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SimplyScripts Screenwriting Discussion Board    Screenwriting Discussion    Contests - Screenwriting and Filmmaking  ›  George looking for micro/zero budget features Moderators: Don
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  Author    George looking for micro/zero budget features  (currently 2094 views)
George Willson
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 6:29am Report to Moderator
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So as I've finished my first feature, and I'm planning my second, I thought I'd reach out to my favorite community for a third and on. I have another feature I planned to make, but it's in rewrites at the moment and I want to make sure I have the material to continue as I have only written a few features that are low budget enough for me to make at my current capacity.

What is ultra low budget? Everything is consciously at a minimum.
--> Very small cast, usually under ten but ideally around 5 or 6. The costuming is usually modern where the cast can just pull stuff out of their closet or the production staff can get it from Wal-Mart/Goodwill.
--> Minimal and simple locations, typically things like houses, open fields, trees, an open road, in a car. Rarely will this involve businesses, major city streets. airplanes, traffic, or "set pieces." It's things that already exist and can be worked with.
--> No CG effects, and minimal physical special effects, if any. Physical effects are the "blood and gore" category, which is why low budget leans to horror. No effects typically indicate a drama, which is why that's the other side of the coin. Some blue/green screen might be possible. I need to work on that.
--> No epic shots. Camels crossing the freeway, space battles, an army of thousands crossing the plains of battle are things that cannot be done without the cash to pay off those who do it. Crowd shots might be possible in a small setting, but really, ultra-low budget should have very few, if any, extras. Vistas are nice, but keep the large, expensive, Lawrence of Arabia shots out of this one.

So what it boils down to is something creative and simple. And yes, I'll read and review pretty much anything in any genre, but it has to fit this criteria. If you give your space epic as a suggestion just to get me to read it, I'll know, and I won't finish it. And no fan fic, please. And if you've read something that isn't yours but it's posted, please let me know. I'll contact the author if I think it'll work for me.

What have I done? Well, I have a link to my IMDB profile in my sig. At the moment, it has one film on it, but I've submitted my short as well, which you can watch here.

If you search for my name on Amazon.com, you'll find four items at this time: a book, two CDs, and a DVD. This means that if I do decide to produce what you suggest, it will at least go that route of being available for sale on DVD, and you'll have an entry on IMDB. Of course, there will be a percentage in the event that sales do happen...

Time frame for this will be when starting when I finish the feature I'm going to work on next, so late next year, probably, at the earliest. I had intended to be on my third feature by now, but it turns out there was a lot about making a movie that I had to learn first... :-p Everything in life is a learning experience, and it's hard to place a time on the first thing you do. I came, I shot, I learned, I screwed it up, I fixed it, I'm ready  to make the next one better than the first one, so when I get to yours, it'll be number three, so I should know what I'm doing by then.

Let the posting begin.



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George Willson  -  December 8th, 2009, 7:18am
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James McClung
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 12:25pm Report to Moderator
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I wrote my script Night Shift with the intent of it being easy to produce. How easy, I can't say. This one's got less characters and locations than Abattoir which was the script I had produced and that one was done by a college professor. There's essentially one location and only five main characters.

I should note that there are one or two instances which might require a higher budget/more advanced special effects HOWEVER I wrote them in such a way that they can be omitted without any adjustments to the rest of the script. Basically, if a producer had the means to execute them, cool. If not, no problem. They're gone.

I've spent the year on the script and did a massive rewrite months ago so the majority of creative issues have been fixed.

So yeah. Night Shift. If anything, I'll have a better sense of what low-budget is if it doesn't fit your criteria. It's something I'm still trying to work on.


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ReaperCreeper
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 12:39pm Report to Moderator
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A while ago, I began writing a low-budget feature myself. I have not written much, but my self-imposed criteria was basically exactly like yours. I want to learn to work with limitations. So I'll drop you a PM when I finish my first draft if you still need a script by then.

--Julio
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George Willson
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 1:05pm Report to Moderator
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Julio, if I continue doing this, then there probably won't ever NOT be a need unless I just get inundated, so hit me when you're done.

