Monday, 14 December 2009

Hollywood Babble On & On #414: Making The Most Out Of Very Little

Welcome to the show folks...

The other day I wrote a few bits of advice for Paramount Pictures and their new "microbudget" initiative where young filmmakers would be given $100,000 each to make a movie. Well, in the intervening time I've done some drinking thinking and I've come up with another tidbit of wisdom I'd like to share with Paramount to make the whole thing run a little smoother.

Think of as a formula the new filmmakers could use when making their films.


Big budgets can buy you fancy s
pecial effects, big sets, and famous stars, but those things can be worked around on the cheap. What money best buys a filmmaker is time. The time to rehearse, the time to get those extra takes, the time to perfect the edit, etc., etc...

When these filmmakers are recruited Paramount should put these wannabe directors and producers through a sort of boot camp teaching them how to maximize their time management. And key to that sort of management is preparation. Preparation for this sort of micro-budget project is essential, because without it, time and money is wasted.

Being a director is more than just knowing where to put the camera, and how to get an actor to hit their marks and say their lines believably, a director must do all this, and hundred other jobs efficiently. Doing this job efficiently means making the most of the time and resources available, and being prepared for any contingency is key. That preparation must begin during the writing of the script, where the filmmakers must tailor their stories to match the resources they have. Then they must pre-plan what they need for every scene, every shot, and every frame. All questions about production must be answered before filming begins, because unanswered questions cost time and time costs money. Once these questions have been answered, then filming can begin with a modest comfort zone of time and money to play with.

Some think that guerrilla film-making is all improvisation, and while it can embrace the improvised, successful guerrillas, in war and movies, plan ahead, marshal their resources, and uses them to the maximum while wasting neither a penny or a second. Plus, these are excellent habits to have when moving onto bigger projects, because a reputation for fiscal responsibility and prudence can help take a filmmaker places their talent alone can't take them.


  1. Being in the MI national guard and working in film. I have to say there is not much difference than military operation and a film production.

    Both have a hierarchical structure, the Army has enlisted and officer ranks that all have their own assigned purposes and tasks. A set has the production office, a Military operation has a tactical operations center. Both serve the same purpose to organize and command the people in the field.

    Film Sets have a production manager a Army Company as a 1st Sgt. Who pretty much do the same thing.

    A military operation and a film shoot also need huge amounts of preparation and planning that have to be undertaken before the first shot (bullet or film).

    Even with the best prep work those plans can still go wrong both the army and film require someone in charge who can work under pressure and get the job done at all costs.

  2. Another note, biggest difference between a film set and a military operation. On a film set the food i usually better.

    There are things in AIT we were served that words cannot describe.

  3. There are things in AIT we were served that words cannot describe.

    I believe it was sfdebris that coined the phrase:

    "It would make a cockroach puke."

    Would that describe the food?