A creative mind is a low budget filmmaker's most valuable tool. It all starts with an original thought; from there it is all about nurturing that thought until it grows to be a brilliant idea. After that it is a matter of getting that idea made into a movie using every ounce of energy and resources you can possibly muster up.
Most of the successful films that are showing at film festivals these days are movies that were made at a fraction of the cost that it takes to make a major Hollywood studio film. Advances in technology have made it so that just about anyone can make a movie. Film cameras, video cameras, sound recording equipment, and just about any other kind of equipment that one needs to make a movie can be purchased at very affordable prices these days. The equipment that is available these days can provide a very low budget movie with a production value that looks like James Cameron had something to do with the project. This professional look coupled with a unique story can help any film's chances at being accepted into film festivals like Houston Worldfest, Cannes, Toronto Film Festival, Sundance Film Festival, etc…
Try as they might, the major Hollywood film studios will never have a monopoly on creativity. They spend millions of dollars on marketing research in an effort to figure out just what it is that the film-going audiences of the world look for when they go to the movies. Despite all of this effort, they still have not come up with a formula. The tastes of people who go to the movies are as hard to predict as an earthquake is, for the pattern changes all the time. Because of this fact, the door is left wide open for the creative types of the world to enter the game. All they need to do is come up with a unique idea that they can transform into a movie, enter their film in festivals like Sundance and then let the judges decide. While the big studios have tried to take over the film festival circuit in recent years, it is still the little guys with the small, yet creative films that are King in that realm.
It does not cost as much as you would think to make a movie that can be entered in contests like the Sundance Film Festival. Sony is about to release a line of High Definition camcorders that are perfect for anyone who wants to make movies on a shoestring budget. While movies made with these cameras will not be shot on “film” (like movies have been since the beginning), they will (almost) look like they were. These new cameras will be able to give a high quality image that is comparable to the image that film provides. The two camcorders are the PDW-F330 and the PDW-F350, and they offer all sorts of film production features that even the most film-loyal professional filmmaker must respect. Both cameras offer true 24P recording in both SD and HD, interval recording, and slow shutter recording to name a few. The F350 model also offers true variable frame rate recording capabilities which are also referred to as the “slow motion/fast motion” features. Features like these are very valuable to anyone making a low budget movie for it allows them to include motion effects in their films without the use of an expensive film camera or a high priced film lab. Both of these cameras will be on the market in March of 2006. The F350 will cost about twenty five thousand, while the F330 model will only cost about sixteen thousand dollars. A PDW-F30 deck will be available in June for about nine thousand. These are small prices to pay to be a self-sufficient independent filmmaker.
A low budget filmmaker can invest in a relatively low-cost HD camcorder and deck and have everything they need to make as many movies as their mind and body can crank out. All they will need after that is a creative mind, a few thousand dollars, a few ambitious friends for their actors and crew, some script writing software like Final Draft, and an iron resolve to make a movie. They do not have to worry about the high costs of film stock, film processing, or film-to-DVD transfers. All they will need is their camera and a $30 disc (23.3GB) and they will be set to film an entire movie. Buying discs for a camera is a lot cheaper than buying film and all the financial baggage that comes with it.
Once they shoot their movie with one of these cameras, a low budget filmmaker can go right to their computer with the disc and start editing it using one of the many affordable editing programs that are available these days such as Final Cut Pro. They can do all of the post production work for their movie on their home computer, as long as they are willing to shoulder a mother load of work responsibilities.
Technology has allowed independent filmmakers to bypass many expensive steps in the filmmaking process. Instead of paying a bunch of people hundreds of dollars an hour for film services that are only available in cities like Hollywood and New York, they can now do all of these steps in the comfort of their own home on their own computer.
For anyone who has ever had a dream of making their own movie, there is no better time than now to make it happen. The playing field has been leveled in terms of technology, but you still need a creative story to get anywhere on the film festival circuit. The affordable equipment can get you on the field, but you must bring a good game to win. A creative mind is your best player in this game, so if you have that part taken care of you are halfway to making your film vision a reality. Nurture your creative idea until it becomes a unique script and then dedicate your life to making this script into a movie. If your idea is as good as you think it is you will do quite well on the film festival circuit. If this happens it could lead to a decent distribution deal for your movie. If you stick with it and continue to make films you may even find that you have made yourself a career as a professional artist who makes independent films, and that dreams really can become reality.
Copyright 2006. Michael P. Connelly