How To Make A Short Film On a Shoestring Budget

If you love movies but think it takes too much money to make one yourself, there’s good news. You can create a short film on a tiny budget with these tips.

Nicholas Otto-Bernstein is a film student who honed his skills in music videos and other productions. Maybe you’re a hobbyist, or you just have a great idea you want to see realized. With some planning and creativity, you too can make a short film on little to no budget.

Keep It Simple

short film works best when the idea is simple and the cast is limited. The more characters you have on screen, the more time you end up needing to justify their existence. For a short film under ten minutes in length, two to three characters are usually enough.

As for the idea or concept, a simple idea doesn’t have to mean boring! Ideas are everywhere, and you’ve probably heard the adage “no new ideas under the sun.” And that’s okay. It’s the execution — how you portray the idea — that really matters.

Use What You Have

Don’t have a studio camera or a full audio studio? No problem. Most modern smartphones have incredibly versatile built-in cameras which are easy to use and can export high-quality video. Similarly, audio editing software is easily accessible online and there are dozens of quality, affordable programs or apps you can utilize.

It is worth seeing if you can get access to good quality microphones, as usually, a smartphone’s mic isn’t as capable as you might like. Good audio in any movie is just as important as the footage itself. The good news is that just like software programs, there are affordable, high-quality audio microphone options out there. And if you know someone who’s in a band, chances are they have some of the equipment you need.

Enlist Your Friends

Lots of people have dreams about being in a movie — even if they aren’t looking for an acting career. Ask your friends or relatives if they’d like to be in your movie. You can post casting calls on social media or Facebook groups, too, and you may get interest from local actors looking to build their portfolios. As with anything, respect your talent’s time and skills — be flexible with casting calls and set times, especially if you’re not able to pay people.

Whether you pay your actors — friends or not — always be sure to feed them. Pizza goes a long way to building goodwill on a film set.

It Takes Longer Than You Think

While there are many film competitions that challenge participants to make a movie in 24, 48, or 72 hours, you don’t necessarily need to stick to such a breakneck schedule for your own project. Filmmaking takes time, and it will inevitably take longer than you expect — even if everything goes perfectly.

Budget in those extra few hours or days for your project so you don’t have to cut corners or stress yourself out with looming deadlines. It can take dozens of hours of filming and days, weeks, or months in post-production to make a ten-minute short film. And that’s okay! Plan ahead and be patient. The time spent will be worth it for the final product.