James, I'll give Night Shift a read. I scrolled through it real quick to have a look at the locations, and I'm initially concerned over the hospital/clinic aspect as well as the frat house. I have some ideas on how to get around actually using a hospital (which would be quite impossible), but I'll read the whole thing to see how conceivable it is. Same deal with a frat house, which I know is usually little more than a big house with extra rooms, but that's a pretty specific type of location. As I said, though, I'll read it through to see how it would work for me. That's the real factor. It may well be low budget, but the real test is whether I can pull it off.


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Mr. Blonde
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 1:41pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from George Willson
I have some ideas on how to get around actually using a hospital (which would be quite impossible), but I'll read the whole thing to see how conceivable it is.


It's a real shame you don't live near me, George. I actually have a closed-down hospital just a few miles away from me.


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George Willson
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 1:50pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from Mr. Blonde
It's a real shame you don't live near me, George. I actually have a closed-down hospital just a few miles away from me.


All these abandoned buildings and not a one for me.  


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James McClung
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 1:53pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from George Willson
Same deal with a frat house, which I know is usually little more than a big house with extra rooms, but that's a pretty specific type of location.


Actually, all the frat houses I went to in college were just really cheap Philadelphia housing. Maybe they've got three rooms upstairs but they were pretty modest. That's what I was going for anyway. Maybe other colleges have nicer establishments. Still, I might just change it to a house party for future reference if it doesn't work for you.

Also, the clinic is meant to be small and bare bones, not like a fully function, or even modestly function, hospital.

In any case, thanks for taking a look.


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George Willson
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 1:55pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from James McClung


Actually, all the frat houses I went to in college were just really cheap Philadelphia housing. Maybe they've got three rooms upstairs but they were pretty modest. That's what I was going for anyway. Maybe other colleges have nicer establishments. Still, I might just change it to a house party for future reference if it doesn't work for you.

Also, the clinic is meant to be small and bare bones, not like a fully function, or even modestly function, hospital.

In any case, thanks for taking a look.


No, that's good to know. I might also get that out of reading the script. I'll keep it in mind anyway.


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Scar Tissue Films
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 2:02pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from James McClung
I wrote my script Night Shift with the intent of it being easy to produce. How easy, I can't say. This one's got less characters and locations than Abattoir which was the script I had produced and that one was done by a college professor. There's essentially one location and only five main characters.

I should note that there are one or two instances which might require a higher budget/more advanced special effects HOWEVER I wrote them in such a way that they can be omitted without any adjustments to the rest of the script. Basically, if a producer had the means to execute them, cool. If not, no problem. They're gone.

I've spent the year on the script and did a massive rewrite months ago so the majority of creative issues have been fixed.

So yeah. Night Shift. If anything, I'll have a better sense of what low-budget is if it doesn't fit your criteria. It's something I'm still trying to work on.



If I may interject slightly (Good luck with your projects btw George).

That's a pretty complicated thing. The term low-budget is realtive and varies from country to country. $20M for an action film is low budget.  

Anyway, for me "low budget" denotes a significant, if relatively small (in Hollywood terms) amount of money. Realistically between 10 million and say 250,000 (for a feature).

You then get micro-budget which is probably below £250,000, but can be as little as a few thousand.

And then no or zero-budget, which is self explanatory.

It's difficult to define what it is and it's also problematical writing for it, because what is unattainable to one person is not to another.

With CGI now being available to the masses, there are people who can create epic battle scenes for nothing. There was an extraordinary film made by three british guys that was a re-enactment of the omaha beach landings. There were hundreds of characters on screen and all of them were just digital copies of the three people who made it.

Found it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRS9cpOMYv0

All of that is shot on a DVX100 which you can pick up for almost nothing and can be created on home computers. Kind of sickening if you don't know how to do it, but the limit these days is really only your imagination and time.
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ReaperCreeper
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 2:03pm Report to Moderator
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Speaking about locations, which specific locations can you afford? Because the script I am working on is set on a rural town of around 500 people. Do you have access to rural locations?

