Wednesday, 27 October 2010

The 'Zero-Budget' moto

I am slightly bored - not for a lack of stuff to do - believe me! But I've been rendering all night, and have been waiting on some files to restore. I can't really do much else as my system is currently overloaded! Now I have to keep myself busy with less CPU intensive activities - blogging!

So I thought 'let me talk thru something that I call "The Zero Budget" Moto.'
People have asked me how much some of my films cost to produce and the simple answer is 'nothing'. I have been extremely fortunate to have been able to work with people who have been willing to act for free - I have used 'throw-away' lights here and there and have sourced the cheapest most inexpensive props I could find - often just stuff that was lying around the house.

Here are a few key things that have helped me in approaching the cheapo'-film-making' process.

1. Time is greater money. [Time=planning=cost-effectiveness]
Time is important especially to the person who is learning - it affords him room to make mistakes, correct the mistakes and then try again, and again, and again. For most of us, we're not seasoned vets - we're just learning!
I've been tremendously blessed working for the church and being afforded the time to conceptualize, dream, plan and then execute and experiment - sure there are deadlines - as there always will be - but its been a very 'free' environment to learn.

2. Know your tools
I don't have high-end equipment, but I try and exploit every resource I have to try and get an image looking solid. Often my own sense of composition lets me down - especially when I see the footage back in post - but sometimes the image I thought wouldn't work while shooting, ends up looking awesome after grading. Having said all that, I know about 10 percent of AE, maybe 40 percent of FCP and 60 percent of Pro Tools, etc etc.

3. Network
I am not your socialite kinda guy - far from it. Ask those closest to me! But, I have found that one of the most valuable things in my 'arsenal of creativity' is having people in on the process - whether it be someone that is keen to act for you because they want to work on their reel, or someone wanting to do VFX for your project because they believe in the story, or maybe there's just someone you can bounce ideas off. Having a network of like-minded people around you is invaluable!

4. Spontaneity
Often you can pull the same stuff off that big budget productions can but you got to be there when the action happens. For instance I can only shoot during the night, at specific locations where the light is good, and in the early morning or late afternoon during golden hour when the light is lowest in contrast and the shadows are nice - when you have a big budget you can shoot at anytime of day or under almost any conditions because you can replicate any condition you want, using lighting and other visual effects techniques.

5. Favor
God makes things happen especially if its on His heart too!

I did Church News last week - here is the before and after - only natural light used - you can see the reflection of the outdoors in my glasses.


  1. Thank you for sharing, you've certainly given me something to think about. And Lord knows the wealth of information available online these days...I have no excuse.

  2. Great post Salomon. But I would argue that very few can pull off what you do and your work is NOT free. Your time, tools, and network are worth a whole lot!

  3. Inspiring work. Very curious about your role as sound designer. Do you have a background as musician? How long have you been using Protools? Any advice for anyone ambitious enough to want to compose their own material like you have done?