Becoming A No-Budget Film Director | Raindance Film School

For as long as I can remember, movies have always been the greatest love of my life. Since I was kid, I’ve been able to watch something like 2 to even 10 movies or tv shows a day! I’ve always dreamed of becoming a no-budget film director. And I’ve never missed anything from the so called “real world”. I went to school, played football at a semi-pro level, went out with friends day and night and took holidays away. And obviously worked a lot after finishing ordinary school!

But no matter, I’ve always managed to keep a minimum of 2-3 hours a day free for movies! I have this love of movies!

Even after a night out at the club for example, and coming back home at 6 in the morning, I’d still watch a movie, a short or a tv episode before going to sleep!

Even though I’ve always loved movies, my career started in the theatre. I was trained and raised in a theatre company in my home town while I was finishing high school. But after 3 years of plays and tours, I’ve decided that cinema and the film industry would become my future. I wanted to make movies, but I really did not know how to make them.

My first big discovery

And that’s when I came across Raindance. I was looking for some established and insightful film directing class, when I found the Director’s Foundation Class hosted by film and commercials director Simon Hunter.

That class radically changed me, and made me understand that anyone, including me, could make a movie, You just need 2 things: passion and knowledge. Gain knowledge that you only develop on set shoot after shoot.

After that class I went onto signing up for the Raindance Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking (the class attended by the then very young Edgar Wright and Christopher Nolan back in the 90s). I took many more Masterclasses at Raindance and other film schools. Believe it or not, less than 6 months after finishing the Director’s Foundation Certificate, I was shooting my very first web series!

I had a simple idea. If I put a camera inside the fridge in my house and shoot an episode from the moment the fridge gets open until it gets shut; filming me and my flatmates having random funny conversations about our everyday life. It is called “The Fridge: An Ugly WebSeries” similar in execution to “Camera Café”, French and Italian tv sitcom haired in the early 2000’s. Suddenly I was a No-Budget Film Director.

From that moment onwards, I started to really understand that to make movies, you need to keep them as low budget as possible (at least in the beginning of your career).

But how can you keep them low budget? Along the way you learn many tricks and shortcuts to make a short movie or webseries for as little as £100. Some ways to not spend much money are:

1- Find your cast and crew between young and aspiring filmmakers.

Having seasoned people in your movies will certainly bring you experience, quality and security. But it will also cost quite a lot.  Probably not everyone will want to follow the lead of someone less experienced than them. On your first movies, you need to surround yourself with people that believe in you, and want to learn as much as you do. And at the same time, remember that nowadays film students have way more experience than they used to have back in the 20th century. All thanks to new technology and free online tutorials available.

On top of that, they will agree to work for you for a reasonable and sustainable fee. Probably your first 2-3 shorts won’t look amazing that’s true. But these early shorts are fundamental step sto get to shoot big budget movie of your dreams later in your career. For example, my camera and sound departments in my latest shorts plus cast and the post-production team were all people aged 19 to 25 max! And the results have been absolutely fantastic.

2- Buy all your props and costumes on Amazon.

Luckily, Amazon offers a full 30 to 60 day refund on pretty much everything available on the market. So you can buy everything you need. Use it for the shooting and just send everything back! And you won’t even have spent a single penny!! Not even a rental fee: zero! Thanks to this trick I’ve used £1,300/$2,000 worth of equipment, props and costumes for free., As soon as the shoot was over I sent everything back to Amazon. The refund showed up in my account just 8 days later.

3- A No-Budget Film Director uses abandoned locations.

If you are shooting a movie in a bar, an office or similar, look on Google for the abandoned properties near your home. Then reach out to the owner and ask to shoot your movie there. You’ll be surprised. There are plenty of abandoned locations which owners are willing to let you use for free!

4- Keep it simple

I know, we all love blood, parties, car chasing and explosions! I myself have 3 feature and 1 tv show scripts with all these elements But unless I find 1 million or more for each one of them, these movies are never going to happen.

But on top of that, I also have 2 easy scripts to be shot between 5 characters in an empty bar. And that’s where you have to start! Think about movies like Clerks, Paranormal Activity or 10 Cloverfield Lane. All these films happen just in a limited space (a shop, a house, a bar) and yet they are amazing movies!

Following these simple guidelines I’ve been able to proceed after my first WebSeries and get to the next step in my filmmaking career: I’ve founded my independent production company, the Riservati Pictures and successfully completed 4 short movies:

I Really Need to See a Good Doctor

A Movie Without an Ending

This film got several nominations around the globe.

An Insta(nt) Story

An award winning micro-short, which has just been released on the independent streaming platform Paus.tv and you can watch now for free.

The Social Doctor

Shot in 2 days with a 20 people crew and 6 cast members for as little as £1000! The short is now going through the festival run and it will be soon released on Paus.tv, Indieflix and other streaming platforms!

I’m still far away from being an established filmmaker, but I know that base camp is now behind my shoulders, and the real fun begins!

I want to close this just saying that at some point in your life, somebody or some event will drastically change your expectations. This will put you on the road that will make you find your place in this world. For me that event was that very first day at the Raindance Film School, where I understood that my place in the world was, is, and will always be cinema!

This is my little #RaindanceSuccessStory, and I hope you will make your way in movies too!

Do you have a love of movies? Would you like to become a No-Budget Film Director?

Ask how Raindance Film School can advance your career!

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About 

Matteo Valentini (Vignola, MO, Italy - 16/11/1990) is an Italian actor, director and screenwriter.

Trained at the E. Fabbri drama company in his hometown in Italy, he left his country for London, where he studied acting and filmmaking for two years attending many masterclasses and workshops at the Raindance Film School and the London City Academy Film School.

He is known for his social media dark comedies, usually shot with a mix of long takes, jump cuts and whip pan transitions that can make even a completely static movie as exciting as a a survival-action flick. His main credits include: The Social Doctor (2021); An Insta(nt) Story (2020); A Movie Without An Ending (2020) and I Really Need To See A Good Doctor (2019).

Check out all his productions on Instagram @riservatipictures or on Vimeo.