Your Stage : How to make a CHEAP MOVIE good - and get it sold? i'm going to do it step by step in public! by Georgia Hilton

Georgia Hilton

How to make a CHEAP MOVIE good - and get it sold? i'm going to do it step by step in public!

I've been blogging and teaching film production techniques from development to distribution for a number of years. I've worked on a lot of projects ranging from $10K indie student films to multimillion dollar gigs. I've always been helping and working for other people on their projects. I've worked from the beginning on some and i've been hired under non-disclosure to rescue others behind the scenes. One thing i've seen time and time again is a new or seasoned indie film maker with a good or even great script looking to shoot a $5M, $10M, even $20M project right out of the box. I watch them struggle and eventually fail. I only hope ( and your going to FLAME me for this ) is that they fail quickly. Why. Because NO ONE is going to give a first time filmmaker $20M to make a movie. And the sooner their "dream" is crushed, the better it is for them. Why do you ask? How come i'm such an evil bitch to wish this upon my fellow film Makers? Actually I pray to god they get to make their films and an angel comes in and give them the $20M... i'd be the first on their cheerleading team and the first to purchase the movie to watch. But in reality, the sooner they get over it, the sooner the film maker will start seeing reality and start making movies... Actual , real, movies. They can... YOU can. But first you need to put that $20M script away in a drawer or give it to an agent to push while you start working on your fist feature film that will cost you maybe $10,000 or $20,000 or even $50,000. A number you can actually raise from family, friends, your piggy bank and crowd funding. I've posted before about this and some people love it and some tell me to go "bugger off". Now worries, I'm pretty thick skinned.. you have to be to be in this business. Anyway, back to my point. So I've been talking about this for quite some time in person during lectures, and teaching, on the web and on a couple global webinars. Recently I was asked "Ms Hilton, have YOU ever made a $50K or under film yourself?" .... I paused and considered. "NO.. I have never made a small budget project of my own." I've helped others do it, but I haven't slogged thru the mud myself. and since I believe in putting my money where my mouth is... I'm going to make an under $50K feature film with friends, family, my piggy bank and crowd funding. AND, i'm doing it in public so you can follow the adventure and watch my team and I successfully create a solid micro-budget feature and make money on it , or you can watch the up coming train wreak and see me fail miserably. Either way you... and I, will learn something. So Please follow our project SUBCONSCIOUS on the following web sites. http://www.facebook.com/subconsciousthefilm and http://www.subconsciousfilm.com If nothing else you'll get a deep look into making a micro budget film that looks like you spent way way more on it!

Georgia Hilton

SUBCONSICOUS information: BUDGET $50K Georgia's LIMIT to personal funding $10K Georgia's family's limit $10K the rest is from crowd funding and friends. The film will be 90 minutes in lenght and be an action/suspense/thriller ONE ACT play. ( The cheapest movie you can shoot) set in a box ( home, or office, or elevator, or apt or...., limited cast, real time. )) and it will be set in a unique box. a submarine. yes, a real one. Located by georgia, begged by georgia and granted by Battleshipcove.com museum. All within budget.

Georgia Hilton

I wrote Subconscious myself as a one act play specifically for the challenge of making a good feature film on the cheap. it has 5 main character and is set 95% inside one single box location. A WW II submarine.

Georgia Hilton

I called in a bunch of favors and got a crew of friends for less than $50/day... in fact , most are working for free and all are taking a piece of the back end. So as far as crew costs, it's only hotel and food while in principle photography.

Georgia Hilton

We sorted out the script and we got it down to a 9 day shoot. Yes 9 days. remember.. no budget so we have to make this fast! so we're shooting something like 15 pages a day and at some points 20 / day. Ugh... 18 hour days here we come.

Georgia Hilton

I started calling my friends that were actors and landed a few good actors who are good friends. All again.. working for $50/day and a share of the backend. so now we have our 5 actors. on wait.. like most films... it's growing... so now I need 5 more supporting cast... No worries.. landed them too... $50/day and a piece of the backend.

