July 13, 2017 at 1:42AM


How much does it cost to make an indie film?

I don't even know where to start and what kind of people I need. I want to shoot on 16mm. I'm going to do it on natural light so I don't need a lighting crew.



July 13, 2017 at 4:11PM, Edited July 13, 4:11PM


This is an impossible question to answer. The cheapest successful film I know is Primer, which was shot for around $7,000.- on 35mm film over 2 days (don't qoute me on the days). The director (Shane Carruth) did everything he could to mitigate costs. He shot with a ratio of about 1:1.5. The movie is about 80 minutes, meaning he had about 120 minutes of footage. All the footage that was left are starts and ends of shots. If digital camera's were the quality they were now, he would have shot digitally (as he did 9 years later with Upstream Color on the GH2). He wrote, produced, directed, lensed, acted, edited and scored the entire thing.

He wrote the script in such a way that everything could be shot for free. He used his and his friends house; the building of the job he left to shoot the film, Asked permission from a storage facility to do a couple of shots, same for a library and an airport. There was only one actor who was a legitimate actor, the rest were family, friends and colleagues. Probably no one on set was payed.

Before he started shooting he made sure he knew everything of everything he needed to know. For instance he locally followed courses on filmmaking, also feverishly reading whatever he could find online. He had never shot anything before he shot this film; he wrote short novels.

The people on set were friends who were just as inexperienced as he was. The boom-operator was probably someone who didn't have to hold anything at that point. Catering was done by his loving family.

Here's the point. If you want to and really push it, you can shoot a film for free, but know exactly what you are going into. Shane Carruth was a computer engineer. He planned everything out to the dot. That's what you need to do if you want to shoot your film for little money.

Though the more money you get, the more responsibility you have to bare, the less risks you can take. In the end it's all guess work. I suggest you read Low to no budget filmmaking. A book about producing indie films.

July 19, 2017 at 4:12PM, Edited July 19, 4:13PM

Auke-Jan Weening

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