Low Budget Filmmaking – You Can Do This…

Low Budget Filmmaking – You Can Do This…

The world is on fire.  Our world is on fire.  I feel paralyzed by it, we all do.  But as creative souls, we have to push through all this…stuff, and focus on the only thing we have any control over…our life and our art.

We all put roadblocks up for ourselves sometimes.  Let’s be frank with each other, shall we? There are always far more reasons to not do something, than to do something.  That said, let’s talk about those pesky “reasons” and debunk them a little.

1 – I don’t have the time.

Oh, this is a classic…an old friend to us all in fact, particularly me.

It’s true, there never seems to be enough time, especially when we are all trying to make a living and that often involves us doing non-creative jobs…yuk.  But we have to learn how to structure our time better.  How to make hours and days magically appear in our schedules for ourselves.  If you want to write, then block time in your day to write.  If you need to make a film, if it burns within you, then hire yourself, schedule your time better and get off Facebook. This is a bad excuse because you won’t have time to do anything when you are dead.

2 – I can’t afford it.

Another classic.  Of course you can’t afford it!! Most of us can’t, but absolutely all of us can’t afford not to. There’s nobody waiting outside your door right now with a fist full of money simply dying to fund you.  It’s your dream, your film, you can either save for years, which is totally one way to go, max out your credit cards, crowdfund – which is basically getting money from friends and family – or shoot what you can afford as you can afford it, or start with some money and hope it will all work out as you go.  If you can think of any other ways around the “I have no money” thing then please add to this list.  But what you cannot do is use that as an excuse to do nothing…pull yourself together…find some change in the couch and go and make a movie.

3 – I don’t know how.

This is worst excuse I think because no one knows anything when they first begin, and there are plenty of people who still don’t know anything and are making films all the time, some of which are actually in theatres.  There is so much information online, you don’t have to go to film school and you don’t need to be an expert.  What you need is a story that you just can’t shake and a stubborn streak.  Also sometimes knowing nothing can free you from all the white noise of “too much experience.”  Being authentic, naive, green and unencumbered by the baggage of overthinking can give you the energy, and you really need a lot of that, to make a film that’s real and unique and from your own specific perspective.  Ignorance can equal fearlessness…and you also need a lot of that too.  So don’t over think it and get on with it!

4 – What if it’s just not very good and no one likes it?

So what!  You can’t spend any energy on worrying if anyone will like it.  Do you think John Waters worried about that?  Or Quintin Tarantino or Sergio Leone or Francis Ford Coppola or Ava Duverny or Geta Gerwig?  Well, I’m pretty sure all of them probably have at one point or another, but the point is, if they did worry then they certainly didn’t let it stop them.  They made what they wanted because they just had to.  The self-doubt, the difficulties, the pain, it’s all a part of the process.  It all feeds the film, the story and in the end, it makes you crazy enough to make something wonderful.

5 – What if I start and I can’t finish? 

Well, that is always a possibility…always.  The sky could fall, the end could come, the camera could break, you could all get arrested, all get food poisoning, erase the hard drive, have a huge row with the lead actor halfway through filming and have to start again. Am I getting too specific?  Obviously, things can go wrong, but mostly they don’t.  In my experience, even if something happens at some point, it’s never irreparable, never something you can’t overcome and sometimes it actually makes a better film.  It rains and the streets look like a million dollars, you lose an actor and suddenly the story makes more sense without them.  Someone gets shot nearby and the dozens of police cars roaring past you elevate your production value through the roof.  Just a few of the things that have happened to me and every film has been the better for it.  The universe can and does work in very mysterious ways.

So hopefully I have slaughtered a few excuses, purged a few reasons that have been piling up.  I think it worked pretty well for me anyway!!

Filmmakers are magical storytellers.  We can make something that will remain far longer than we ever could.  Films are the histories of our own minds, they are moving poetry,  they inform, give joy, comfort, pause for thought and through them we create memories together.  Memories of making them and watching them and even disagreeing about them.  They connect us, unite us in feeling and thought.  They are important, vital even.  Having the ability or the sheer nerve to make them is a gift from the gods…truly.  I feel so lucky to have been able to make films in my life.  No matter if I ever make any money from them, that was never the point for me.  I just loved the process, the journey, the ride…and the company.

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros
Author: Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros

Samantha Simmonds-Ronceros is a Theatre and Food Writer and Filmmaker living in Los Angeles.