Georgia Hilton

Some of my crew and other friends are giving us some money so I have reached an initial investment of $25K ($10K from me, $10K from my family, and $5K from crew and friends)

Georgia Hilton

The rest... KICKSTARTER! yup... we're doing a KICKSTARTER campaign - Launching JUNE 1st. So please i'm begging for money like the rest of us broke filmmakers.. all we need is another $25K and all we're looking for is $20 to $50 donations from other film maker who want to either watch me succeed or crash and burn so they ca say "told you she's an idiot... " either way its a cheap way to get some entertainment and get involved in our project.

Georgia Hilton

KICKSTARTER... damn.. I have to make a trailer and a call-to-action video... Ok the trailer. So I went up to the sub with my crew and we shot a bunch of plates of the sub. Then I called all my actors ( they live out of town ) and had them all send me videos of them acting. I then jumped on my computer and did some compositing and created a trailer. Additionally, we shot me.. ( I HATE being on camera) doing a call-to-action video while I take you all through a tour of our location. In the mean time we slammed together some visual effect shots of a submarine 3D model I purchased on line for $400. Remember the non-existent budget... I have to watch every penny. you can see some of the stills from the trailer on either of our websites. When KICKSTARTER goes live JUNE 1st you can watch the trailer there.

Georgia Hilton

So... whew... now you're basically up to.. no wait. Since the film is almost exclusively shot inside a sub I wanted some exterior BIG scenes.. but I don't have a dime extra to do it on. Pick up the phone more phone calls! STORY NOTE: my film spans both 2014 and 1943... so I need a buch of extras with costumes for a period piece and I have no money. So Lots of calls to re-enactment groups in New England... GOT 'EM!!!! 30 us NAVY personnel in period costumes for the big initial scene of the submarine in 1943. All I have to do is feed them and give them a small share of back end. so Now my cast is close to 50 people, I've got 3 exterior locations and 95% of the film is inside the sub with 5 people. and still the budget: $50K. Oh wait... one of my actors is in England... I need a simple shot with my actor at a farmhouse to introduce the character. I was going to do it in the states just up the road from the sub. But hey, if I get him to shoot the farmhouse scene in the UK I get MORE production value! ... more phone calls. and yes. I have a small crew I now owe a big favor to shooting the farmhouse scene in the UK.

Georgia Hilton

Ok NOW you are up to date.... to see more just go to our blog at http://www,facebook.com/subconsciousthefilm and to our website at http://www.subconsciousfilm.com

Georgia Hilton

remember, we're doing this to make a great film, to donate 25% of our profits to non-profit veteran support and memorial organizations and to provide a REAL WORLD HOW TO for indie film makers, so they can see how we took a set real-world first time budget and made a movie that is marketable and hopefully distributed. All with friends, family and freebees..

Julian Nabunya

Ok good Luck Ms Hilton

Amir Masud

Best of luck, Georgia!

Max Keanu

I like your style

Amir Masud

The synopsis is really interesting. I can see how you can make it for 10K. Very creative location! Wishing you all the best, and please share crowdfunding link if you have one.

Georgia Hilton

we're going live with KICKSTARTER June 1st at 1PM EST

Marinella Charlotte Van Ten Haarlen

Thank you so much for your explainations, but how to find a producer, which is trustworthy. We are sitting around the globe. I don#t want the big studios to share my books. I want Indie. Kind Regards Marii

Georgia Hilton

ahh... now THAT is an issue... The one thing that is easy to find in this business are "problem people" the hard thing to find are nice and profesional people. I have found a few and I hang on to them as hard as I can, because in the end, you need people around you that you can trust and those people need to have complete trust in you. Karma always seems to win out. So, i do my best to simply be nice, be professional, and do the job right the first time. Start looking for those people that are around you. They are out there, but it takes time to find them.

Marinella Charlotte Van Ten Haarlen

Thank you so much, I am sitting with all the projects behind the moon.and I wait for someone serious to come along not for people who are just sucking resources and money, time and nerves.It's really bad this time.

