Getting an indie film to look like a million bucks – or $50-100 million – is tough. It’s necessary to find inventive ways to create a professional looking film even on a smaller budget.
Here are a few tips on how to go about it.
Getting a Cinematic Appearance
Getting a cinematic appearanceon a lower budget requires a few tricks.
Where appropriate, adding fog to a scene creates an atmosphere in the frame even when the rest of the frame isn’t moving much. It imbues the scene with depth and atmosphere by default and ups the ante when it comes to production values.
Shoot in 4K or higher. Aim for 24 FPS because this is what is expected visually by moviegoers. People identify with this frame rate as a cinematic movie as opposed to a TV series. Bear in mind though that if you plan to have scenes edited with some slow-motion parts, you cannot use 24 FPS because it’ll be choppy. At which point, you’ll need to use a quicker shutter speed and faster frame rate, so it can be slowed down later and still appear fluid.
Using a Professional Crew
Now let’s say you are planning to shoot on location in a place like Orlando, you’ll need a professional company that can capture great location shots in the right way for your film production in Orlando and this holds true wherever you go. If you’re new, then you can learn as you go by sitting in with the crew to watch them as they work.
Depending on your budget, you might plan to have more difficult scenes or just the exterior shots captured by a professional crew. When hiring the right film production team, they’ll have better equipment to shoot low-light exteriors much better than inexpensive rented camera equipment will ever do.
When shooting on digital video, lighting is everything. Light is a critical factor because scenes shot with too little light are barely visible when doing digital. Even with post-production techniques, adding greater illumination in a shot can washout the image. It’s best to use professional lighting rigs to get sufficient light in every scene to avoid the problem.
For instance, with 1,500 watts of light, it won’t be sufficient to light up a large space. In which case, you’ll need to plan to light areas of it sequentially and shoot parts of the scene in that area and then change the lighting setup. This is commonplace in shooting – the five-minute Tarantino-esque. introductory walkthrough of the entire scene is unusual – but it becomes more necessary with limited lighting options. Better, stronger lighting in limited places is preferable over dimmer light everywhere because the final shot will be far superior; the dimmer version might be unusable, requiring reshoots.
Looking beyond the filming itself, when you neglect other areas of production, then it’s difficult to overcome. Namely the script and the actors. If you have an excellent screenplay, then it’s easier to attract talented actors to an indie film production. With authentically-portrayed characters, an engaging plot and interesting dialogue, audience members will willingly overlook parts of the film that indicate a lower budget was used. Remember, people care about the characters, plot, and storyline too; not just the film’s budget.