October 15, 2014 at 7:48AM


How do I get money for my first short?

I have been planning for quite a few months now. I want to shoot my first short.

Here's my budget.


I have two questions:

1) Your general opinion on the budget. Do you think it is too much? Too less? What would you change if you wanted to get a very good quality audio and image but for as cheap as possible?

I know the story is everything and I am doing my homework on that front, too. But I just want my each frame to look pristine.

And I want my audio to be very nice.

2) Where do I get money for this? Is there any organization or company that will give me the money to make my first film?

PS: I am a very stingy guy and I would have made my first short film just for practice with my Nikon D3100 and may be some very cheap equipment for about USD $2,000.

But I've invested so much in writing the story and am developing a screenplay. It is a mature, psychological drama. I just don't want to use cheap equipment. I want to use the best yet relatively inexpensive professional equipment. Esp. on the audio.

I am actually going to use my Nikon D3100 as the Camera B for certain shots. So, there. I am using all the cheap stuff I have but I want to bring in some modestly alright production value to the film.


Good luck getting funding for a short film.

October 15, 2014 at 12:57PM

Mark Chaney

I don't think anyone will give money to a filmmaker making his first film. You could probably just do it out of pocket, or borrow gear from friends.

Renting gear is also an option, but I would worry less about camera gear, more about lighting, story, and audio. "The best camera, is the one you got on you." Good luck!

October 15, 2014 at 8:29PM, Edited October 15, 8:29PM

Matt Bastos

Wiseass simple answer: get a job and a savings account.

Almost no one (outside close friends and family) will give money to an unproven filmmaker just because they ask. If you have a reel, some test shots or a well developed concept then you might want to try crowdfunding, but that's a job in and of itself.

I would definitely take a look at your budget though. Why get a 7D when you have a D3100? I'm not super familiar with the Nikon but it looks like they have similar sensors and features. Do you really need two cameras? Over $3,000 for software? Shouldn't you at least have basic editing software already? I understand you want to make the short as best as possible with high production value but if you're story is good none of the rest matters (as much). Work with what you have - I'm made a bunch of shorts and none have cost more than a few thousand.

October 16, 2014 at 12:33PM

John Morse
Producer + Director

Make friends who have equipment and know how to use it. Slap yourself across the face for even thinking of paying for cs6- the whole world has moved on to CC and nobody believes for one second you are going to pay for old technology! We have torrents for that, and that software is free! Forget the cheap lav mics because if you don't know how to use them they will produce awful sounds and you don't need to be bothered by that, you need to focus on the actors! Speaking of actors- you're flying one guy to Delhi and putting him up for 5 days? Why? You're telling me there are nearly 10 million people in Delhi and you can't find someone to play the role there? You don't have money, but you sure as hell have time. Go find someone who can play the role- walk the streets until you have the perfect person. Then spend a week, or more, with them until they ARE your character.

You are going to have to fight for this thing Sathyaish. And I'm sorry buddy but nobody is giving you money.

October 16, 2014 at 12:56PM

matthew david wilder

Thank you all. I really appreciate your advise. Very sound.

I'm gainfully employed and make a decent amount of money.

I'd thought if I don't get money, I'll use whatever I already have and edit in Vegas Movie Studio on my 2 GB RAM laptop.

Really very good advise. Many, many thanks.

October 16, 2014 at 5:41PM


Remember Sathyaish- you are a filmmaker, you make your own luck! Look forward to seeing the film.

matthew david wilder

October 17, 2014 at 3:56AM

Re allocate some money and add RAM :'D

Clark McCauley

January 25, 2016 at 10:18AM

You could apply to the Cardora Film Festival which offers filmmakers the opportunity to make money and gain a fan base from their micro-movies (about 1 min long). https://www.cardora.co/festivals

October 17, 2014 at 9:22AM

Celine Rich

Im not sure how often you get on set and work in production. But thats where you need to start in my opinion. Offer your services to other filmmakers in any capacity they'll have you. That way you'll meet everyone you need to help on your short. People will help you once... if it turns out good and youre pleasant to work with... they'll help you again. Etc etc. Best of luck!

Oh yeah... no ones giving you any money

October 18, 2014 at 8:30PM

Mike Holt
VTR / DIT/ Media Management

I just spent $3000 on a 3 minute short that I got all the gear free. All of it... but I've been working on other peoples shorts for like 3 years.

October 18, 2014 at 8:32PM

Mike Holt
VTR / DIT/ Media Management

I took a look at the budget and noticed a few problems. First off, you want a Rode NTG-3 shotgun, but you have nothing to record from it with. It’s an XLR mic and neither the Zoom H1 or the H2n have XLR inputs. You’ll also want to get an XLR cable.

If you’re trying to be really cheap, then you don’t need the VideoMicPro if you’re only using the camera audio to sync sound. Also, if you’re trying to be cheap, why get the kits lens with the 7D, just get the body only.

I also agree with John Morse though about why you need the 7D if you already have a DSLR.

Do you have no actors in your film? No other film crew? If you do, do they not need to be paid or fed? I’ll be the first to admit I don’t know much about making a narrative film, but this looks mostly like a gear list, and is missing a lot of the costs of what it would be needed to make a narrative film. Honestly, this looks to me like you just want someone to pay for your startup kit.

Cheapest way to do it I would think would be to find others who are passionate about working on their skills and getting some work in their portfolio who have varied skills. Hopefully, a number of them will have their own gear that you can borrow. Whatever gear you can’t get, rent.