Marinella Charlotte Van Ten Haarlen

PS and no people who really understand somethig about crowdfunding.They all talk about it, but no one can.

Georgia Hilton

our KICKSTARTER launch is at 1PM today. I'll be posting the link here. you can follow us with a small donation and we're going to give away all the tricks and things we are doing along the path from Development to Delivery on the private blog for SUBCONSCIOUS feature film donators.

John Rodsett

Hi - I just made a really low low budget film - www.serenityfarmthemovie.com Its rather good I must say

Michael McCoy

A really great Idea... Will be looking into it.

REkz KaRZ

Very good points. Actually, while I enjoy a good meaningless action film and big budget pieces of junk, I think lower budgets force people to improve the quality of what you can adjust -- shots, writing, content, etc. Congrats for putting your $$$ where your mouth is! I'm subconsciously happy for you. :)

Georgia Hilton

we've started filming - check out our KICKSTARTER page to see some really cheap and really good looknig production stills! http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2103655780/subconscious-feature-film

Stephane Lun-Sin

Way to go Georgia! Just discovered your '5 people in a box' feature project and it is quite inspiring to see you doing it for 50K! All the best to what is probably now your post-production. I'll be following your updates and can't wait to see the finished feature!

Eric Stacey

Hi Georgia. Great to see you doing this. The audio on your trailer is, of course, amazing. Can't wait to see/read progress reports. Have a great shoot.

Amanda J Asquith

Nice one Georgia. Will be following closely. I aim to learn lots as a writer/producer!

Sally Hassan

Looking to check this out. Awesome stuff.

Martijn Derksen

Nice! Practice what your preach :)

Eleni Papanou

I'd like to see how you do it. Good luck!

Tamara Spicer

Do you think $20,000 is too low a budget for a action/drama film for quality production? If yes...any advice?

Cory Wess

@Tamara, honestly if you can't answer the question for yourself, then yes, it is too low. It is quite possible, but not necessarily obvious.

Georgia Hilton

it's all about how you use the money. if you want to do a low budget action film, then figure out the money you can raise and what you can get for free, who will work with you for basically nothing and where you can shoot for free. If you are smart and get all these on a list you can write a script that will fit your budget. Don't write a 20 Million Dollar action drama and expect to shoot it for $20K. Write the script based on WHO you have as friends or associates that will work for free, WHERE you have for locations for free ( the family farm, the empty lot down the road, your friends boat, etc... and write in only minimally what you need for the story so you only need to spend $20K.

Eric Stacey

Exactly. Also, for inspiration, read Robert Rodriguez book, "Rebel Without A Crew," about the making of "El Mariachi."

E.B. Laird

I worked on a film they spent $500,000 on that literally could have been shot for about $25,000 with the same results. If you put the money were it needs to go and not scattered around on things that will not help the quality of the picture anything is possible. (To a degree:)

Mark Ratering

If you do it Geogia I'm pretty sure it will get made and make a profit even .50 cents

Eric Stacey

Georgia, are you blogging about this? How can we follow your progress a bit more closely?

Doug Nelson

I'll have to follow this thread as I'm in the process of developing a local film production company in Oregon (our first shoot is in September.)

Joseph E. "Duke" Miller

looks terrific. I'd be very interested in seeing your budget.

Moe Headrick

Thanks for your help to so many, Georgia. Blessings to you.

Georgia Hilton

We wrapped the feature's principle photography and we're now doing a few pickups. Editing has started and we have a FRENCH theatrical distribution deal already, along with interest in JAPAN and KOREA... Our Sales Agent is taking the film to AFM and we're looking to premier in Cannes. Our US distributor is getting interested and taking a small theatrical run then off to digital in the US. So far so good... All on less than $50K so far.

Tracey Ma

Very impressive. Congratulations! This is very inspiring.

