Alexander Film Works

Writing For No-Budget Film (Part 1)

In Film and Related on July 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm

Since I’m approaching the climax of my academic career at Wayne State, and the demands of “real-world” filmmaking will be apparent all too soon, I thought it would be a good idea (or a Good Idea, however you care to put it) to restate the needs of a script for a low- to no-budget film.

After all, you can write War and Peace as a movie, but can you get the money, as well as the other requirements, to film it?

There are certain things I’ve learned from my research, as well as from experience, that will help you along the way to writing a script that you (or somebody else) can film. So, here they are:

  • Write for a small cast – maybe four or five in a sequence max.
  • Don’t write crowd scenes, car chases, or gunfights if you can avoid it.
  • Remember that motion pictures are emotion pictures; if the audience doesn’t feel something, you might as well not have shot it.
  • Make sure you have everything planned out, even if you don’t shoot it that way; remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.
  • Write for locations you can get for cheap (or free, which is even better).

Can you get access to a bar for free? Are you sure? Then setting scenes in a bar is good.

If you can use parts of an office building to shoot, especially on weekends or holidays, setting scenes in an office building is fine.

You get the idea.

Crowd scenes, if you’re doing something outdoors, can cause neighbors to call the police on you. And if you don’t have a permit, that’s NOT a good thing.

Using weapons, even (or ESPECIALLY) prop weapons, can get you in serious trouble. If you’ve detailed the weapons to LOOK real, a police officer can be fooled into thinking it IS real… and if you don’t obey the officer’s instructions TO THE LETTER, they can shoot. They have real bullets.

As for car chases, try to make the script justify doing it in a deserted location, like in the country, out in the middle of nowhere. This helps to avoid the involvement of the police (again), which will save you a world of hassle.

Now, remember, I’m not trying to f*** with your artistic temperament. I’m just trying to give you some information that will make your life easier.

That’s all.

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