I know it’s tempting to have someone else pay for all of your gear so that you can get started in filmmaking. But I think it might be better to work with what you have and what you can afford. Just get experience. Try things out.

If you really think this script is special, you might want to save it for a bit so you can make it after you already have some experience. Odds are your very first project is going to show some inexperience. This is just natural. Instead of diving right in, maybe think through what types of shots, effects, direction and edits you need to be able to do well to produce this film and see if you can come up with smaller projects that will allow you to practice those skills. As others have said, if you put enough stuff together for a reel, then perhaps then someone will trust your vision and ability enough to fund your film.

October 19, 2014 at 10:46AM

Ryan Toyota
Graphic Designer / Typographer / Video Editor

about adding production value, work with what you have and use everyday events to add production value. not sure if you seen super 8 but they used everyday live to add to their film (yes i know its just a movie) but its a showcase for young up and coming filmmakers as well.

October 20, 2014 at 5:46PM

Michael Militscher
Director / Commercial Producer

Most likely your first short will be less good than you imagined.
Make something short and simple with what you've got. Make silly mistakes, have happy accidents (as Bob Ross would say) and learn from it, before spending money, because the idea you're working on is to good to make without spending it.
Fail fast, learn faster.
Make this dream short your 2nd or 3rd project and it will be better than when it's your first attempt.

BTW, a 7D?
It doesn't add that much if you already have the Nikon.
Look at renting a C300 or something like that instead if every frame needs to be perfect.

Good luck!

December 11, 2014 at 9:34AM

Director, DOP, Writer, Editor, Producer

First Film Production funding.... that sorta far fetched. You should fund with out of your pocket and keep it at a minimal. The 7D is a proper camera but you have a camera already just use that. Your Budget is hefty for a first film that is a short. No one will give you money to make a film if you have never made a film before or even have videos you have worked on. So you'd have to i dunno... save your money to do this and the longer you take to make the film then the longer it will take for you to get out there. so your move.

December 26, 2014 at 1:18PM

Wentworth Kelly
Director/DP/Colorist/Drone Op

Some people get funding from sources like Kickstarter but the effort and awards can suck your time and budget. I've obtained a couple of $500 grants from my local arts and humanities group. I made a movie for $10,000 over six years doing everything myself and putting all my extra money into it. You can do it cheaply if you just start out with the idea that your budget is pretty much zero and plan based on that. Do everything yourself that you can. Buy used previous version software and equipment on ebay. As you probably won't make any money off your short, if you don't spend any money making it you won't have investors to pay back or nasty credit card bills. A recent sundance movie that someone made on iphones. it can be done cheaply.

February 6, 2015 at 3:34PM

Anton Doiron

Best of luck to you getting funding for your first short film. While possible, its unlikely you'll get the money you are looking for. If this film is truly that important then either find someone whose more established that can help you bring it to life or pocket this film and and write something else to work on building your audience to help fund your next film. Show them when you can do with a zero dollar budget.

June 29, 2015 at 3:31PM, Edited June 29, 3:31PM

Matt Clark
Producer / Writer / DP

I'm sorry my friend, but your budget it's crazy. you should be thinking less on the equipment that is not what makes a good film, it certainly helps, but it won't make it great. I would advice you to use the resources you have available and shape your story around them so they don't feel force into the story. asking for money is hard, even for someone who has experience and a reasonable budget, I believe is three times harder for a first short and this insane amount of money that you are trying to collect. it's not up to people to pay for you filmmaking "startup kit" there are people out there who probably would help you finance your film, but not your entire filmmaking career! you may think I'm being mean or pessimistic, but it's not that at all, actually I'm going thru the same process right now; looking for financing for my short film, I have a Gofundme campaign explainig why I need the money and I'm only asking for 3,000: I'm half way thru the campaign and I only have 500 which most are from family and friends. you need to bring down your expectations and work with what you got, but I wish you all the best!!

July 6, 2015 at 1:31AM


so here are my ideas:

>70- 200mm Lens you will never use it, you have no crane and don't need it.
>50mm Prime, you already have a 24-70mm, get a speed doubler instead and you could have 24-70mm at f 0.7
>drop the adobe software and go with vegas
>Use the camera you have
> Steadicam's sound awesome, but build a DIY dolly system instead. Steadycams take ALOT of practice to use. I have been an operator for 2 years and still blow shots from time to time.
> Drop the lavs and just record boom. The cheap lavs pop quite a bit and easily become useless.
> Lighting, use halogen work lights, aluminum foil for light control (google: snoot) and bakers parchment for diffusion. Not very professional looking on set but they have a CRI of 100 at $50USD per 1000 watts.
>get a field monitor of some sort. this is an afterthought a lot of times but it can save you hours of meticulously removing a cstand or boompole from a shot in post.

you should be able to cut your budget down to almost nothing. To give you an idea. Alfred Hitchcock shot "Rope" for $5,000 on film, Robert Rodriguez shot "El Mariachi" on film for $7,000. be creative, use what you have and get people to work on points.

December 29, 2015 at 10:23PM

Christopher Vaughan
Director/ Director of Photography/ Producer

I had the SAME question as you. If it's your first you're going to be paying yourself. Most of the stuff in here you don't need. I could do a film with your gear requirements for under $500. Renting what I need and scraping everything else that's not needed.

You have tons budgeted for all of CS6 but pay $20 for CC and use it for a month while you make your short film. You can rent the 7D and all the audio for under $250 at borrowlenses. Because it's your first you need to start small. And don't expect funding until you have a proven track record.

January 25, 2016 at 10:13AM

Clark McCauley

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