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how to make a mega cheap 35mm short film


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#1 Phil Thompson

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 05:15 PM

This is the challenge.

make a 15 minute short film on 35 mm for as cheap as possible. The final result must be able to be distributed via DVD.

The film involves mostly 2 main actors. There is dialogue to be captured and some exterior shots.

How cheap do you think you could produce this for.

List your equipment. The winner is the person who can do this the cheapest!
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#2 Mike Kaminski

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 05:24 PM

This is the challenge.

make a 15 minute short film on 35 mm for as cheap as possible. The final result must be able to be distributed via DVD.

The film involves mostly 2 main actors. There is dialogue to be captured and some exterior shots.

How cheap do you think you could produce this for.

List your equipment. The winner is the person who can do this the cheapest!


It was to be finaled on DVD I'd just shoot super 16 and save half the budget right off the bat.
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#3 John Pytlak RIP

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Posted 08 March 2006 - 08:37 PM

It was to be finaled on DVD I'd just shoot super 16 and save half the budget right off the bat.


Certainly Super-16 is a very viable option, giving the "film look" at considerable savings:

http://www.kodak.com/go/16mm
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#4 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 03:29 AM

This is the challenge.

make a 15 minute short film on 35 mm for as cheap as possible. The final result must be able to be distributed via DVD.

The film involves mostly 2 main actors. There is dialogue to be captured and some exterior shots.

How cheap do you think you could produce this for.

List your equipment. The winner is the person who can do this the cheapest!


The film is shot on B&W reversal 200 to 400 asa film short ends in 50 to 170 ft lengths using a konvas reostate 1m MOS camera w/ a 50mm lomo lens, 6 volt 13 amp power supply, 2 50ft walmart extention cords a light meter, sharpies, a roll of grip tape, orange sticks, a thick blanket and a changing bag, filming a 2 to 1 shooting ratio. Actors and crew are rehearsed for one day then Shooting is done over the course of 1 full day. call is 5am. lighting is all abient w/ home made cardboard and tin foil reflectors and styrafoam bead board scrounged from packaging. It is shot during the day near big windows in a private home eather yours or a friend's that will let you use it for free and in the surrounding yard, exteriors are shot during golden hour or in the shade. lunch is homemade spagetti, drinks are from Sam's Club. actors and crew provide their own transportation. The dialog is captured on a cassette tape recorder that has phono plug, and earjack w/ a radio shack coldial mic taped to the end of a broom handle, phono to 1/8in adapter and ear plug or phones. Slate is homemade. The entire piece must be storyboarded, w/ shot and editing lists.


The film is staged so that it is done primarily with reaction shots. The lips of the person talking are seen only for a second perhaps the first word or two then cut or panned to the other charicture while rest of the dialog is in VO to shoot the reaction shot or to a cutaway. The camera is set back and wraped in the blanket to reduce noise. The dialog should be repeated after each take for backup. No sound effects or foley unless they can be downloaded from the net for free. All music is original and uses only guitar or piano also done by a friend, aquaintence or downloaded for free. All titles are signs, paper cutouts or wooden block letters. The piece is set in present day and all props are everyday household items already availible and there are no stunts or FX. Cast must be voluntary and costumes should be made up of their own cloths.

The camera is handheld or steadied on availible surfaces. A student must be on the all volunteer 3 man crew w/ at least one of them in possesion of a student ID to present for film processing. The crew consists of a camera man / lighting designer, a soundman and a camera asistant / grip. The director / producer / grip tries to fill in the gaps. makeup and hair is done by the actors or for free by a volunteer. All equipment used on the production must be free to use or already owned by the prodution members. all scenes must be written or rewritten to accomidate the available equipment and restrictions of the set and props.

footage is processed w/out any special requests and transfered to mini dv on disc

Editing is done on used 800 mhz home pc w/ at least 40 gig hard drive, 128 megs of ram, dvd burner using A/B roll downloaded for free and cheapest authoring software availble that will burn movies, unless a more powerful PC is availble for free, . The film is edited by the filmmaker. The finished film is burned to dvd.

This is very similar to the way Rodeguez shot El Meriachi.
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#5 Phil Thompson

