One of the best ways to make a successful debut feature film is to make it for little or no money. That’s according to filmmakers Robert Rodriguez, Christopher Nolan, Richard Linklater and more, all of whom can be seen sharing their wisdom on no-budget filmmaking in a video essay on Vimeo entitled “Lessons for the No-Budget Feature.”
“Refuse to spend any money and see how much you can do with your creativity,” Rodriguez says in the video. “You can have a lot of fun and do some really cool stuff in your back yard with just a few toys.”
One of the practical tips Nolan shares is avoiding things that will give away the fact that you don’t have any money in your budget.
“With no-budget films, guns don’t work very well, because you can never get the right replica gun, it’s never got the weight to it, and you can’t fire blanks,” Nolan says in the video. “So whenever you’d see that in somebody’s student film, it would always seem to give the budget away.” As a workaround, Nolan recommended using a hammer or other item as a weapon in your movie.
One of the important things to remember when approaching your first film is the fact that almost all of today’s great filmmakers got their start doing the exact same thing — making a movie on a shoestring budget.
To hear more from filmmakers including Richard Linklater, check out the video below.