Experiments with zero budget and scorpions

i-am-brucelee

2015 marks the first year that I entered a time-based film competition and walked away empty handed. I’m  not ashamed to admit that. For so many years I’ve thrown a bunch of money, a bunch of favors, a crazy crunched amount of time and a lot of stress at a film concept and ended up with a great little film that can win over a local audience.

For a lot of reasons making films can be prohibitive to the average person. (Myself included) I’d love to be making narrative film everyday. But even no-budget films cost money. It is what it is. Obstacles like resource availability and time are a huge wall for filmmakers.  I get messaged by newer filmmakers about where I get my funding to make my movies. And the answer is always a bummer. I am my own funding.

This year I decided to experiment with a zero budget. Perhaps it was cockiness to see if I could and a little curiosity to see what it was like. But I decided to strike out on my own, with my own gear, and make a movie for the cost of 4 prop pizzas that doubled as craft service.

So with **$15 dollars and me as the shooter I made a movie called “SNOWED.”

I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish with nothing but a Sony Nex 5 and some primes. I learned how to garbage matte and use key frames and overlay footage in FCP – on my own… and to string together a scene on the spot – see editing issues – and shoot extra inserts to make the edits and transitions seem easy or invisible. How cool is that? It’s like film school again.

I also learned that production value and zero budget are hard to achieve simultaneously. (Well duh) What’s that saying? “Cheap, Fast and Good – pick two.”

Local audiences and judges love gloss and short format is highly effective with quick jokes and rising stakes. Without an ensemble cast of the best in town, this time I didn’t achieve an audience. Without a crew with a grip truck and a DP with a sweet camera – I fell prey to high ISO and some obvious grain. Not to mention, my camera work was very locked off – as I’m no silky hands camera op.

I did have a few friends take home awards at Z-Fest this year. They made great movies. I’m super proud of Owen Royce and Ryan Schaddellee. They are awesome filmmakers and I’m proud to be in the same community with them.

All in all I’m happy with the whole experience. I love making movies!

**To be fair, including festival entry and a 90% discounted sound mix the film cost about $250. PRO TIP: A sound mix is always worth the money.

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Outside the Tucson Marriot shooting in a Mountain Park.

Outside the Tucson Marriot shooting in a Mountain Park.

That being said – I went to Tucson in early February to shoot a video blog at the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show. I got to work with the amazing Kathy Levine a long time home shopping celebrity.

We had a great time. I made three videos – all with my own camera gear – using nothing but my cunning and the occasional borrowed LED light panel.

 

Not bad. The great outdoors are so awesome for quick, low impact, low budget shooting. Existing light. Iconic landscapes. Awesome.

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More to come from “Low Budget Bri” I’m working on proprietary webisode content with comedian Corey Adam (seen above in SNOWED).

There’s also a high possibility that I’m collaborating with my old mate Stevie Kane from 1 Light on some more goof ball narratives. #HELLYES

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