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 06:19 AM

The film is shot on B&W reversal 200 to 400 asa film short ends in 50 to 170 ft lengths using a konvas reostate 1m MOS camera w/ a 50mm lomo lens, 6 volt 13 amp power supply, 2 50ft walmart extention cords a light meter, sharpies, a roll of grip tape, orange sticks, a thick blanket and a changing bag, filming a 2 to 1 shooting ratio. Actors and crew are rehearsed for one day then Shooting is done over the course of 1 full day. call is 5am. lighting is all abient w/ home made cardboard and tin foil reflectors and styrafoam bead board scrounged from packaging. It is shot during the day near big windows in a private home eather yours or a friend's that will let you use it for free and in the surrounding yard, exteriors are shot during golden hour or in the shade. lunch is homemade spagetti, drinks are from Sam's Club. actors and crew provide their own transportation. The dialog is captured on a cassette tape recorder that has phono plug, and earjack w/ a radio shack coldial mic taped to the end of a broom handle, phono to 1/8in adapter and ear plug or phones. Slate is homemade. The entire piece must be storyboarded, w/ shot and editing lists.
The film is staged so that it is done primarily with reaction shots. The lips of the person talking are seen only for a second perhaps the first word or two then cut or panned to the other charicture while rest of the dialog is in VO to shoot the reaction shot or to a cutaway. The camera is set back and wraped in the blanket to reduce noise. The dialog should be repeated after each take for backup. No sound effects or foley unless they can be downloaded from the net for free. All music is original and uses only guitar or piano also done by a friend, aquaintence or downloaded for free. All titles are signs, paper cutouts or wooden block letters. The piece is set in present day and all props are everyday household items already availible and there are no stunts or FX. Cast must be voluntary and costumes should be made up of their own cloths.

The camera is handheld or steadied on availible surfaces. A student must be on the all volunteer 3 man crew w/ at least one of them in possesion of a student ID to present for film processing. The crew consists of a camera man / lighting designer, a soundman and a camera asistant / grip. The director / producer / grip tries to fill in the gaps. makeup and hair is done by the actors or for free by a volunteer. All equipment used on the production must be free to use or already owned by the prodution members. all scenes must be written or rewritten to accomidate the available equipment and restrictions of the set and props.

footage is processed w/out any special requests and transfered to mini dv on disc

Editing is done on used 800 mhz home pc w/ at least 40 gig hard drive, 128 megs of ram, dvd burner using A/B roll downloaded for free and cheapest authoring software availble that will burn movies, unless a more powerful PC is availble for free, . The film is edited by the filmmaker. The finished film is burned to dvd.

This is very similar to the way Rodeguez shot El Meriachi.


The single most interesting, amusing and insightful post I've probably ever read on the internet.
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#6 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 06:28 AM

great post!!

one step up from that :-)

-- total cost --

£70 a min - so if you shoot (two to one ratio) then 30 x £70 | three to one = 45 x £70 etc

thanks

Rolfe
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#7 Thomas Worth

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 08:37 AM

The dialog is captured on a cassette tape recorder that has phono plug, and earjack w/ a radio shack coldial mic taped to the end of a broom handle, phono to 1/8in adapter and ear plug or phones.

Better yet, borrow the cheapest MiniDV camcorder you can, and use it for recording sound. It'll give you DAT quality audio (48 kHz, 16 bit) and simplify the transfer to the PC for editing.

footage is processed w/out any special requests and transfered to mini dv on disc

Transfer to MiniDV tape, and use the camcorder you borrowed as a deck for editing. This will also allow you to view the footage on a television screen, allowing you to make somewhat accurate visual adjustments to the picture.
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#8 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 01:46 PM

Why not just process the film yourself and run it through a projector then record it off a wall? That'll save even more money!

Often when I start to think about this game I think back to the old triangle theory that I recently read Gore recite in his book:

.........GOOD

FAST............CHEAP



You can have two parts of the triangle but you can't have three.

El Mariachi is good but obviously low budget and was filmed on 16mm. Rodriguez had to rerecord all dialogue in ADR. There is maybe a reason why he never made a film in this method again.

Edited by Trevor Greenfield, 09 March 2006 - 01:46 PM.

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#9 Trevor Greenfield

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 02:00 PM

Better yet, borrow the cheapest MiniDV camcorder you can, and use it for recording sound. It'll give you DAT quality audio (48 kHz, 16 bit) and simplify the transfer to the PC for editing.
Transfer to MiniDV tape, and use the camcorder you borrowed as a deck for editing. This will also allow you to view the footage on a television screen, allowing you to make somewhat accurate visual adjustments to the picture.


The problem with recording dialogue when using a Konvas is it is rated at something like 55 db before blimping. Unless you wanted to shoot it all telephoto you would definitely pick up the camera noise in the audio.
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#10 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 02:52 PM

Why not just process the film yourself and run it through a projector then record it off a wall? That'll save even more money!

Often when I start to think about this game I think back to the old triangle theory that I recently read Gore recite in his book:

.........GOOD

FAST............CHEAP
You can have two parts of the triangle but you can't have three.

El Mariachi is good but obviously low budget and was filmed on 16mm. Rodriguez had to rerecord all dialogue in ADR. There is maybe a reason why he never made a film in this method again.

T
hen you gotta buy a tank, chemicals and build a drying rackand have a place to do it, and if you have no expirence you can very easily screw up the film plus you would still have to eather edit on a flatbed which you would have to rent and run the risk of scratching the print and/or ship the (edited or unedited) film off to have it transfered to disc. I my opionion it's not worth the risk and the expence would probably be close to a wash.

Edited by Capt.Video, 09 March 2006 - 03:01 PM.

