5 Low Budget Feature Writing Tips

Joshua Caldwell is an MTV Movie Award winning director, writer, and producer. Here he breaks into 5 tips for writing a low budget feature film.


Here are some things I’ve learned about writing a no-budget film:

1. Utilize modular storytelling. The easiest way to understand modular storytelling is to think of a movie camera (film or digital, take your pick). At its most basic, it’s a lens and a camera body. However, because of how a camera is designed, you can add on extra items like a rails system, mattebox, follow focus, monitors, and gadgets of all kinds. But adding those things doesn’t change the fundamental nature of the camera itself: a body and a lens. And even if you can’t afford all those other add-ons, you can still use the camera.

The camera and lens is your story, and all the add-ons are the things that you may or may not be able to afford (chase scenes, props, cars, locations, etc). Removing those items doesn’t change the story you’re trying to tell.

The story is the story, whether you have these other things or not. You should be able to tell an engaging, interesting version of the story without the bells and whistles. The easiest way to think about this is:

2. Your story should be able to take place in a vacuum. I don’t necessarily mean it should be two characters in a white room; rather, it’s that you have the ability to shift and adjust things as you make it. If your film cannot be made anywhere else except for a very specific location that is unobtainable on a low budget, then you’re going to run into problems.

In LAYOVER, most of the scenes could have been set in any location. While some details of the conversation might have been adjusted, the fundamentals of the scene wouldn’t have had to change. In that way, the lookout could have been any lookout, the house could have been any house, the hotel could have been any hotel. Leave the details out of your script until you either know where you’re shooting or know what you can definitely get. Which leads me to the next tip:

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How They Shot the New SNL Title Sequence

Alex Buono gives us a great break down of the techniques used to create a low-fi title sequence to the 40th season of “Saturday Night Live”

SNL Bokeh

…And we’re back! After a much-needed summer hiatus, it’s that time of the year again when my comrades in the SNL Film Unit all reconvene on the 17th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza for another season of filmmaking speed-drills.

While the usual shoot is a dead sprint from Thursday thru Saturday night, every few years we produce a new Title Sequence and that sprint becomes a 3-week non-stop marathon. Especially when it’s the 40th Anniversary season. The passing of Don Pardo — the legendary voice of SNL since 1975 — only amplified the feeling that this new sequence needed to be something extra special.

As always, the titles are a huge team effort. Our director, Rhys Thomas, spent the summer collaborating with our logo design team at Pentragram Design, led by Emily Oberman, and with our portrait photographer, Mary Ellen Mathews, on a new logo and font design along with a set of mood-boards to experiment with the overall tone of the sequence. The idea was to honor the 40-year history of the show with something classic and iconic, a little more dressed-up than previous seasons and with typography that was integrated into the cityscape.

Alex Buono | Read the Full Article

Gone Girl goes from raw 6K footage to Hollywood thriller with the power of Adobe Premiere Pro CC

Two-time Academy-winning editor Kirk Baxter, ACE, discusses how Premiere Pro and other Adobe apps like After Effects give him a powerful editing and post-production toolset. See how the tight integration of Adobe video apps helped Baxter and team turn the raw footage of David Fincher’s thriller Gone Girl into a polished motion picture.

Editing Gone Girl1

Breaking Into Hollywood: ‘No’ Is Just a Conversation Starter

Gary W. Goldstein has produced some of Hollywood biggest box-office hits (Pretty Woman, Under Siege, The Mothman Prophecies), generating well over One Billion Dollars in worldwide revenue, receiving multiple Academy Award nominations, a Golden Globe and numerous other accolades.


When I first drove into this sprawling metropolis – this City of Angels that seemed it could swallow whole the San Francisco I’d just left and still be hungry for more – I found it intoxicating and inspiring, imposing and impenetrable. I’d no idea how to literally or metaphorically navigate the beast of a dream that brought me to this land of endless freeways. I was exhilarated, afraid and mostly lost.

Do not pass “Go” until you get it in writing!After better than a decade spent discovering, nurturing and launching careers as a literary manager, primarily repping writers and directors, I switched hats but continued the search for brilliant new talent as a producer. Failure didn’t evaporate, it just simply had to accept sharing the limelight with bigger and more consistent successes.

Over the years, after countless scraped knees and flat-out failures – a seemingly endless parade of emotional, mental and financial defeats – all that trial and error paid off. The strategies, systems and mindset that consistently triggered successes stood out in bold relief, in contrast to all the attempts, ideas and approaches that, at best, wasted time and, at worst, failed miserably.

ScriptMag | Read the Full Article

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