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Shooting a film for $100,000


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#1 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 17 July 2013 - 07:56 PM

Hello all,

It's going to take a couple more years because I'm self-financing, but eventually I'm going to hit $100,000 in personal savings and I'm going to use it to shoot a film on film, finished on film. 

Is there anything I should know as I go about budgeting this? 

 

Here are some costs I've come up with:

-Cost of 35mm negative

-Film processing

-35mm Workprint/Dailies

-Mag sound transfer (on-set dialog from Nagra, sound effects, and music tapes)

-Negative cutting

-IP print timed by a colorist

-IP transfer to DVD for festival submission

 

-Cinematographer and camera rental, carbon arc lamps, gennys, proper lenses, etc.

-***Actors

-***Crew and production costs

-***Musicians (non-union)

-Music studio rental

-KEM Steinbeck 6 plate purchase or rental

-Nagra 4.2 purchase+tapes, mikes

 

Good news:

-I'm the producer, director, writer, and composer- so no need to pay those. 

 

It's important to me that this is done in as old-school a way as possible, so even the 500 speed film will be stopped down to 100 or below with ND filters, necessitating the use of powerful lights to expose the frame.  Perhaps even pushing the film a stop after stopping it down will give it the right textured quality.  We'll have to see.  Lenses are important.  I basically want it to look like hard-lit 70s TV. 

 

Since I am so focused on the process and the technical end, I realize the film and processing will eat up most of the budget and will leave little room for the people.  My questions is whether it is inconvenient or impossible to get these people: actors, crew, and musicians, involved if I cannot give them a good stipend for each day's work.  Any personal experience would be very helpful.

 

Your thoughts would be much appreciated.  Thanks! 


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#2 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 07:10 AM

P.S. I should add that the movie will be shot entirely on location, and the script is, out of necessity, relatively simple to execute.


Edited by Joseph Konrad, 18 July 2013 - 07:10 AM.

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#3 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 09:16 AM

I'm not sure why carbon arc lights are being included, assuming you could get them, the need for DC generators etc would put them well outside this budget range. I wouldn't bother about inter positives etc, just make a print from the camera neg. The problem with needing powerful lights is power and since you're going to be in the USA, I'm assuming you're going to do a mains tie in.  Why get 500 ASA film stock, when you can use 200T? All that ND tends to make for a darker viewfinder. I don't think the modern stocks look like Kodak 5254.

 

You can get people to work on a film for experience, although it helps if they really like the story. For it to work, the story does need to fit with using all the traditional processes.


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#4 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 09:47 AM

Thank you for the input, Brian.  Any comment is especially useful because this is going to be 1 of 3 movies I want to self-finance on this budget (and submit to festivals) every other year, so I want to make sure and get everything planned out right the first time out. 

 

I've been told that the carbon arcs throw warmer light and it's exclusively what was used before HMI's came onto the picture.  I agree the modern stocks don't look like 5254, which is too bad, but I thought that maybe the grainier 500T, if stopped down enough, lit hard, and then pushed a stop...this might give interesting results.  The new Witter-Cinetec 200D looks very interesting too, although it's only in 16mm.

 

The story for this first one very much fits in with the use of older methods-actually, it's a movie that could have been shot in the 70s, which is something I can't really break myself out of- it's what I grew up watching and loving, and a big part of it is that I regret not being around during that time of Lucas, Spieberg, and Coppola to comment on the cultural change happening at the time, to have my say.  So I want to dig up the cultural war as if it were still those days, and have the last word with films that could have come out of that tumultuous time, because in my mind we are still feeling the after-effects of what happened then.  Maybe people would stop to think- what have we done!

 

Plus I just really like the aesthetic, the treatment of music, the bizarre feeling of a culture in the midst of destroying itself- everything.  And the number one goal is always entertainment, and I find movies from the mid 60s to mid 80s infinitely more entertaining and better than now (with some notable modern exceptions).

 

I hope I can get good people to work for experience...though I wonder if location matters- of course LA has a lot of out-of-work professionals, but I wonder about smaller cities like Boston that are not as well known for having a thriving industry.

 

Thanks for the comment!


Edited by Joseph Konrad, 18 July 2013 - 09:51 AM.

