A couple years ago, I wrote a script with the intention of making it into a movie. It was an action/comedy with plenty of slapstick. It was the best script I had ever written, people really liked it, and the staged reading for the film had done really well. A really talented director was interested in coming onboard.
The problem? It was pretty expensive to shoot. The estimates I heard from a couple producers and directors ranged from $200,000 to over a million dollars.
Now, “expensive” is a relative term when you’re talking about movies. A $20 million feature with an A-list cast is a steal, especially when big-budget superhero joints can be ten times that. But for me, $200,000 is plenty expensive.
So I floundered. I started noodling on some other drafts, took a job outside the industry, and didn’t do much of anything on the project.
There’s nothing spectacularly interesting about this story. I’m sure thousands of people are experiencing the same thing right now. And others are saying, “Screw it! Make it happen! You can do it!”. To which I always reply, “How would you go about getting two hundred grand for a film you plan to write, direct, and star in?”
Crickets. Every single time.
I’m fully aware that I might have some mental block that’s preventing me from seeing an obvious solution for getting that amount of money and making that movie.
Working With What I’ve Got
So, I decided to start small. A few months ago, I wrote and directed a short film for about 2 grand. Then I wrote a couple of other shorts. One of them, a mockumentary-style comedy, looks like it can be VERY cheap to make as a feature.
Then I thought,”If I can’t make a movie for 200 grand, what can I do?”
What budget would keep me from worrying about finding investors, or even worse, worrying about paying people back. What amount of money could I scrape together for a film and not be devastated if the film didn’t make money?
The answer came pretty quickly. Ten grand. I don’t know why, that’s just the number that came up.
My Goal: To shoot a feature film for $10,000 in July of 2017.
It’s a laughably small amount of money when you consider the logistics of feeding a crew, paying actors, and doing basic things. Then again, Edward Burns made a movie for $9,000. So it’s possible. Hell, Mark Duplass talks about how you should make a feature for $1,000.
Now I have a little less than seven months to make this movie happen. Oh yeah, did I mention I don’t have a script for the feature?
Screw it. Let’s do this.