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Low(No) budget feature


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#1 muhammet

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:01 PM

Hi everyone,
Its not easy to decide where to start ..

I have produced a written work in the last 3 months which I think can be accepted as a short novel(110p) at the moment. I will be sending it to the publishers in my home country soon. This work initially was a preparation for a low-budget feature film script and next few months will be used only for adapting it for film. At the moment it still requires a lot of work before it becomes a film script. At the same time I have been researching on possible production budget and some technical issues. I have some questions listed and will appreciate your valuable replies. Also I try to give an overview of my limited experience in filmmaking just incase it may help you evaluate this case objectively. Lastly I do apoligize in advance for any wrong spellings, overstatements and presumptions.
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3 short films on minidv, 2 short films on 16mm (student films)
1 music video shot on 16mm-TC&-Cgraded, 3 corparate Video Dvcam (professional)
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S16 or 35mm? As this is my first ever film in this length and budget (150k) About the format choice all I know is that I would like to shoot on Negative rather than video but which one? this question remains.
The shooting ratio is a slim and tiny 6:1 on 35mm. with mostly local theater actors as the cast I guess this is also very limited but I would like to hear what you think on this.
The camrera will not be moving(most of the time). Some pans but not much else. Any ideas how many camera crew will be needed?
Is it a good idea to approach talents as focus pullers, camera assistants as possible DoP for this project?
Lastly Two things...firts the stock numbers do they really make a huge difference? and secondly Fuji seems to be a slightly cheaper option . interms of looks I couldnt see much of a difference. Any comments?

Thank you.

muhammet

Edited by muhammet, 03 September 2006 - 09:02 PM.

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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:11 PM

You could make a nice-looking feature in S16 for 150K.
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#3 Michael Collier

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 09:18 PM

At that budget I would recomend S16 just for cost savings. In 35 you may spend upwards of 100,000 just for the film. That would leave very little for essentials like camera and light, not to mention actual production requirements. With 16 you could probably do it all for under 50K.

I think a minimum crew would be:

Director
Cinematographer (and cam op)
1AC
Grip/Gaffer (2 if you can afford it)
Boom Op/Record
Script supervisor
electric
PA

That would be bare bones, but a feature could work on that, if the setups are simple.

Then you gotta plan for post as well. That can run quite a bit, but there are easy ways to save money.
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#4 Matt Workman

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 10:55 PM

As an beginning AC/DP I would love to be hired for a feature s16 or 35! But as a producer I would steer clear of assistants and go for an experienced DP.

If you have $150,000 secured, paying an experienced DP is a good investment, seeing as he will probably be the most experienced person there. You will save money with a bumped AC/Operator but your film "on set" will suffer and your final product will too. The DP will most likely be able to hire the entire crew from past experience and get you good rates at the rental house and lab.

This is mainly quoting from "From Reel to Deel" but it holds true in my experience too.

Though everyone makes the jump at one point, you could being making someone's career. :D

As for 16 v. 35 it depends on the deels you can cut. Short ends, DP w/ equipment, relative at Technicolor, etc. But I would aim for 35mm if its feasible and it wouldn't limit the film horribly. As mentioned 16mm you could definitely hire a good DP and be a little more spontaneous.
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#5 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 11:20 PM

I shot one feature in that budget range in 35mm but a huge percentage of the budget went to shooting in 35mm (stock, processing, camera rental) -- on the other hand, once the editing was finished, we could just cut the negative and strike a print without the costs of a blow-up. However, I think S16 would be a little more flexible and friendly to your budget. But if you can ensure a really low shooting ratio and can get away with a simple A-B neg cut and print, 35mm is not out of the realm of possibility on a 150K budget.

Some people are shooting S16 and doing an HD finish, and then projecting it in HD at festivals.

If you are shooting in 35mm on a really tight budget, shoot whatever you can get the best deal on. For S16, I tend to favor Kodak over Fuji just because Kodak is a little sharper, which helps in S16 -- but I'm not talking about a dramatic difference here. I'd probably see if I could shoot the bulk of my interior scenes on a 200 to 250 ASA stock if I wanted a fine-grained image for a blow-up, save the 500T for low-light shots, night exteriors, etc. For 35mm, it's not so critical.

Actually, the new Fuji Eterna 250T and 250D stocks may be worth testing in S16 to see how they hold up -- otherwise, I'd tend to go for Kodak Vision 200T and 250D for interiors in S16. This is assuming you aren't looking for a grainier texture.
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#6 Matt Workman

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 11:28 PM

I shot one feature in that budget range in 35mm but a huge percentage of the budget went to shooting in 35mm (stock, processing, camera rental)


What kind of transfer did you do? I guess you could just do a cheap 1-light to DV if you can use the EDL and just cut the actual 35mm neg. Is that cheaper than doing an HD scan for 16mm?

For the 200T does this usually assume a pretty nice lighting package? For my little s16mm projects I was planning on 500T because we have a less than modest package. But the issue of grain/16mm is something I hadn't really considered.

(BTW) What is with the new forum organization? Its like a message board now... I'm not sure I like it. And I'm even more sure that my opinion doesn't really matter. :rolleyes:

Edited by Matt Workman, 03 September 2006 - 11:33 PM.

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#7 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 11:41 PM

What kind of transfer did you do? I guess you could just do a cheap 1-light to DV if you can use the EDL and just cut the actual 35mm neg. Is that cheaper than doing an HD scan for 16mm?

For the 200T does this usually assume a pretty nice lighting package? For my little s16mm projects I was planning on 500T because we have a less than modest package. But the issue of grain/16mm is something I hadn't really considered.

