Making a movie on a tight budget is no easy task, there is much that can be done to save money on, but little attention is paid to what can be done to prevent budget leakage on task force that could’ve been prevented. This list is meant to prevent indie filmmakers from making such mistakes and advice is given based on my previous experience as part of the production team of an indie film.
1. Invest in pre production
This is probably the most important money-saver EVER.
Many indie filmmakers tend to invest little time and money in preproduction, and the cost of bypassing it is HIGH. Every penny you spend on this phase will save you thousands of dollars later on.
Storyboard, make an animatic, edit thoroughly, play around with it all until the director feels happy with every single shot, and make a shot breakdown and schedule . These two documents along with the budget are the core of production, they need to be as accurate as possible and have just enough flexibility to allow certain resource flow change in order to protect the project in case of a task force meltdown. ( which hopefully won’t happen! )
A piece of advice: when on a tight budget I seriously recommend starting storyboarding until you have the final script draft. And of course working on concept art, and production design can be done parallel to storyboarding.
The important thing here is that the core team of the project ( Producer, Director, VFX Sup, art director ) know that this is the only room for experimentation that the project will probably allow, and that everyone needs to be happy with the end result when pre production wraps up, because the budget will allow little change later.
By the end of this phase you should be ready to green light production with a well organized project and a happy director.
Part 2 coming soon!