Micro-budget films are not new in the movie production industry. They are especially common with beginner screenwriters. These movies have a budget that ranges from $7000 to $150000. This might still seem expensive but the truth is that in film production this is not much.
It is still very possible to produce a good quality film on a budget. Remember, micro-budget does not mean no-budget productions that you can handle with friends or family but there are professionals involved and maybe a few investors too. These films are not low-quality films.
If you are planning to write a micro-budget screenplay, whether for your own production or you have been contracted by a low tier production company to do so, you need to know exactly how to write a good script on a budget. In case you want some writing assistance as well, you may get it from CopyCrafter.
Here are some few tips that will guide you:
1. Write With The Producers Mentality
Whether this is your production or not, have in mind that the expenses will depend on what you write. Know the exact budget and work around it. When you write with the producer in mind you will always be aware of the cost of production. This, therefore, means that you will not go overboard with your scenes and characters too.
Character Development And Extras
When writing, do not work with the high-end actors in mind. You do not want to end up with a cheap lookalike just because you could not afford the actor you had in mind. Write with a totally new principle character in mind this will also give the casting director an easy time when trying to find the right cast on a minimal budget. If you can, totally do away with extras. Avoid scenes that are crowd-related like night clubs, schools, and such like.
Limit The Locations
This does not mean that you have a claustrophobic script. You can still have a number of locations but the trick here is to work with locations that you can access for free. Here, creativity will come in handy because you can use one apartment and work on it to appear like different locations. If one of the production members have an apartment that you can use then consider it because it will be free and that means saving some money. Totally avoid scenes that require professional locations ICU’s. Limiting locations will also give the producers an easy time when shooting because the movement is limited too.
Write What You Have
Robert Rodriguez has literally written a book on this. Do not let your ego or pride get the best of you especially when writing a low-budget screenplay. Take advantage of what you have and what you can use for free from your friends or family. For example, if your parents own a bowling alley, bakery or restaurant, use them. When it comes to wardrobe and props and maybe your mum works with the Salvation Army, find out how you can use their donations. In film everything costs money, so take advantage of the free stuff as much as possible.
Make The Page Count Below 100
When it comes to producing a movie every page costs money to shoot. This is why when writing a micro-budget screenplay try to limit the pages as much as you can. Work with a maximum of 100 pages. Right your vision as you see it. Limit dialogue where possible, trim every action line and scene. Picture this, for example, if in a day you spend $2500 for 8 pages if the entire script is 101 pages and you limit it to about 85 pages you will be saving $5000. How about that.
Avoid Exterior Night Shots
Night shots are expensive because of the extra lighting needed, crowd control, and sound troubles. There is nothing like high-quality cheap lighting. Good lighting is very expensive and when it comes to night shots you definitely need to have some good lighting. Nights are quite noisy with barking dogs, hooting cars, noisy kids, and a lot more and you will have lots of sound issues with your film. Do not include night scenes on a budget.
Remember to have fun as you write, micro-budget screenwriting is a chance for you to be as creative as you can.