. Ok, that seemed a little odd to write, but Matt asked me to introduce myself. Which seems odd, as this is an article for his site and I feel like I am talking directly to whoever is reading this. If you could see me I have a very perplexed look on my face.
Anyways, like I said Matt asked me if I wanted to write something up, basically on anything that I wanted. I share very similar interests with Matt, I myself am also in the film/video field. I've never shot on film in my life but I usually say filmmaker not video maker as it sounds better. But indeed I spend all my spare time trying to advance my career as a filmmaker. I've shot, directed and edited over 20 films (not feature length, mostly short 5-25min flicks) I'm not a paid professional. I like to think I am as professional as the next guy, but heck I'm still learning. I'm a no-budget independent filmmaker. Now, saying no-budget, well I would have to be lying. Obviously we have a budget that usually ranges anywhere from 70bucks (gas and tapes) to $1000 (possibly we rent some lighting gear.) aka. no budget.
Working with no budget means two things. Prep and Creativity. If you can have at least one of these in your bag of tricks you should be off to a good start. Creativity can be a bigger challenge at first but it is still something that someone could harness for making a flick, or whatever job you are doing (construction, sales etc.) Cause really I believe these two things can work well together in any field. But, i'll stick with the field that I am a little more comfortable with to use as an example.
no-budget film making.
Preparation The First thing I do after I have read over the script that we have decided to shoot, is load up a program called celtx. Celtx is a film/video/documentary type production tool. Besides the cool things that celtx can do for you in the pre-production phase, is that it's a free program. If you have a nice solid set up in celtx then you are off to a very very good start. Not only will YOU be organized, your ENTIRE crew will be organized. How you ask? Well the great thing about celtx is after you have your script (you can either import it into a project file, or write it in celtx all together as it has a decent script writting tool. aka. industry standard formatting) You can invite people to join your project but inviting them into your project. I find this perfect, because all the preparation can be done within this project file. After I make a change or an update I load it back up to the celtx server and everyone else who I've invited into that project is able to get the update and load it into their program. Go ahead download it, play around, there are some nice sample projects in there too. Is it perfect? Nope. But its damn good. It can take a few times to get use to. But once you do its a life saver for paper work.
Once I get my flick going in celtx, I start to visualize it. Actually the visualization process for me starts as soon as I read the script. Usually they are just notes I'm jotting down so that I remember it once I start my visualization process. Saying Visualization makes it seem like I go into a chamber and hook my brain into a computer to process my thoughts. No, although that would save time. Clearly that's not in my no-budget ....budget... Storyboards. Storyboarding can do a lot of good for a project. Not only does it allow you to think about what the film/video is going to look like, it also allows you to find if something may or may not work before spending the time and potential no-budget budget on it. I try to storyboard as much as possible but it can be time consuming. There are however some pretty sweet storyboarding programs out there. Frameforge 3d and Storyboard Artist are to name a few. This allows you to straight up storyboard. Doing some pre-visualization work means you can have a 3d movie of the scene you are working on. These programs can cost some money, but it also might save you time and help enhance your flick or video production tremendously. I have used frameforge 3d and the thing I liked about it was that I was able to have my movie worked out in front of me before we shot a frame. Then I would get together with my cinematographer and we would discuss and banter about certain shots etc. But once we were done we had a pretty good idea of how we were going to shoot it. Plus it got the crew on the same page cause no one would question what type of shot or what its suppose to look like.
These are some of the most basic things in prepping that sometimes tend to get overlooked. Too many times I have rushed into a project and have countless issues come up that could have been easily fixed during pre-production. It seems like a no-brainer but I'm telling you, you cannot prep enough. What are you going to do if you have an exterior scene that is suppose to be sunny out, but it ends up raining? Re-shoot. Sure, but you have all this nice gear you rented, and if you are going to re-shoot it will probably cost you some cash. Being prepared can help think about these situations before they arise.
This is getting slightly long, so I will see if Matt will allow me to write a volume 2 on no-budget film making, where I can hopefully get into some more nitty gritty details, on trial and error methods I have learned along the way.
By Adam Besse See Some of Adam's Work at The Green Knights dot org