Today, I would like to talk about the holy grail of Film Making, The Feature Film.
Some of you may feel like the Feature Film Production is an impossible task, only for the lucky determined few who can navigate the funding bodies and Distributors. Today, I would like to talk about the possibility of making your feature film as soon as you can.
Of course, one should always learn film making via making short films first. The reason for this is that it is an inexpensive way to learn from your mistakes and gain the valuable experience to make an idependent feature film when you have the experience of making successful short films.
However, when you are ready to make a feature film, it can seem like an impossible task. I would like to talk about the Weekend Feature Film. Many film makers have used this approach in the past. The reason is that it is a very inexpensive way to make a long format film.
In 2007, we decided to take that approach and make a feature film on the weekend with no budget raised. Instead, we cash flowed the film as we made it. We made this a very enjoyable challenge.
Over 14 months, we shot our 95 minute feature film, “The Makeover”. It took ten weekends with an average of three shooting days per shooting weekend. Therefore, we shot on thirty days over 14 months which was the equivalent of 30 Shooting Days or a six week shoot on a normal feature film. This shooting schedule is adequate to make a professional feature film. We started at Easter, 2007, and completed it in May, 2008.
I did not complete post production till mid 2009 and then hit the festival circuit and promoted the film. It was tremendous fun and in the end we had a saleable product. However, the best part was the cost.
Each three day weekend Shoot cost, on average, $3000 which was saved and cash flowed on every weekend. The total shoot cost was $30,000 spread over 14 months. Most Indie feature films have budgets ranging from $1million – $20 million. The Australian feature film, “The Sapphires”, cost $10million. So how would you like to shoot a film for $30,000?
Yes, one has to be clever and get most locations for a contra promotion and for Zero cost. We owned our own film equipment to the value of $20,000. All our crew were co- owners of the film and therefore contributed their time and effort to the film they part-owned. Yes, one had to be clever and determined. However, money was not the barrier.
The point is that it is far better to be making a film than talking about it. One can make a micro budget feature on the weekend while raising a budget for the $1 million dollar film and have two projects on the go.
Once again, I must add that we shot “The Makeover” for $30,000. However, Post Production did cost a considerable amount after the shoot and had to be cash-flowed.
- I edited the film myself (Free)
- I paid my composer $5,000
- I paid my Sound Post person $5,000
- Colouring cost $5,000
- Final Post and Deliverables were $10,000
Yes, the above five elements cost another $25,000.
Now let’ s mention the promotion and sales over two years.
- Film Marketing Materials cost $5,000
- Film Festival Entries were $7,000
- Film Markets and Promotions cost $25,000
This totals another $37,000. Other expenses relating to the film included Censor Rating and other issues to the value of $15,000.
The Total Budget in the end was $103,000 cash flowed over four years.
This is still very inexpensive. If I was to make the film again on the weekends I could do this slightly cheaper, knowing what I know now. But not by much. Here is what I estimate it would cost now if one owns their own film equipment.
1. Shoot $30,000
2. Post $30,000
3. Marketing and Promotions $30,000
How did “The Makeover” fare in the world market?
Film Festival Screenings
1. Cannes Independent Film Festival 2010
2. New York Film Festival Best Comedy Drama 2010
3. Screening American Film Market, Los Angeles 2010
- Australia: DVD Release in Australia and New Zealand in all DVD Blockbusters and shops
- Europe: Pay TV
- America: Pay Per View Cable
- ITUNES Movie Release 2011 US only
- VOD available on many different VOD Platforms
In my opinion, this is not that bad for a film that was shot on $30,000. In 2007, one had to shoot on the most basic of cameras, if one was shooting on a low budget.
Today, one could shoot their film on a Cannon C300 or if one can on the Red Epic or Scarlet and shoot a film that looks like a big budget film. If you want to learn how to shoot a your film professionally and make a film for a very low budget, please enrol on the 4 Month Film School.
In any case, I am looking forward to shooting my next film “Absolute Freedom” on close to a million dollars in the outback with the Red Camera. Please follow the adventure via this blog.
If you made it this far, please watch the trailer for “The Makeover”.
“The Makeover Trailers – 100 minutes Feature Film
The Makeover won Best Comedy Drama at the New York Downtown Film Festival. The film was also sold to Pay TV in Europe and has come a viral success on the net.