I get by with a little help from my friends: making a short film on a shoe-string budget
Updated: Aug 12, 2019
What do you do when you want to make something that requires money...but...you have none?
The goal was (is) to push myself creatively, to learn practically, and challenge and interrogate how we write women for the screen. I wanted to create something authentic, original, explorative, experimental, and fun. But, when that 'something' is a film, and you don't have a (real) budget, then the project must call for some ultimate collaboration, some 'thinking outside the box,' a little innovation, detailed planning, and of course, FRIENDS (and generous believers)!
'A Girl for Everyday of the Week' is a short film that could not have happened if it weren't for the generous support and help of some likeminded creative friends and family, and even, some local businesses. But first, it had to start with an idea, then a script, and then, getting others as inspired as I was about making the damned thing.
First to get on board was Matt Honey, the cinematographer and film-enthusiast. And luckily for me, Matt is ridiculously talented, and likeable. Score. Next, was to come up with a shot list based on the script and figure out the locations together. Clearly, a £250-budget film will not include expensive, (not to mention wasteful) purpose-built sets, so the locations needed to be in places that already existed - great, we can use our houses, get funky with props, makeup, play with lighting...
But wait, what about lights? Matt had the camera, but limited lighting gear. Time to call on another favour...Again, and very luckily for me, Matt has a friend who works at at the University of Winchester's film department. In other words, free lighting and equipment hire (for 72 hours.) Score. Now, I simply needed to plan the shooting schedule to fit around the use of lights - it's a short film, so shooting would take a maximum of a week all-in-all.
But what about sound gear? I didn't have that either (Hmm, what do you have Angel?) and my no-budget wouldn't cover the costs of decent sound gear (boom, zoom, or a good Rhode mic even.) We'd finished shooting 'Adira's Dream' already, and I'd definitely earned several favours from the director, Olly, who was more than happy to lend me his sound gear. (Note to self: JUST ASK. You are bound to know someone with the gear, or who wants to get involved with your project if it's something they want to do too.) I didn't have a sound guy, but I knew my brother, Sam, would be keen as a sound buff, and if not, my boyfriend Tom was happy to fulfil any role(s) where needed. We'll be fine.
But there was another issue - my 'practically no budget short film' required two scenes to be set in a cafe, and an office. I didn't have either of those (yet.) I do, however, love coffee, and may have based one of the character's scenes on a situation that may or may not have happened at a local cafe when I was working there a few years' back. Time to call on another favour from Winchester's most esteemed independent business and artisan cafe director (and local creatives supporter) Gary Whiter of Cabinet Rooms (and my former boss.) He was more than happy to support a fellow creative in their artistic pursuits. I could use the cafe for 2-3 hours, before they opened on a Sunday morning. Perfect.
https://www.linkedin.com/posts/garywhiter_filmlocation-localcreative-hampshirefilm-activity-6490473419350503424-qZ4- (To view a little video created by Gary during filming in his cafe.)
But what about the office? One of my scenes is set in an office, and although I was aware this is a no-budget creative project, I didn't want it to look naff. Another favour. And again, I got lucky. I could use a family member's office on a Saturday - because they don't work then, duh. But, my friends will be happy to give up their time on a weekend...of course. Sorted.
And now, with the borrowing of lights, filming inside and making it look 'legit' was gong to be easy... right?
I decided to perform the role of each girl, so that the cast (and crew) would be minimal. And, I'd secured Matt, the cinematographer, Matt, Tom, the AD/Art Director/Anything and Everything role/potential Sound guy; and Sam, the Sound guy. I really just needed a few more 'actors.' Who did I know that wouldn't mind being on screen, learning a few lines, and giving their best performance. Another question - who do I know that may not know they want to be on screen, but, they have a natural ability?
Time to bring out the The Horn of Gondor.
Tom, the 'everything guy' had performed in 'Adira's Dream,' and he is a natural on camera. He will play the part of the "obnoxious, business man." Who will play the other 'Runner'? My brother's girlfriend is a singer and performer, a natural on camera, and generally, a lovely human being. Would she like to be a part of a fun short film? She was keen. (LUCKY me.) I just needed a grumpy, rude (middle-aged) customer, of any sex. Should I ask the actual customer that it was based on - they were, after all, a town local. No. But then of course, actors are performing a part - they don't actually need to be middle-aged, it would just require some playtime with makeup, costume...characterisation...like theatre school again! Theatre, being the operative word. Meet Craig, a local thespian and poet. Similar age, but accustomed to playing "middle-aged grumpy men." Bloody marvellous.
So, I had my actors, they have the script. They just need to learn their lines, I just need to learn mine. A little bit of rehearsing. Boom, ready to go. Almost.