Film Making Technology is moving faster than one can imagine. From shooting feature films on a film negative to digital the journey has been evolving at breakneck speed. Cameras (Arri, Red, Panavision, Blackmajic, Canon, etc) being updated every day. New features are being added, resolutions (HD, 2k, 4k etc) are getting better with every new launch. There are many advantages to this change. One big and most significant change is that now, filmmaking is accessible to everybody. You don't really have to depend on studios to get your film made. If you have a great script and a little money you can create your magic.
The big question though is, can you make a film in 50 lakhs?
The answer is yes!
But the process is not easy.
Here are some ways you can make it possible.
Script, Script and Script
One cannot stress enough about the importance of having a full bound script before you start your pre-production work. A film script.is the foundation and spine of your film and it has to be strong for all the other aspects to fall into place. Once you have the script as your base then you will be ready for all the improvisations and challenges that the actual making of the film will throw at you. So, 1st step - get your script ready!
What you should keep in mind when writing/choosing a story
The biggest advantage you have will be the story you choose. Think deep and hard about the idea before you start. Keep in mind that everything you write will cost you so write accordingly. Keep the story real - let the setting of the story be real locations. Avoid stores where you have to create sets or hire expensive props. No period films unless your story is set in a location where time has stood still. Absolutely no costume dramas. No visual effects. Graphics for a film is charged by the second - you don't want to be paying for that.
Choose a subject that you can make with a minimum crew. The more elaborate the conceptualisation the more crew members you will need to accomplish it. So, keep it simple. Do not set the story in a foreign/far off location, travelling, stay add up to the budget and you will not be left with little money to finish production.
Pre-production work is second only to script in terms of how important it is to saving costs. From the right locations to the right equipment you can do multiple permutations to see how you can budget best. Once you have the script and dialogues ready - the first step would be to pick the right crew for your project. Choose technically competent members, they might come at a small cost but they will help you save cost while filming.
Once your crew is in place sit down and plan the whole film as economically as you can. Choose a camera that will capture the script best, and see how that fits your budget. Extra equipment all come at a cost: from track and trolly to jibs, lenses and lights. Plan the shoot in detail and hire extra equipment only when you absolutely need it for the scene. Decide on sound equipment according to locations. Sync sound is always the best to capture the essence of the location and the emotions of the actors. But sync sound needs a big production crew to control the location sounds. Reccee with the team and gauge the advantages and disadvantages of all the locations and finalise the equipment accordingly.
Schedule your shoot when you are almost certain that nature won't play a spoilsport. Avoid the monsoons for sure - rain is not consistent and you will have patchy scenes if the weather God plays a havoc.
Choose your actors wisely
Established actors come at a cost. Maintaining them is not easy. Pick newcomers fresh from acting school or theater. Choose actors who are passionate about the script. Let them have the drive to make this film happen.
Rehearse with your actors so that they know the scenes well because shooting on a low budget is like guerrilla warfare. You just have to shoot and proceed, you do not have the luxury of too many re-takes because time is money. So, the better prepared your actors are the better shooting ratio you will have.
Schedule your shoot realistically. Production is where the outer layer of your film lies. This is what the world will see. You may have many ideas but the whole film will fail if you cannot translate your ideas into light and sound. Remember that everything in the frame is important. Use the locations/actors/equipment to your advantage. There will be many challenges that will come your way, take them in your stride. Improvise every day. Don't slack. Keep to the schedule.
Post-Production is where your film is finally spliced, sliced and ready to serve. Pick your post production studios after visiting different ones. There are many deals that can be struck. Bargain and get what you need for the best cost. Spend some quality time on edit and sound design. Work out as many permutations and combinations. Every frame and every sound wave will play a role in the film as a whole. You will sometimes see yourself re-writing the film script at this stage, know that it is normal. Give the music director enough time to create for you. Don't keep it for the last moment.
The final film mix will cost a little, make sure you have allotted enough of your budget for the final sound mix.
So, can you make a film in 50 lakhs? Most definitely.
Go ahead script, plan, and execute. Don't let money be the factor between you and your film :).
Photo by Obregonia D. Toretto
Cinematography - Bakul Sharma, Sound Design - @Anthony B J Ruban, Location Sound - Chris Burchell, Editor - Sanchari Das Mollick, Drone Shots - Dilan Mandanna, Written and Directed by Priya Belliappa, Produced by Vaanu Timaya, Pictures Unfold in association with Filmocracy Foundation... . . . . . . . .