I would appreciate it if you gave us a list of locations you can afford, so as to not overcomplicate things. Example: would you prefer urban/middle-class areas?

--Julio
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George Willson
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 2:47pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from ReaperCreeper
Speaking about locations, which specific locations can you afford? Because the script I am working on is set on a rural town of around 500 people. Do you have access to rural locations?

I would appreciate it if you gave us a list of locations you can afford, so as to not overcomplicate things. Example: would you prefer urban/middle-class areas?

--Julio


Decadence is, as usual, spot on, and I should really define my guidelines a little more specifically. Actually, my guidelines are roughly what I put in my original post. And really, what I'm doing would be referred to as zero budget, since I am making these on a budget of next to nothing. My last feature cost me $30, because I included the cost of the tapes I recorded on and what I spent for parts to build my camera stabilizer rig. I borrowed and begged for everything else that I didn't already own. Everyone on the project worked for a hopeful back end and a credit.

That's the plan for my next one as well. I can make it on next to nothing because the effects are simple, the locations are minimal, and the cast is small. What can I get ahold of for locations? Houses are pretty easy. My hometown requires no film permits (yeah, I checked), so I have all the public parks and roadways are available to me. One of these parks is a wooded area a couple blocks from my house, so lots of trees. Cars are a plenty. Beyond that, it's all about imagination. I wouldn't rule anything out, necessarily, as long as the cast is small.

With your rural town, it's hard to say. I'd have to read it. If it's a town of 500, but a true cast of 3, then my town has a very varied landscape to it where I could actually shoot in a piece of it and make it look like a rural town of 500, where it's actually a city of 90,000. It's not about reality. It's about creativity.

For instance, I probably can't get a clinic for James' script, but what can I get that would look like a clinic? I have some ideas.

There is a lot of subjectivity when it comes to budgeting a script. A major studio might spend $40,000,000 on something that a smaller studio could do for $40,000. It is all about networking and creativity. Maybe the smaller studio is doing physical effects and live action where the major studio is going for all CG effects.

But the easiest gauge for keeping it at a near zero budget is small scale. Small number of people in very, very few locations with almost no destruction or effects. These things aren't off limits. They're just minimized. There are a lot of stories that can be told in this range, and until I can prove that I can do a lot with a little, no one will trust me with a lot. So I'm starting with simplicity and going from there.

Does that answer the questions?


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ReaperCreeper
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 4:31pm Report to Moderator
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Got it.

I was planning on writing a Horror/Thriller script similar to The Bad Seed. Not in plot or even tone, but in the same style where you never actually see what is happening. I think movies are too action-oriented nowadays. The Bad Seed scared the shit out of me without showing ANY violence whatsoever, and that's what I am aiming at. A minimal amount of violence (or none at all), instead relying on mood and tension. This script is only on the treatment stage.

My other script, the one I was talking about earlier, is more of a mystery story. I think it could meet your criteria quite well. I'll send it to you when I finish it.

--Julio
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W
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 7:08pm Report to Moderator
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Quoted from George Willson

--> Minimal and simple locations, typically things like houses, open fields, trees, an open road, in a car. Rarely will this involve businesses, major city streets. airplanes, traffic, or "set pieces." It's things that already exist and can be worked with.


I did write a feature that may fit within these guidelines based on what you wrote.

It's a fake documentary kinda so it may not be what you want to do but I figured I'd throw it out there.


Practice safe lunch: Use a condiment.
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George Willson
Posted: December 2nd, 2009, 9:04pm Report to Moderator
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I'm open to any genre, Wesley and the Single Letter Name. Is that one "Famous, Rich & Beautiful"?


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W
Posted: December 3rd, 2009, 9:47am Report to Moderator
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Quoted from George Willson
I'm open to any genre, Wesley and the Single Letter Name. Is that one "Famous, Rich & Beautiful"?


Yeah, I did post it but that version seems to have cut off some dialogue at the bottom of each page as far as I could tell so after a few tests it's gotta be something wrong with my FD.


Practice safe lunch: Use a condiment.
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