(BTW) What is with the new forum organization? Its like a message board now... I'm not sure I like it. And I'm even more sure that my opinion doesn't really matter. :rolleyes:


This was in 1999 -- I think they transferred to beta-SP. HD transfers of course are much more expensive.

When considering the extra costs of transferring and mastering to HD, you have to think about whether your final 35mm project, even if finished to film, has to later be transferred to HD from an IP for home video deliverables, plus in the case of S16-to-HD, whether this allows you to screen the movie in high-quality HD digital projection while you look for distribution that can pay for a transfer to 35mm -- and if it never comes, at least you have an HD master to use for home video deliverables.

So if your goal is just a 35mm print for projection, shooting in 35mm may be cheaper, or S16 for an optical printer blow-up. But if your goal is both a 35mm print and all your home video deliverables, and S16-to-HD approach, and an HD-to-35mm film-out, though expensive, may not be much more than shooting in 35mm, finishing to film, but doing an HD transfer -- or even if S16-to-HD is a little more, it work better in terms of cash flow.

You just have to budget out all the different possible workflows.

As for the forum, nothing has changed in terms of the layout, how posts appear, how you post, or anything -- so I'm not sure what you are referring to, unless you have been away for the past year and missed the last redesign, which I recall was several months ago.
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#8 Matt Workman

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Posted 03 September 2006 - 11:52 PM

As for the forum, nothing has changed in terms of the layout, how posts appear, how you post, or anything -- so I'm not sure what you are referring to, unless you have been away for the past year and missed the last redesign, which I recall was several months ago.


Thanks for the info. The super16-HD really makes sense in that light, thats why Arri/Aaton have probably just released their new cams.


As for the forum when I click on the thread it only shows the first post. Then at the bottom it has the "message tree" hierarchy. I only noticed this recently. Has it always been like this? Its like some of the other forums I'm on so I'm used to it.
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#9 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 12:09 AM

As for the forum when I click on the thread it only shows the first post. Then at the bottom it has the "message tree" hierarchy. I only noticed this recently. Has it always been like this? Its like some of the other forums I'm on so I'm used to it.


My screen doesn't appear that way. Maybe there's a way to configure your screen preferences that got changed. Go to My Controls and see if the preferences are set the way you want.
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#10 Jaan Shenberger

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 01:10 AM

As for the forum when I click on the thread it only shows the first post. Then at the bottom it has the "message tree" hierarchy. I only noticed this recently. Has it always been like this? Its like some of the other forums I'm on so I'm used to it.



in the upper right corner of the discussion box/area (to the direct right of where it reads "Low(No) budget feature, Inexperinced Filmmaker would like to hear from you.") click on the "options" dropdown and select "standard".

btw, tim or whoever else, if i open more than one discussion without waiting for them to load one at a time, or if i try to scroll down before the page is completely loaded, safari crashes. i'm running osx 10.3.9.

i visit other forums with the same thread system software you use and this is the only one that does it... not complaining, just letting you know in case it helps.
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#11 Jerry Murrel

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 01:11 AM

You could make a nice-looking feature in S16 for 150K.


Hi David,

Do you have an idea as to what that hypothetical $150,000 S16 budget would
increase to if one were to shoot 35mm instead? (with same small crew, and keeping
same crew and talent...)

-Jerry Murrel
1st camera assistant
Los Angeles, CA
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#12 Wilkin Chau

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 07:53 AM

A couple other pointers.

Try to avoid doing this feature during the busy season where you are shooting.

You are more likely to get a sweet deal at Whites or PS if you are asking during a slow period (say December-January in Toronto). At times the guys practically rent out stuff for free....but only during dead times.

Also, you are more likely to find decent crew during dead periods of the year. Since you probably aren't going to pay much it's better if you shoot IMO during a time when people aren't doing anything.
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#13 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 11:17 AM

35mm 4-perf stock will cost you about 4X that of S16, but that's assuming you use the same shooting ratios. In terms of footage being processed, it's about 2X more footage for 35mm than S16 (1000' rolls instead of 400' rolls.)

If you shoot about 100,000' of 35mm for a feature, you'll probably spend around $60,000 or more on stock and processing / telecine, so a wildly rough estimate would be half to a third that for a Super-16 shoot overall. But then you've got the costs of a blow-up to consider.
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#14 Richard Boddington

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Posted 04 September 2006 - 12:10 PM

"The shooting ratio is a slim and tiny 6:1 on 35mm"

Well many indie films are made on much lower ratios than this. I've done a lot of shorts on 35mm on a 1:1 ratio, one of those films went on to be a finalist at the Miami Film Festival and we just used a few short ends and did one take for 90% of shots. People often laugh at this, but it can be done.

Also you can get 35mm film stock dirt cheap these days. You can get new in the can stock in the after market for less than a third of the retail price. Look up the DR Group on Google, tell them the stock you need and if it comes in in a large amount you can score it real cheap. A 35mm feature could easily be shot with a raw stock budget of $10,000.00 or less. What ever you do, do not pay retail to Kodak for film stock, it will kill you.

For processing and transfer, negotiate a flat rate for your film based on it being a first feature. This is critical so that you can go over time as much as you need during transfer and not be charged any extra money. Lock them into a low price for the entire project and that is all you'll pay. I do this all the time.

R,
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Tai Audio

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Broadcast Solutions Inc

Aerial Filmworks

Technodolly

Glidecam

The Slider

Opal

Gamma Ray Digital Inc

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Ritter Battery

FJS International, LLC

Willys Widgets

rebotnix Technologies

Rig Wheels Passport

CineLab

Visual Products