Georgia Hilton

you can follow our project and see some material from our shoot at either http://subconsciousfilm.com or http://www.facebook.com/subconsciousthefilm

Merri Christi Pemberton

Congratulations Georgia! I am in pre-production for a film I am doing and co-directing. I do believe that great films can be made with a smaller budget, but for those who want to spend more and this is their first film...I would suggest for that person to learn how to build a good business model or stream of revenue early on to support the film. Some of the successful fundraising I have seen done by filmmakers are from those who might have had a prior online webisodes or short films shown online, and through that they have already gained a fan following who are more than happy to contribute money to the filmmakers first feature film. In fact, we have all seen filmmakers who used Indiegogo, Kickstarter, or their own independent platform to receive money and they offer their fans and the public something in return for them giving money to the film or purchasing something where the money goes back into the film (t-shirt, free admission to the film premiere, chance to be featured in the film, etc). I think that it is very important to show potential investors that you are willing to invest your own money in your project, and if you have a good support base financially and a good base of supporters who will turn out to see the film, then the investor may be more willing to loosen up the purse strings as well. One thing that I have done to get more people involved in my film, even before we begin production late this year, is we already have released a few songs from the film soundtrack online for sale and just launched an online treasure hunt game which has a free version and a paid version. The game perfectly matches the film's treasure hunt adventure theme.

Georgia Hilton

We just landed or first Distribution Deal. Working on the next 3 countries.

Merri Christi Pemberton

Congratulations on your distribution deal!

Deanna Rashell

If you have any info on getting webseries picked up, I'd love to hear about that :)

Aimee Theresa

This is awesome, thank you for sharing your story.

Russell Buchanan

Here's an article about China film on Movie Money EMag, I'm a writer and research contributor, they edited it. Please share it. http://www.ufmag.biz/moviemoney/Movie%20Money%20Magazine%20issue%202%202...

Gabriel Joseph Fernandes

That is great!

Kings Melly

its all about money..why not stick stuff on utube,,and wait

Georgia Hilton

wait for what... money from Youtube... right... go buy a lottery ticket. you've got better chances.

Georgia Hilton

make a good commercially viable product and sell it... then make another. When you're sitting on your yacht and can self fund your films do what yo want.

Evan Marlowe

Congrats to you. It's so hard getting the funding, which you did and then some. It's hard finishing a film, which you did. And it's hard getting distribution. You've proven it's all entirely doable. As the big studio system struggles to survive, you've shown you can make and sell films without it for relatively cheap.

Georgia Hilton

just closed another international deal and shopping the film at AFM.

Mark Ratering

Never a good idea to invest you own money in a project...the mark of a good producer is to use other peoples money

Merri Christi Pemberton

The mark of a good producer doesn't necessarily have to be about whether the producer uses his/her own money or someone else's money. If a producer thinks that a film is so worth it that he/she was willing to put some skin in the game, then more power to him/her. In the case of indie filmmakers, they sometimes have to become their own producers and financiers, which also gives them more control over the film. Whomever holds the purse, can easily pull those strings.

Mark Ratering

You have to be careful. When your money is in the game you make decisions that cloud your decisions as an artist or drive behind the artists. Fine Line

Georgia Hilton

no one is going to give you money to make a movie.. Period. Unless you have a proven track record of delivering commercially successful films. Even just one. So stop dreaming about getting millions to make your movie. It ain't gonna happen. If you want to start a career in film , if you want to make a living making movies.... you have to start with a film that you can afford to make. The MARK of a GOOD producer is getting a quality film made and delivered ON TIME and ON BUDGET... it has nothing to do with where the money comes from.

Georgia Hilton

My discuss is about making a commercial film cheap and getting it done in the real world. Not in some dream world that you're going to write, direct and make a movie on someone else's dime with not experience or track record....

