Unless you got yourself, a nifty directing gig from a high-end video production company, chances are, you’re probably making films with a limited budget. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Believe it or not, there are some people who have managed to create blockbuster films with limited budgets on their belt.
One of these film producers is Jason Blum. Known for films like Whiplash, Get Out and Paranormal Activity, he’s been making a consistent killing at the box office by creating films that are considerably cheaper compared to other Hollywood Blockbusters.
Here are 5 rules he keeps in mind when producing films on a lean budget.
1. Always Stay on a Single Niche
Let’s face it, of the many films that Blum and his company produces, it’s usually his horror films that get the most bang for his buck. It’s rare for his team to take on a non-horror or sci-fi movie. And since he places a cap of $5 million in his budget most of the time, he gets huge returns in the end even if he doesn’t do a theatrical release of the film.
2. Less is More – No Fancy or Expensive Shots At All
When you’re tight on a budget, you want to limit the number of expenses as well. This means hardcore action scenes with amazing special effects are non-existent. Car chases are kept small, no huge buildings on fire, etc. As for Blum, he doesn’t like creating VFX scenes because they cost too much. Of course, having action-packed sequences doesn’t always mean using CGI. Get creative and figure out ways where you can create a great budget-friendly scene.
3. Use as Few Shooting Locations as You Can
The more shooting locations you have, the more money you need to spend. It’s important to understand not to carry the mindset of creating a low budget film but instead find a film you want or like and figure out a way to do it on a budget without sacrificing the content. Swapping scenes or locations that could cost a lot and transforming it into something manageable (cheaper location or set pieces) is recommended.
4. Think of the Speaking Lines and Dialogue
It’s important to know union rates will vary (including the production costs) depending on when you’re shooting speaking or non-speaking roles from your actors. This doesn’t mean you have to create a minimalist film but you should think about the number of dialogue or lines you have in relation to your budget.
5. Keep a Strict Eye on Your Production Budget
Going off-budget happens when you aren’t careful about where you’re spending your production money. Blum usually insists directors get creative and figure out ways to stick to the budget while shooting even expensive scenes. This does two things, one, you get a chance to make your producer happy, and two, you can have extra money for when issues come up – which can easily happen in any production.
In the end, creating films on a budget is possible. Don’t discount the fact that your budget is tiny or use it as an excuse to not make your film. Stick to these rules while at the same getting creative with your production. Others have done it, so can you.