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#11 LUKExBB

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 05:01 PM

T
hen you gotta buy a tank, chemicals and build a drying rackand have a place to do it, and if you have no expirence you can very easily screw up the film plus you would still have to eather edit on a flatbed which you would have to rent and run the risk of scratching the print and/or ship the (edited or unedited) film off to have it transfered to disc. I my opionion it's not worth the risk and the expence would probably be close to a wash.


I think Trevor was being sarcastic
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#12 Kevin Zanit

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 05:35 PM

The cheapest short I have ever done shot on 35 with any sort of production value and crew was around $15,000. Of course you can do things much cheaper, but at a certain point, why even shoot 35? The format is fairly irrelevant when you don?t have the equipment to do a decent job lighting it. Of course nice work can be done in available light/ with cheap home brewed solutions, but that only goes so far, and is not always repeatable.
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#13 Mike Welle

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 05:38 PM

Better yet, borrow the cheapest MiniDV camcorder you can, and use it for recording sound. It'll give you DAT quality audio (48 kHz, 16 bit) and simplify the transfer to the PC for editing.
Transfer to MiniDV tape, and use the camcorder you borrowed as a deck for editing. This will also allow you to view the footage on a television screen, allowing you to make somewhat accurate visual adjustments to the picture.


Hi,
I went on the B and H Photo website and found the least expensive MiniDV camcorder with 16 bit/48Khz audio and a headphone and microphone input ($499.95). Be very careful when selecting a MiniDV camcorder that it has these features. When searching B and H I had to peruse a large portion of the list, after typing in "Mini DV camcorder". The first camera I found, that actually had a mic input and headphone jack (which are essential) was a Panasonic. Another good feature about these camcorders (besides the high quality audio) is that you can mount them to your film camera via the 1/4"-20 screw receptacle. I have yet to do this in practice, but in theory it should work. Add a Rode Video Mic on top of it, and you have a decent audio set up. Yes it's no Sennheiser, but it's better than nothing and certainly competent. Oh, here is the link:

http://www.bhphotovi...oughType=search

Mike Welle

Edited by Mike Welle, 09 March 2006 - 05:45 PM.

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#14 James Steven Beverly

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 07:18 PM

I think Trevor was being sarcastic


Yeah, I know he was, but I was making a point for the others reading this. The challange was to come up with a plan to do a short with reasonable production value, shot on 35mm in the absolute cheapest way possible. If the script were a characture driven piece, comedy or drama, It COULD be done this way IF the actors and crew were good, with some reasonable expectation of success.

Edited by Capt.Video, 09 March 2006 - 07:19 PM.

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#15 Rolfe Klement

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 07:29 PM

I shot this spec trailer for £400 in one day

http://www.creatives...s/Saltmusic.mov

My camera, me as DOP and pulling my own focus - Fstop was a great help on the day as well

thanks

Rolfe
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#16 Hal Smith

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 07:34 PM

One way of going cheap with lighting is to use theatrical, rather than motion picture, lighting gear. I've bought cast aluminum Strand babies (6" 1kW fresnels) off ebay for less than many rental places want for a week's rental on an Arri baby. Lamps can be purchased as cheap as $8 or so. There's a company importing imitation Source 4 Pars that are going new on ebay for $70 buy-it-now with three lenses - they're worth checking out. I bought a Strand Bambino 5kW Senior for $100 off ebay that needed a little fixing in the shop, no parts, just some fiddling. I suspect that a well spent $500-$1000 would put together a lighting kit including stands that would cost that for a week or two's rental. You'd have ugly yellow and orange Home Depot stingers, etc. but it'd all work. You definitely would have no bragging rights at the Cinematographer/Gaffer/Grip bar after work but plenty of controllable foot-candles on set and location none-the-less. :)

Edmond, OK
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#17 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 09:31 PM

Hi,

As regards ugly cabling, I think the best-looking part of a lot of my home-rigged gear is the cabling! It's vastly cheaper to buy the parts and throw them together yourself, and you can pick your cable style...

Phil
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#18 Dan Goulder

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 11:10 PM

I shot this spec trailer for £400 in one day

http://www.creatives...s/Saltmusic.mov

My camera, me as DOP and pulling my own focus - Fstop was a great help on the day as well

thanks

Rolfe

You get a lot done in one day. What camera and lenses did you use?
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#19 Luke Prendergast

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Posted 09 March 2006 - 11:18 PM

As regards ugly cabling, I think the best-looking part of a lot of my home-rigged gear is the cabling!


A jelly bean assortment of cables helps identify what's what on set. When a cable has to be hidden in a shot I use black or white.
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#20 Hal Smith

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Posted 10 March 2006 - 01:35 AM

A jelly bean assortment of cables helps identify what's what on set. When a cable has to be hidden in a shot I use black or white.

Great point - I've been doing exactly that with radio studio wiring for years - good quality studio wiring like Clark, West Penn, and Gepco can be purchased in more than 10 colors. Colored tyraps would work very nicely on the ends of plain black rubber SO stingers to identify circuits. I'll be including that idea in my bag of tricks. (colored tape eventually gets all gooey - tyraps won't).

Edmond, OK
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