The Microbudget Conversation

We're Only Talking a Few Thousand Dollars by John Yost

  • The Microbudget Conversation: Unpaid Crew Vs. Under-Paid Crew

    In our last post Anna Rebek briefly touched on one very important aspect of sacrifice when it comes to making microbudget films…crew. I think we often have to get past the feeling of incredible guilt in pre-production when asking friends and family to come along on yet another microbudget adventure. However, we learn to compensate with understanding, attention and compassion, making micro budget a unique testing ground for new methods. No matter what happens after these films are made, we are left with lessons that some big-budget filmmakers have never had to learn. Perhaps instead of wondering when to give…  Read more

    On Sep 13, 2011
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  • On the set of LaSierva - photo Sean Cruser The Microbudget Conversation: The Art Behind Sacrifice

    Picking up right where we left off; Anna Rebek says nuts to embracing limitations; start sacrificing everything to make all the details important.   One great thing about being micro is that no one but ourselves are breathing down our own necks, asking for results, and pushing the timeline. You often have as much time as you allow to problem-solve any limitations that you give yourself, so why would you cut corners and allow your film to be anything but what you realized at the script stage? Perhaps the best time to know how far you can push it is…  Read more

    On Sep 1, 2011
    By on Sep 1, 2011Columns
  • The Microbudget Conversation: The No-Budget Way

    I am overwhelmed and excited by the response from our last post…this truly is the conversation in action, and the reason I wanted to start this column. We also just got the word that our panel for SXSW is up on their site and ready to vote for. If you want to see us bring the conversation to SXSW then vote here! Many thanks in advance! In keeping with the idea of necessity and budget constraints from Nicole’s piece, I present to you with Mark Stolaroff. Mark is the fella behind the No-Budget Film School in L.A. and he’s here…  Read more

    On Aug 16, 2011
    By on Aug 16, 2011Columns
  • The Microbudget Conversation: Script vs. Story

    I have come across many folks who have allowed the completion of a perfect script to derail their entire production. I have also sat through (I’m including my own films here) more films that I can remember in which the filmmakers hoped improv will create something magical. In microbudget the latter is a necessity, in large indie films, it’s risky, and in Hollywood, no one but a select few can pull it off. I recently started a conversation with an Austin filmmaker in the very thick of making her second feature film, What’s the Use (pictured below), and this battle…  Read more

    On Aug 3, 2011
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  • The Microbudget Conversation: What Is Regionalism?

    Last summer, at about the same time I was shooting Orphaned, Columbia Pictures was shooting second-unit/chase scenes for Salt here in Albany, NY. Apparently we have a really dope set of off-ramps and bridges that made it necessary to shoot one scene in Upstate New York. They brought in all their own people and all their own gear. Many of the actors that worked on Orphaned got day-play extra roles and stand-in gigs, and downtown was a mess for a week. The film community of Albany was pissed and ecstatic all at the same time, and the experience acted as…  Read more

    On Jul 19, 2011
    By on Jul 19, 2011Columns
  • The Microbudget Conversation: Social Change

    In keeping with a bit of our theme from last week we tackle the subject of using our films to make a larger audience aware of a subject or group, and in turn gain a network of people we would have never come in contact with. If crowdsourcing is a way to gain a new following and engage an audience in the filmmaking process, then social change can do the same thing, but also give back to a community or group in more ways than just one narrative film can. It can also serve to engage a larger network in…  Read more

    On Jul 5, 2011
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  • The Microbudget Conversation: Crowdsource… Not Outsource

    I first met Jesse Borkowski back at RIT in 2002, and we became fast friends. His interest in experimental filmmaking mirrored my own, and soon we were the dynamic duo of cinematographer and assistant on over ten short films. Our verbal short hand and similar visual language made it easy for us to work together, but it wasn’t until now that we’ve collaborated on a project as co-directors; It was bound to happen. The film I’m referring to is Engram. This “epic” micro budget is an experiment in many things, one of those things being crowdsourcing. My last few attempts…  Read more

    On Jun 28, 2011
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  • The Microbudget Conversation: Perspective

    So last week we presented one type of manifesto knowing full well it’s almost impossible to define what this all is. The feedback was wonderful and I want to take a moment before I present the next two manifesto perspectives to comment. I think some people are completely right about the fact that sometimes the point of micro-budget is to NOT be part of a group. However, as humans, we group ourselves, and others, together so that we can quickly categorize and compartmentalize the world around us. Which is the very reason I started thinking about a rule book. Groups…  Read more

    On Jun 22, 2011
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  • The Microbudget Conversation: Call To Arms

    Our last few posts have really sparked a great conversation and it seems to be one of definition. Not just of micro’s structure, but definition of our stance on art vs. commerce, and our perspective of micro’s purpose. A while back I made a half-joke on this column that someone should write a manifesto for micro-budget filmmakers. The more I thought about what it would contain, the more I realized I was writing one of my own. I immediately contacted one of our column alums Jamie Heinrich. Jamie is in the process of financing and shooting his next feature via…  Read more

    On Jun 15, 2011
    By on Jun 15, 2011Columns
  • The Microbudget Conversation: A Filmmaking Tool

    After our last post the response was overwhelming in regards to what micro is, if it’s important, and where it’s headed. In the spirit of conversation I worked with Todd Looby (pictured below) on a post almost exactly the opposite of Scott’s. Todd sees micro-budget filmmaking as a skill, a tool, and somewhat of a stepping-stone. Our conversation wouldn’t be a conversation without this point of view.   To me, microfilmmaking is not an end that anyone in his or her right mind should be pursuing. Of course, as people interested in filmmaking, we are not necessarily right in the…  Read more

    On Jun 7, 2011
    By on Jun 7, 2011Columns
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