A warrior huntress strives to fulfill an ancient prophecy and struggles against an evil barbarian who stops at nothing to destroy her tribe and gain immortality.
Hollywood Independent Style: How to produce a lot with a little
Our professor once questioned, “Is it possible to have creativity without constraint?” It dawned on me that in order to come up with a relevant response, the question itself limited my answer.
In the development, production, and post production phases of directing my first feature-length film, the following three limitations have come into play time and time again:
1. Budget (Money)
On any production, your budget plays a pivotal role in the final look of your video or film. For an independent film like Neshima (neh-SHE-muh), we started with only the money in my pocket. In the development of any film or video, the first stage always boils down to “aiming for the stars” along with a certain amount of trial-and-error, to see how you can get to the Moon from there.
But the fact remains, you’ve got to put money in to get money out. Take building a house for example; you can’t build a two-story house with only a dime! Building a house requires laying a solid foundation so the house won’t sink when everything’s finished, and that costs money of course. Similarly, if you want 84 minutes of engaging content, don’t expect to do it on a budget of $10,000 or less. Today’s audiences and consumers have exceedingly high expectations when they encounter multimedia content; your video or film must have production value at a level that your audience can digest without scrutiny.
In developing a feature film your budget needs to be adequately prepared ahead of time to allow for post-production and 3D FX (the facade) along with securing terabytes of hard drive space (the foundation) for the production.
Today’s audiences and consumers have exceedingly high expectations when they encounter multimedia content; your video or film must have production value at a level that your audience can digest without scrutiny..
Budget creativity is paramount for successful returns in the short-term as well as the long-term. I evaluated the costs of every facet of our production—from subcontractor’s rates, down to how we can re-purpose sets rather than building new ones—to ensure the efficacy of the budget we had.
Successful businesses recognize time as one of their most valuable assets. Momentum can give you the final push to gain traction but it also has the power to take you down after years of stagnation. The velocity of a professional project depends on budget and integrity. Can you delegate through hiring and can you complete tasks within your deadlines? Neshima has been a constant juggling between limited budget and time.
For principle photography (the filming part), we opted to shoot on weekends for three months. This allowed the cast and crew to keep their day jobs and it also allowed us to save on room & board costs. This solution also opened the door to 16-hour work days with time to recover between weekends, so we were always operating at peak efficiency with the time we had.
Experienced professionals “measure twice, cut once” and the job is then complete. However, experience comes at a price and you need to decide how much is needed and what can be afforded. On the film, our entire cast was “unknown”, which would seem to indicate a lack of experience. But I combed through close to 2,000 talented actors to find the fifteen that fit the roles. When you find unknown talent that already matches the personality of the character in your story, you don’t need to go with the most expensive, most experienced actor.
What this cost us in time, we made back by saving money with having lowered the cost for talent! And let’s face it: you’re not going to get Dustin Hoffman to star in your video every time you post a product update or holiday video card.
Video Production is Independent Film Making
Though a lot of corporations I work for have relatively healthy marketing budgets, I like to treat each video production the way I treat an independent film production: I use creativity through the constraints of budget, time, and experience to produce compelling, engaging video content.