National Film Festival for Talented Youth | Seattle Youth Film Festival | Student Film Festival

Low Budget Filmmaking

Talk shop: Low-Budget filmmaking

Tips & Resources, Video

Written by Joseph Weiler, NFFTY Intern

Let’s face it, filmmaking is an expensive endeavor, there isn’t really many ways around it unless you know a lot of people with a lot of equipment they’ll lend you for cheap or free.  Being a young filmmaker doesn’t help either, a lot of times we’re working on a fairly tight budget.  One thing that has really changed the game, especially for the younger generation of filmmakers is the introduction of the DSLR to modern cinema.  One of the many great things about the DSLRs is their ability to have so many interchangeable lenses.  That way if you have friends with similar cameras it is easy to swap and borrow lenses from one another without having to be responsible for the whole camera.  This opens up a world of possibilities.  Even just having a few, each for different purposes, can make filmmaking incredibly easier.  Stuck shooting in a tiny room? Throw on a wide-angle lens to open up the shot making it easier to fit everything in the frame.

Owning a DSLR myself, I use a Canon t3i, I love the versatility of it being able to borrow lenses from friends when I need specific shots or simply want to broaden my familiarity with various lenses.  DSLR’s also have features like the ability to shoot at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second.  24 gives us that look similar to shooting with film that so many of us love, 30 is more of a standard fps rate for modern digital filmmaking and 60 allows for crisper slower speed shots.

One of the great things about filmmaking is the ability to have a variety of shots, using the visuals to convey just as much of the story as the dialogue.  From close-ups and medium shots, to pans and dolly shots, there are so many options. However, when working on a budget it is sometimes harder to get these more professional looking shots, limiting the options.  There is a solution though; another great tool for budget filmmaking is indiSystem.  They are a resource for all sorts of camera rigs and other tools.  On the home page of their website it says, “Welcome to indiSYSTEM, where camera gear doesn’t cost more than the camera.” The equipment they offer is not only affordable but also easy to use, allowing for everyone to achieve their full potential.

An incredible tool they offer is their indigo-JIB, a jib that has an 8’ height reach that folds down to 42” with the ability to support up to ten pounds of camera equipment.  What is a jib though? A jib is a boom device with a camera on one end and a counterweight on the other, operating similar to a seesaw.  They are usually mounted on tripods for support and are used for getting high shots, or shots that need to move a great distance horizontally or vertically.  Using a resource like this could definitely push your film to the next level.
Here’s a product demo for the indigo-JIB:

There are a multitude of options for youth filmmakers or filmmakers simply trying to film without emptying their pockets.  The whole perspective on filmmaking is changing now, allowing for greater availability of professional style equipment leaving the wide variety of shots not just to the professionals.  Where do you think this will take the future of filmmaking?


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