Low Budget Filmmaking on an iPhone

Making a Low Budget Film Happen

If you have followed the steps in the blog series, you have probably decided filmmaking is your path, learnt the ins and outs of filmmaking, made short films, taken action towards your goals, worked on others’ sets, built connections, written a script and raised enough money from your friends and family. You are now ready to make your low budget film happen.

This is an excerpt from my book The Indian Indie Film (or Make Your Film for rest of the world). It was written from the experience of making my debut feature film on an iPhone for ₹5 lakhs ($7,000). Now available as an eBook on Amazon.


Preproduction

The most important phase of making a film with a low budget is not the production, but the preproduction. It is going to affect everything about your film. The planning, budgeting and its execution can determine if you will end up with a completed film or one that you are still waiting for funds to complete.

For more information on how to budget a low budget film, listen to this podcast.

You absolutely need to complete the following:

  • Script
  • Breakdown of the script to the minutest detail
  • Shot division or storyboard
  • Locations
  • Gear
  • Props and costumes if any

I talk in detail about all these in this article and this.

Production

With a limited budget you are of course not going to be shooting for months and months; unless it’s a film you are doing on the weekends. The exact number will depend on the script. Generally 12 to 21 days shoot is a sweet spot. You will have to take breaks in between as everyone would be doing multiple roles.

“Remember, a finished product is better than no product.”

We shot our low budget debut film, Munnariv, on an iPhone SE with the suite of FiLMiC apps and other gear. You can find the exact gear information in the following Instagram post.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtiZxrLBV95/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

We either used locations we already had access to, or we secured them for free. I had rewritten the script to let us shoot a major chunk of the film in my bedroom and places at a walkable distance from my house. All the actors used their own costumes. We had our maid cook delicious food (the most important aspect to keep morale up in a low budget production). For more information on how to execute a no budget production, listen to this podcast.

Postproduction

This was one phase where I was scared if I would drop the ball. Therefore I had put aside enough money to get us through, right from preproduction.

To be locked:

  • Picture
  • Music
  • Sound
  • Color

One of the actors in the movie had worked earlier as an editor. He edited the whole movie. A friend who was supposed to do the music skipped on us at the last minute. Finally we got our music from Artlist and Filmstro. Few of the connections I had made earlier helped us with the dubbing and sound mixing, while I color corrected the film, in my house again.

We made Munnariv, a thrilling 80 minute feature film, in my house with my actor and technician friends for ₹500,000. If we can do it, so can you.

Low budget filmmaking is a vast topic and we have barely scratched the surface. Our workshop dives in deeper. We hope this article gives you a framework to plan and execute your debut low budget film.


Hey Aspiring Filmmaker,

I debuted my film career making a feature film for ₹5 lakhs ($7,000) on an iPhone. I’d like to help you do the same. So I wrote everything I learned into a book. It is now available on Amazon, called The Indian Indie Film (or Make Your Film for rest of the world). Enjoy!

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