1. Rent a DVD of a film about making a film… Like Bowfinger or Be Kind Rewind. Make elaborate notes on things you can do to cut costs and cheat your neighbourhood as a backdrop for your film.
2. Search the internet for free royalty-free stock footage. Make sure they are at least high definition quality and do not come with watermarks. Sort out similar footage and save the shots folder-wise. Sample: New York road traffic, street traffic, highway traffic, aerial shots etc.
3. Now, find a conflict (For example: Boy needs to go all around town to find a rare book to woo the girl he loves) that requires all these shots and things you can use from your neighbourhood (as learnt from Bowfinger/Be Kind Rewind). Films are just not about conflict (story) but how the conflict plays out (storytelling). So convert this story you’ve written into scenes, each scene broken down into one line. Sample: 1. Boy lives in this neighbourhood. 2. Girl lives next door. 3. Boy bumps into girl. Once you’ve written down the story, tighten to see what all can be established in one line or one moment. Sample: 1. Boy rushes out of home in a tearing hurry and runs into the girl carrying books and accidentally knocks a book down into the gutter. Each line should be one scene. And each scene is a moment captured at a specific time and space. Ideally, don’t write scenes longer than a minute.
4. Now that you have a script, write down the dialogues or let the actors you’ve cast for the role work on them and rehearse together as you sort out a schedule to shoot scenes set in the same location the same day or consecutive days. Borrow a camera that can shoot Hi Definition and make sure have a cinematographer who knows to exploit natural light and find ways to keep the camera microphone as close to the people speaking dialogue and without the mic being caught on camera.
5. Each scene is divided into shots depending on the drama you want to extract out of the moment. Keep your frame wide to establish, medium to document and close to get into the intimate detail. Make an assistant log each take (make sure you have multiple takes of each shot) and let your assistant know which of the takes is Good so that your editor using iMovie or any editing software can just assemble all the Good takes in the order of your script and fine-cut it depending on the merit of all that you’ve shot. Use royalty-free music from the internet for your background score or get your neighbourhood band to give you music they’ve done.
(The author is an independent filmmaker who is yet to make money from no-budget films. This column originally appeared here.)