Raindance's 10 Commandments Of Low Budget FilmsMy name is Elliot Grove. I’ve been running Raindance since 1992. Back in those days everyone shot on film – 35mm if you could afford it. We made expensive film prints that showed in cinemas, and to promote the screenings we printed and mailed expensive leaflets and posters, and bought ads in newspapers.

We don’t do any of those things any more. And moviemaking has changed direction big time. The only thing that has stayed the same is that making a movie is hard work. But it’s not difficult if you follow these 10 basic steps:

1.) Thou shalt have a fantastic screenplay

It’s basic stuff here, and it’s the step most unsuccessful filmmakers skip over – and it’s why they fail.
Get a great script and you are on the road to success.
Read: Creating Character Web

2) Thou shalt understand keywords and SEO tools

Your keywords are how people will find out about you and your film project. Get the free keyword tools and learn how to incorporate them into your screenplay, film title and press releases. Get more people to follow your Twitter and Facebook account.  Do a search for ‘Keyword tools’ or use Google’s keyword tool.
Learn about Marketing Digital Content

3) Thou shalt secure some development finance

It doesn’t need to be a lot, but a few weeks’ money to keep the wolf and the landlord off your back will allow you to get properly organised, hunt down superior locations, get sponsorship and find a terrific production office.

4) Thou shalt spend proper time in pre-production

When budgets are slim you can’t ‘buy’ your way out of a cock up. You need to plan, plan and more.

The week or two before you shoot is pretty crucial. If you have a well-oiled and organised approach, this time will help you make sure that whatever freebies, and cheap deals you have managed to gather will serve you to the fullest and not be wasted. Make sure you have the legal angles covered as well.

5) Thou shalt understand the shoot and exploit it to maximum advantage

Shooting on film, or Red, or another HD format can be intimidating and expensive if approached incorrectly. Choose the camera that fits your story, and your budget. Understand the workflows through the entire production process and make sure everyone on your team agrees – from camera person to editor.

6) Thou shalt not fix it in Post-Production

You can fix it in post, but it’s expensive. Make sure your editor has a voice before and during the shoot, thus avoiding costly pick-up shots.
Read: How film directors screw editors

7) Thou shalt clear all music in your film

No music clearance means that you can’t show your film in most film festivals. It also means you can’t sell your film.
Read: Clearing music for independent films

8) Thou shalt prepare professional publicity and marketing materials

‘Nuff Said: Read the 7 Essentials Of A Press Kit

9) Thou shalt use film festivals to launch your film

Film festivals are the new theatrical releases. Pick and choose the film festivals that get behind your film. We are pretty certain Raindance has launched more film careers than any other British film festival – but we aren’t the only good festival in the UK.
Read: World’s Top 100 Film Festivals
Read: The 4 Reasons To Attend Film Festivals

10) Thou shalt create a distribution strategy

Until you can picture the acquisition executive of a distribution company, and imagine the poster and marketing campaign the marketing manager needs to put together, it is unlikely you will sell your film.

Share your 10 commandments

List your important top 10 in the comments box below.

About 

Elliot Grove is the founder of Raindance Film Festival and the British Independent Film Awards. He has produced over 700 hundred short films and also five feature films, including the multi-award-winning The Living and the Dead in 2006, Deadly Virtues in 2013 and AMBER in 2017. He teaches screenwriting and producing in the UK, Europe, Asia and America.

Raindance trailer 2017

Elliot has written three books which have become industry standards: Raindance Writers’ Lab: Write + Sell the Hot Screenplay, now in its second edition, Raindance Producers’ Lab: Lo-To-No Budget Filmmaking and Beginning Filmmaking: 100 Easy Steps from Script to Screen (Professional Media Practice).

In 2009 he was awarded a PhD for services to film education.

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