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#5 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:16 AM

I've been told that the carbon arcs throw warmer light and it's exclusively what was used before HMI's came onto the picture.

 

Although these do create a great light, I would just forget about these, assuming you can find working examples in your area, you also need a skilled, full time operator.


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#6 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 11:31 AM

I'm not sure if I can really get behind hair-shirt filmmaking.

 

Sure, if the old techniques are something you like, for whatever reason, use them wherever it's reasonably practical. But don't go out of your way to make life difficult, as carbon arcs and insisting on insensitive film will. It's hard to see any artistic value in this, anymore than there is value in slipping some stones into your shoes and walking around all day. 

 

The watchability of the result will suffer and if you're not trying to create something watchable then you aren't really making a movie, you're making an art piece about making a movie.

 

P


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#7 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 12:18 PM

Maybe I am misunderstanding something, but I have always thought slower speed films looked far superior to faster films in terms of the "3d-ness" of the image, if that makes any sense.  

I want it to look basically like this:



If there is not enough available light to properly expose the frame, treat it as if it is higher and then just push it afterwards.  But I like the challenge of having to shoot indoors on 100 ASA or less.  Maybe that makes me crazy, I don't know, but I do think that to replicate the style you need to have all the ingredients/components there.  It's not for the sake of self-flagellation, but more because I'm afraid if I compromise on any of the components, I'm not going to get the result I want.

It's going to look crude by modern standards.


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#8 Brian Drysdale

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 02:06 PM

In the 1970s there is quite a range of photographic styles using these 100 ASA stocks. For example, "The Godfather" looks way different to Colunbo..


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#9 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 02:27 PM

In the 1970s there is quite a range of photographic styles using these 100 ASA stocks. For example, "The Godfather" looks way different to Colunbo..

 

That's very true of course.  My concern is just getting the technical end set so we don't have to worry about mimicking anything artificially, and then we can shoot in whatever style we want.  I do love hard light and I'd probably trend more towards the look of the quick and dirty TV episodes from the time; this is a discussion to have with the cinematographer when the time comes.

 

Edit: What a beautiful movie The Godfather is, though.  And its sequel- a great example of how to avoid lighting a movie!


Edited by Joseph Konrad, 18 July 2013 - 02:30 PM.

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#10 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 04:14 PM

You could do that hard lighting style on faster stocks, you'd just get more of a stop (or be able to use a lower wattage lamp than they did.)  Back then, most TV shows were shot on zoom lenses and thus needed to get the set lighting to f/4 on average, and they mainly used tungsten lamps and gelled windows on location or let the color temp be mismatched.  There wasn't a lot of budget for arc lights on those shows, they were more likely to use reflectors outside and some FAY lights.

 

I'd try something like 200 ASA film stock for starters.

 

Another thing to keep in mind that unless that show was restored and retransferred recently, the original broadcasts were film chain transfers from 35mm low-con prints (sometimes even 16mm prints).  Pushing 200T stock by one-stop may help get you that somewhat harsher look, but adding contrast in the transfer would also work.

 

Most of this look is lighting... and hairstyles, sideburns, etc.


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#11 Joseph Konrad

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Posted 18 July 2013 - 10:17 PM

You could do that hard lighting style on faster stocks, you'd just get more of a stop (or be able to use a lower wattage lamp than they did.)  Back then, most TV shows were shot on zoom lenses and thus needed to get the set lighting to f/4 on average, and they mainly used tungsten lamps and gelled windows on location or let the color temp be mismatched.  There wasn't a lot of budget for arc lights on those shows, they were more likely to use reflectors outside and some FAY lights.

Thank you David; that's extremely helpful.  Seems that they were forced into the same corners as I will be, because of budget.

 

Agreed too that pushing and adding contrast during transfer could be important tools.  Maybe even doing the traditional process of negative, color-timed IP, release negative, and release print might give the final product that contrasty, dupy quality that comes with the extra generations.

 

Definitely need to make sure hair is long and clothes are a certain way, yes.  And the actors themselves need to have a certain core and behave a certain way....I'm trending towards midwesterners and southerners even though I am not one, because many of them have not been modernized the way the coasts have been and could easily pass for earlier generations.


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