PRODUCTION TIPS: 3 Tips to Working With a Tight Budget

Filmmakers, no, you will not go to jail for bankruptcy. Fraud on the other hand...
It is difficult to plan ahead and come up with the perfect budget for a film but the allure of making a film can not be denied. And so, the filmmaker plods ahead come what may to make that film. But for low-budget indie filmmakers all it takes is one misbudgeted item to derail the whole project.

So when you gotta make that film even if you lack enough funds then you must be efficient and flexible to make it to the finish line. Here are 3 tips to get there:
    • Find the best Writer, Protagonist Actor/Actress, DP, Sound Mixer, Line Producer / Production Manager, Lawyer and Editor you can afford. Develop a professional relationship and friendly rapport with them. Think long term.
    • If you can't afford their fees, put together a compensation package that is more than just credit and deferred compensation. Even low pay is better than nothing. Some other forms of compensation:
      • Profit participation for select cast and crew.
      • Offer your services and assistance on THEIR future productions.
      • Purchase equipment for them.
      • Rent them your equipment, location or other possession at a discount.
      • Provide them with access to a location or introduce them to a key cast/crew-member or investor for their project.
      • Share their project or services on social media and other publicity outlets.
    • Create a budget with a contingency amount that will allow you to be flexible and respond to change.
    • Don't use the latest audio and video equipment to make your film. Note that a buzzed-about film like Tangerine was shot on an iPhone. IMO, it's more important to have a good cast and crew then to have the latest technology.
    • Make or build your equipment. You have ducttape, wires, markers, pens, pencils, paper, wood, cardboard, fabric, tools, thrift stores, junkyards, 99-cent stores, ingenuity and the internet. There is no excuse why your extremely low budget has to be used to buy or rent slates, lighting kits, dollies, costumes, etc. when you can build them yourself. Again, it's better to spend that money on living, breathing talent then on inanimate objects.
    • Start building your audience from the moment you start writing your script. Even if you're not trying to be as calculated as an MBA-trained marketing professional, you still have an idea who might be attracted to your film. It can be your peers or fans of your past work or festivals you have been accepted to or the demographic you and your script's characters belong to. Ideally, you should explore the marketing potential of your film through research and analysis but even if you don't, your intuitive knowledge about who your audience is still helpful. That means you should start reaching out to that audience ASAP. Tweet and post about your script to your followers and friends. Have readings of your script, if possible. Collect contact information throughout every step of the way and then show them behind the scenes pix, exclusive scene clips and background information on your story. Be creative and use humor or build suspense about the project to entice your audience. And don't forget that crowdfunding not only can bring in the money, it can bring in the fans. 
Danny Jiminian is a producer and attorney who specializes in Entertainment Law, Intellectual Property, Business Law and Nonprofits and practices out of New York. For a free consultation, email him.

Matter included here or in linked websites may not be current. It is advisable to consult with a competent professional before relying on any written commentary. No attorney client relationship is established by the viewing, use, or communication in any manner through this web site. Nothing on this blog or blog posting is official legal advice; it is just information and opinion. But if you want to, you can visit my professional website and hire me at

Image posted originally by Craig Newman


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