You don’t need a camera to make a film.
Honestly. I did it. It turned out pretty good too.
I’d been trying to get a short film funded for a couple of years. I thought I was the perfect candidate for funding. I had good script. I had experience. I felt I had something to say. I was hungry.
But no one wanted to give me any money. It was damaging my soul. But then it dawned on me. With the thousands of people applying for funding schemes, it’s insane to think that they would pick me. My script was just a lottery ticket that I’d spent two years working on. That’s an expensive lottery ticket.
I got angry. I said screw it. I gave myself seven days to make a film with no money, no ideas, and no camera. From somewhere within my subconscious I coughed up a surreal glitchy thriller called Keith and it’s currently kicking up a bit of a stir.
Here’s what making it taught me.
1. Deadlines mean everything.
I mean everything. If I didn’t give myself the seven day deadline, I would’ve never have finished this film. It was labour intensive. I had blisters on my fingers from all the clicking and the scrolling.
I considered giving myself a break and a day off, but the deadline pushed me through.
2. You can do a lot for free.
It’s surprising how limitations can help you. As Jeff Goldblum said “life … finds a way”.
I didn’t have a camera, so I told my story through a computer screen.
I didn’t have money for software so I used trial software. (For those interested, Adobe CC, Camtasia, and RowByte Plugins.)
I didn’t have access to fancy sound libraries so I found some royalty free sounds on 99sounds.org.
The limitations forced me to make the most of what I had. It forced me to put emphasis on the story above all else.
3. Keep it simple.
I only used software that I’d either used before, or knew had a shallow learning curve.
I stayed away from After Effects. People spend months trying to tame that beast. I didn’t have time.
Again this limitation meant that I had to work within the parameters of what I knew.
Saying that, Camtasia, was easy peasy lemon filmy.
4. You can sleep when you’re dead.
… or at night, but don’t get carried away. During these seven days I found myself going polyphasic. My day was separated by naps, office work, eating, and working on my film.
My life became binary. 1 – will this help my film. 0 – will this not help my film. I just had to make sure I filled it with 1’s.
It was a painful week, but I knew I could rest up after the film was finished. It was the first time I’d gotten out of bed without hitting the snooze button in years.
5. Don’t worry about how it will be perceived.
I think the reason this film turned out quite well is because it’s 100% unapologetic. I didn’t have time to worry if a joke made sense, if the film was too weird, or if I should spoon-feed the audience more. I just had to concentrate on making it.
And what came out was pure authentic me. In today’s world I think that’s what people want to see more than anything else — authenticity. Even if it comes without a budget.