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Low Budget Pre-production Tips

written by: Andrea Smith•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/27/2011

Tips for making your low-budget film pre-production process smoother.

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    If money is in short supply, then you’ve lost the advantage of being able to wait until the last minute. Early planning is the most effective way to save money. You can cut costs by setting up deals months in advance.

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    Crew

    In this case go for the college kids, the underclassmen are inexperienced, but very eager, and dedicated. They have a great deal of potential and you could really take advantage of the great connections, and resources that film students have on hand. From time to time, you’ll have to step in and help them out with hard stuff, in which case you may want to go for more seasoned students.

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    Supplies

    Second hand will be your middle name on a low budget project, from cameras to lights. One thing you can’t skimp on is film, quality is everything and good film can set the tone for even the lowest of budgets. Most Goodwill stores will have all the props and wardrobe you need. In fact most low budget filmmakers find that having actors supply their own clothing will suffice just fine. Depending on the type of film you’re working on props will be the most difficult to find on a budget.

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    Actors and Extras

    Where would we be without the budding young starlets of tomorrow? Without a cast, that’s for sure. University acting students will absolutely jump at the chance to take on a role, even if there’s no pay. They know how the industry works, and will most certainly be willing to lend a helping hand to a fellow artist. One great thing about hiring acting students is the abundance of emotion and enthusiasm they’ll have for their roles, and the respect they’ll have for you. Student actors ensure that there will be no Prima Donna blow-ups on set, or in rehearsal.

    In the case of extras, you’ll more than likely be shelling out a few dollars. This is how the game is played; large groups of people are going to want money. Some will probably be students who are willing, but since extras get no on-screen credit, they’ll want some form of compensation.

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    Food

    Craft services are an important part of the process. They refuel and raise the morale of all the crew and actors who worked so hard for you. Craft services are a must for low budget films; if actors aren’t being paid they will want good food. Extras will also be held at bay so long as they are well fed. 8 hours on set with no food is never a good idea.