How to make a Professional Short Film for $80 (Part II - Production)

Picture of How to make a Professional Short Film for $80 (Part II - Production)
Okay, if you haven't already seen the prequel to this instructable then go here: http://www.instructables.com/id/How_to_make_a_Professional_Short_Film_for_80_Par/

With that out of the way, welcome to part II of how to make a "professional" short film for $80. We will be discussing the production process.

So you have your cast, equipment, location, and script. Notice I neglected to say crew. Well, for $80 we won't be hiring any big name cinematographers so congratulations on your new title you Producer-Director-Screenwriter-Location Scout-Technical Director-Casting Director-Cinematographer-Cameraman-Gaffer-Best Boy-etc multi-talented prodigy you. Even though your talents are prodigious in nature, you may want to bring a friend or two along as well - extra hands never hurt.

We will discuss lighting, cinematography, basic camera settings, basic directing, some audio tips, and whatever else pops into my head as pertinent in this section. Did I miss your favorite part? Shoot me a comment and I will amend this instructable as soon as I can.

Quick disclaimer - If you get arrested, injured or in anyway dead-ified (it is now a word) don't sue me - it's your fault. Apologies to various websites from whom I liberated pictures from and Keanu Reeves.

Let's get started.

If you haven't seen my $80 "professional" short then check out the trailer HERE and the full film HERE.
When will you be coming out with the part III of this ible? I am trying to make a youtube video series and would like to see the post production stuff as well!! I am anticipating it excitingly!!!
~Zero3 years ago
I think what your trying to say here is: Let you actor act as normal as possible. Don't try to stress (Or. . . . Over stress) the importance of the act. Acting isn't exactly doing things different. Acting is doing things normal on stage, camera, etc. Your saying: A good way to get your actor to act, be as descriptive as possible! Instead of saying things like: Sneak across the room, say things like: I need you to get by this guy, but I don't want him to notice you. Can you just sneak through there as quietly as possible?

It's especially best for those friends who like to screw things up a lot.

"The key for audio is to get as close as possible and record it as loud as possible."

Actually, not entirely true. there is a limit to how high you want it. in this crappy diagram:


You want the audio to average at the end of this sentence!

other than that, great i'ble! Hope this helps!
blckthng5 years ago
Amazing Film....but am I the only one waiting for the part on post production?
(Part III that is.)

If anyone needs a crane shot for their films, read this, it is extremely helpful...

Keep it up.
Part III anytime soon?
Awesome movie True u look kinda like vin diesel (well think it was u lol) i was like Get on the train Now now now Lol Make another !!!
A good name6 years ago
Dude... that movie was awesome... I think that the acting could use a small amount of work, though I got to admit, it was damn good... Anyways, you had BETTER get into movies... I'm getting sick of all the new remakes that they're doing...
Richiepoo6 years ago
Great instructable!
Loved it. And thanks for the mic links, me and my drama class are actually working on a documentary (about the drama class, appropriately), and we've been searching high and low for good mics on the cheap. We don't get much funding from the school. So anyway, thanks.
Looking forward to part 3 :)
Once again, fantastic job!
Nice job hermes, a few things that should help one low budget film making (did plenty myself, including a whole three minute backstage film which was continuous shot around a school, which limited us to handheld. First of all tie a string to the camera, hold the camera up at the right height you need and tie the other end to a belt loop or your belt, this seems weird but it basically steals the principle from the string tripod, it's not hard to do and when still will give you a very steady shot in comparison, it also makes handheld panning much smoother.

For low budget lighting I've always had a lot of luck with sunlight bulbs, their wider spectrum and sunlight colour temps makes them great for photography and cinematic work.

Though dubbing never goes perfectly you can record the audio separately using a voice recorder or external mic MP3 recorder, if you record the sound and the scene well at the same time lining up is easy, one trick is to slap a wall or desk in the scene while recording as a reference. I learnt these things after doing the school play DVD, we stole all the mic input from the actors mics and used a set of three cameras to put it all together. However if you try dubbing afterwards then it's very hard to get the actors to say it the same again.

As far as a tripod goes it's always a necessity in the end, even if it's homebuilt it's important, granted one of our most interesting productions was an hour of messing about, around five minutes of video around the school, mini tripod between my legs while I was on a computer chair, following the actors around.

I liked your bit about directing, many amateur films fall down because people are either very silly or do something almost parodying what you told them to.

One last thing is that it's always easier to darker in editing and will look better but don't over blow the image with light, interestingly digital darkness is easily retrieved even if rougher but washing out to white is irreparable.

Nice job again, I'm looking forward to the rest of the series...