AFTERGLOW, our teaser for the Blackmagic Cinema Camera. Shot with a guerrilla crew in a few hours. Colour corrected in Resolve. Cinematography by the incredible John ‘JB’ Brawley. Featuring the stunning Casey Burgess and multi-talented kingpin, Jim Medcraft. Directed by me. The shoot was a fantastic opportunity to test the camera for an indie project JB and I are collaborating on. We had a blast! Read about the shoot at JB’s blog.
Category Archives: Low Budget
Some incredible gadgets and software solutions were demonstrated at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) last week. There seems to be a trend towards DIY filmmaking on iPhones. Wannbe Steven Spielbergs can now do so much on a humble mobile/cell phone!
Be your own camera operator with a Swivl:
Be your own aerial camera operator with a Parrot AR.Drone 2.0:
Be your own stunt cameraman with a Throwable Panoramic Ball Camera:
Or utilise some artificial intelligence with the automated editing app, Magisto:
Luci Temple has insightfully dissected the financing strategy for an Australian crowd funded feature film, The Tunnel. There’s two parts to the article – Part 1 and Part 2. Read both. Notice the trend. Everyone seems to raise $10-15K from supportive family and friends. And then the money seems to dry up. I was a big fan of the concept of crowd funding. However, I’m increasingly thinking that the incredible amount of time that it takes (at the sacrifice of ‘creative time’) might be better spent convincing wealthier financiers (eg West Australian mining magnates ) to invest in your project. Nonetheless I hope The Tunnel raises its entire budget and it’s creatively successful. After all, it’s a challenge in this current filmmaking climate. Good luck to them and congrats to Luci on her analysis.
Filmmaker – Joe Carnahan (Writer/ Director/ Producer/ Editor/ Actor)
Age at completion of film – 28
Country – USA
Budget – US$7,300 (plus finishing funds from IFC backed Next Wave Films for a blow up to 35mm and sound remix)
Shoot duration – 19 days
Format – Super 16mm
- Much of the equipment used for the film came from the TV station where Carnahan was employed
- Several of the crew also starred in the film including producers Ken Rudulph and Kevin Hale. Mitchell Wayne Richter is played by Matt Carnahan, the younger brother of writer and director Joe Carnahan. Other relatives in the film include Leah Carnahan and Chuck Leis
- “Thirty-hour” straight edit at the editing console of the same TV station
- Sundance Film Festival (1998), New York’s Independent Feature Film Market (1997)
- Sold to Lion’s Gate Films
- Led to… Narc, Smokin’ Aces and The A-Team
Rotten Tomatoes (ie. aggregated critic reviews) – 48%
Another profile on a low budget film that has inspired us to make The Hitman’s Cookbook. We also hope these movies inspire you to make your debut (or next!) feature film. Watch them if you haven’t already.
The next cab off the rank is…
Film – George Washington (2000)
Filmmaker – David Gordon Green (Writer/ Director/ Producer)
Age at completion of film – 25
Country – USA
Budget – US$42,000 (an additional $60,000 was spent in post)
Shoot duration – 19 days
Format – 35mm
- Tim Orr’s stunning ‘magic hour’ cinematography. If you like the films of Terrence Malick…
- Two camera units at all times
- Richard Wright, the production designer, had a budget of $700
- Mainly non-actors
- Minimal dialogue
- Green borrowed all film equipment from the production of Dawson’s Creek (TV series) during a break in shooting
- Cast and crew lived in the same house during the shoot
- Cast and crew worked unpaid
- Berlin Film Festival (2000), Toronto Film Festival (2000)
Since – All the Real Girls, Undertow, Snow Angels, Pineapple Express, Eastbound and Down (TV series)
Rotten Tomatoes (ie. aggregated critic reviews) – 82%
Have you seen it? Did you like it?
Several contemporary writers and directors have inspired me to make my debut film, The Hitman’s Cookbook: Martin Scorsese, Michael Mann, Paul Thomas Anderson, Chan-wook Park, Danny Boyle, Michael Winterbottom, Quentin Tarantino, the Coen Brothers, David Fincher, Michael Haneke and David Cronenberg.
In relation to Low Budget Filmmaking, one director in particular has really motivated me – Cannes and Oscar winner, Steven Soderbergh. Some will instantly recognise his name. Others will recognise his films:
Out of Sight, Traffic, Erin Brockovich, Ocean’s Eleven (and Twelve and Thirteen), The Good German, Sex Lies and Videotape, Che, The Informant!, The Girlfriend Experience, etc.
Soderbergh completed Sex, Lies, and Videotape at the age of 26. Since then he’s directed approximately 30 films and TV episodes over 25 years. A workhorse! I also admire the diversity of films that fill his showreel. From low budget, personal stories to extravagant, ensemble adventures. Soderbergh continues to experiment with stories and technique, juggling independent films with studio fare. Sometimes he fails but most of the time he succeeds. He takes a chance and makes it happen. Less talkin’, more shootin’.
Which filmmakers inspire you?
I sometimes meet filmmakers who are resigned to not making their debut feature film because they can’t attract investment from government film funding agencies (eg. Screen Australia/NSW/Queensland/West, Film Victoria and SA Film Corp). I think all filmmakers (myself included) should ask themselves an important question:
If you don’t attract government funding, will you press ahead and make your film anyway?
If the answer is ‘no’, we should question whether we really want to make the film. This question has clarified my motivations. Yes, I want to make The Hitman’s Cookbook, even if we can’t attract government financing. Make the film – rain, hail or shine!
Recently we’ve been watching two types of films as inspiration for the production of The Hitman’s Cookbook:
- Films that are similar in genre, style and tone to our film; and
- Successful low budget films
How low budget? There’s low budget and then there’s…
Film – Primer (2004)
Filmmaker – Shane Carruth (Writer/ Director/ Producer)
Age at completion of film – 31
Country – USA
Budget – US$7,000
Shoot duration – 5 weeks
Format – Super 16mm
- Five crew members
- Shane Carruth was the writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, and music composer.He also stars in the film as the main protagonist
- Shooting ratio of 2:1
- Every shot in the film was storyboarded on 35mm stills
- Grand Jury Winner – Sundance (2004)
I know the story behind Primer sounds familiar. El Mariachi anyone?
And, as we all know, El Mariachi probably cost a lot more than $7K. Something in the range of $200-300K+ after post-production expenses were factored in.
But don’t worry about those details. That’s not the point. Primer and El Mariachi are inspirational for aspiring filmmakers because Shane Carruth and Robert Rodriguez made it happen. They weren’t prepared to wait for someone to hand them a bag of money. They made their films with the limited resources available to them, raising the money any way they could.
Rotten Tomatoes (ie. aggregated critic reviews) – 72%