Eric Stacey

Georgia, you are the real deal. Not only that, you are an inspiration. Tomorrow I am about to launch my third feature, a suspense drama based on actual events, "Unthinkable." Producing out of Portland, Oregon, we have a ton of seasoned actors and we've got 'em all in our film. You are absolutely right that a good film doesn't need to cost a lot of money. It needs a good screenplay which cast and crew recognize as having what it takes to attract an audience, hold their attention and when it's over tell their friends they've got to see it. I know you have made such a film and we are setting out on the same path. Eric Stacey - Movies On A Mission

Mark Ratering

A number you can actually raise from family, friends, your piggy bank and crowd funding. I've posted before about this and some people love it and some tell me to go "bugger off". Now worries, I'm pretty thick skinned.. .....You have said in your story here that you are getting money from others. There have been a few on stage 32 a year or so ago that were in homeless centers cuz they used all their money on their film. Also guys it's going to be a tough road if you do not have a Star. Many agents will not even look at your film without an a good known Star. What I would really like to see Georgia is what you return is on your investment. Thanks

Mark Ratering

With all respect I disagree. If your going to worry about running out of monry... and your going poor as a result of "doing your dream" it will affect the project. I worked for the King of low budget film-makers in the 80's Ted Mikels and the pressure on the set was always heavy if we were going to even have dinner......it affected our work, for the worst. I produced films with millions.... much better not that pressure. Good Luck all

Georgia Hilton

I was asked to show some filmmakers how to make a good commercially viable project with a realistic budget that an indie filmmaker could do on their own... I did. We spent $50K and we have a number of contracts for distribution to various territories. One territory alone is $250K... so we did just fine on this film. The intent of this blog is to show filmmakers that with a good project (read script, cast and crew) you don't need a ton of cash to make a commercial product. But you do need to write a script that fits your budget so you can make a high-quality low-cost film. If you want to see the quality of our project go to http://www.Subconsciousfilm.com and check out the still frames from the film we've posted. A public trailer in currently in progress. I've had way to many wanna be filmmakers come looking for production help to raise literally millions from other people to make their movie. Most want between $500K and $5M for their "amazing Oscar potential very first script that they will direct, and BTW they never did anything commercil ever..." It doesn't work that way. You want to make movies for a living. Then start thinking commercially. You want to make art pieces, then knock yourself out. But please don't waste my time. You want to get other people to give you money to make your films.... then SHOW ME your completed commercially successful project and I'll take to you about raising some money for your next one. Until then....

Georgia Hilton

http://www.subconsciousfilm.com/poster/ and http://subconsciousfilm.com/photos/ and BTW our rule was I could only invest my time, and $10K that is all I personally spent on this film.. the rest came from friends, family and kickstarter.... the same way any other indie film maker would raise the money. in fact, we're donating 25% of the return to veteran groups as well.

Ren Kennedy

How incredibly inspiring! Cannot wait to see your film :)

Chad Mercree

I love how you are walking your talk. Congratulations.

Andre Hunt

I took a year to make Bum Rap - A Noir Fantasy, using three actors (lots of hours in post). I think the budget was probably $300. dollars. It's being entered in festivals right now. You can do it too. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PH7vdg8m9MY

Julian Nabunya

i can't wait for the trailer

Andre Hunt

That's just the kind of thing to hear to get me off my butt and back to work. I guess I should also say thanks for watching. And you just got added to my "network" Andre

Andre Hunt

Or requested, that is.....

Chad Mercree

Do you still blog?

Georgia Hilton

yup. just busy doing 2 features right now.

John O'Hare

Excellent advice Georgia!

Padma Narayanaswamy

Great you are the right person to produce my script. My scripts are both entertaining and inspiritional . Pl read my scripts posted here and thanks

Georgia Hilton

Hi Padma... I do produce movies for other people and companies, but I do so for a fee and a standard percentage.

Padma Narayanaswamy

Sorry In India the system is different the Producer will pay money .Anyway I am a middle class woman with no income, and only a passion for writing .

Georgia Hilton

no worries... Executive producers pick up the tab here in the States. Producers make your movie get made, from finding money, development, staffing up, pre-pro, managing production, managing post, dealing with delivery and finding distribution....

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