Build Your Own Film Studio on a Budget - Raindance

There’s never been a better time to make a film. That’s what we believe at Raindance and what we’re encouraging with all the budding filmmakers coming through our doors all over the world, and that’s what we’ve been seeing for a quarter of a century at the Raindance Film Festival.

Once upon a time, the barrier to making a film was getting the celluloid and the equipment. For instance, Martin Scorsese shot his breakthrough feature, Who’s That Knocking On My Door, on weekends. Some weekends, actually, and he was enraged when one day Harvey Keitel showed up on set having had a haircut. Then, when it came to actually showing the film, there was much less of a barrier.

So what makes now the best time to make a film? You’ve got all the equipment you need already! At the moment, it’s either sitting next to your laptop, or in your pocket, or you’re even reading this piece on it. Your smartphone has all the capabilities for you to make a film. Even better, you can run an entire film studio from it. Even, even better: you get to build your film studio for under £35.

Will you take the bet?

Building your audience

The cardinal sin of filmmakers in the digital age is assuming that audiences will come flocking to their film because it’s so amazing. Whether it is truly amazing or not, that’s more or less irrelevant. You have to let people know that you’re here. Therefore, you’ll need a few apps in order to let people know that you’re here.

Facebook: that’s a no-brainer, everyone is on it. Now, because everyone is on it, it’ll be harder for you to be noticed. Twitter: the second most powerful platform, perhaps the most public, therefore the best to get your film out there. Instagram: not as crucial as the previous two, but as the Internet is moving towards increasingly visual content, giving people a peek into what the filmmaking process is like, visually, is not quite necessary, but hasn’t been a bonus for a while.

These platforms are essential and you can manage all of them on Hootsuite. Therefore, when you launch your profiles, you need to have your poster ready, the visual identity of your page ready, and your content strategy as well. Because you need to start as early as possible, that means this has to be prepared in pre-prod as an integral part of the filmmaking process. Filmmaking is nothing if you don’t know how to make your film available to audiences. If any art is about expressing something to someone, what’s the point if you don’t know how to send your message?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Hootsuite: FREE

Making the film

A good pen and a notebook is always your best friend if you have a soft spot for the romantic view of writing. However, the global writer on the go is never without their smartphone: Final Draft is your new best friend. You’ll get your script formatted perfectly and ready to be sent to the friends you rely on for feedback. It’s the exact same trustworthy app you’ve got on your laptop, just more portable. Imagination is free, the app is £9.99.

Now that you’re in pre-production: you need to plan. Celtx (the main rival to Final Draft, freer but less handy) has launched a series of apps, to help you throughout the filmmaking process. Celtx Reports is the one you want at this stage: it’s going to be your highest suggested app in no time. It’ll help you break down scenes, create call sheets, draft shot lists, and all the rest. The price of making your life simpler: free.

When it comes to filming, do it the way the other pros do it. Sean Baker, director of milestone film Tangerine, used a few iPhones with Filmic Pro on it. This app is conceived to bring your phone’s lens to the level of fancy gear -or at least seem like it. (And if the film business is about anything, it’s appearances.) You’ll get to manage exposure, frame rates, focus etc. The price of upgrading your camera: £14.99

Now that you’ve got your footage, you need to edit it, sculpt it together. The most effective way will be iMovie. It’s the most intuitive way for you to stitch your film together and bring it to the final cut, natively on your phone. No lost time on the Tube, you can edit on the go.


And now, you’ve got your film together. You’re ready to unveil it to the world. By now, you will have told everyone all about your film without having released it. Ramp up the hype, and drop it. And hammer it home, too. Remind them that this is your baby -but don’t be soggy.

Now that you’ve done that, you’ve reached the stage when you can pat yourself on the back (thirty seconds, not more). Take a chilled evening and watch Netflix: that’s less than £10. Catch up on House of Cards. Watch the classics you haven’t seen yet (but claim you have). Watch them backwards and forwards, mute them and analyse them. Not only is that relaxing, it’s also going to fuel your creativity for your next project.

By the way – what’s your next project?



Baptiste is a writer hailing from the part of France where it is always sunny. After a stint in politics and earning his Master's Degree in Management, he was a marketing intern for the 23rd Raindance Film Festival in 2015, then joined the team permanently in 2016 as the Registrar of the MA in Filmmaking. He is passionate about diversity in film, which he researches and writes about extensively. He is the producer of the hit webseries "Netflix & Kill" and the multi-award-winning short film "Alder", as well as a writer for stage and screen. His short film "U Up?" is currently in pre-production.