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No Budget Newsletter Issue #3
June 3, 2006

Brought to you by the No Budget Film School:

To subscribe, please visit:


1.  No Budget Film Resources Page
2.  NAB Wrap Up on Web Site
3.  No Budget Films Opening This Summer
4.  Los Angeles Film Festival
5.  Peter Broderick
6.  Third Screen Film Festival
7.  Cutting-Edge Workflow Article, Part 2


I've recently put a No Budget Film Resources page on my web site.  These are hand-picked links and resources for no-budget filmmakers provided exclusively for No Budget Newsletter subscribers--you can not access this page from anywhere else on the website.  For those of you in my Course 201 class in Los Angeles May 6th, this was included as a handout. Now it's online and I will be updating and adding to it, so you'll want to bookmark:


Also on the web site is the wrap-up report from my recent trip to NAB.  I was looking for tools specifically for the no-budget filmmaker, so while not comprehensive, my wrap-up may be a little more relevant than the ones you'll find elsewhere online or in magazines.

News Archive May 2006


A lot of great no-budget films are opening this summer and fall--many of which I have covered on my site--but you may have trouble finding them without a little help.  It's very tough to compete with the studio's summer P&A juggernaut.  The films I list are not to be missed; all are excellent examples of no-budget filmmaking.  We need to support the theatrical distribution of these films if we are to continue to enjoy this kind of artistic expression on the big screen in the social setting of a crowded movie house.  And of course, we all want people to go out and experience our films on the big screen when the time comes!

* CAVITE   Excellent example of what two talented people can do with a little bit of money and a lot of determination.  See the report on my site and visit the official web site for screenings near you.  "Cavite" had a brisk opening weekend at the Nuart in LA and is now moving to the Landmark Westside Pavilion.  It will be opening in other select cities throughout the summer.

* PUFFY CHAIR  Shot with a three man crew for $15,000, it premiered at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival and is opening June 2nd:

* QUINCEANERA  Not so much a no-budget film as it is a low-budget film, this HD-shot feature won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Sundance, (see my report and the excellent article in the current Filmmaker Magazine).  Opens August 4th in LA and NYC; coming to other cities in August:

* DOGWALKER  This award-winning feature by Filmmakers Alliance founder Jacques Thelemaque features an outstanding and courageous lead performance from FA co-founder Diane Gaidry. The innovative distribution plan includes community building for independent filmmakers, women at risk and cancer survivors, and of course emphasizes the special role animals can play in enriching human lives. "Dogwalker" is being released through Truly Indie and opens in San Francisco August 11th and Los Angeles August 24th. Other cities will be announced shortly.

* WASSUP ROCKERS  Fans of Larry Clark will revel; non-fans may find themselves scratching their heads, especially towards the end.  No-budget filmmakers should all catch this on the big screen just to see how good standard-def 16:9 1/3" chip video can look when it's blown up to 35mm.  I saw this projected on video in Toronto last year, but was surprised to see just how amazing the Canon XL-2 material looked transferred to film when I viewed the trailer recently.  There's an excellent article about the film in the current Filmmaker Magazine.  Made with mostly non-actors (with the hilarious exception of "supermodel" Janice Dickinson), the film opens June 23rd.

* STAY  Students in my May 6th course got the scoop on this hilarious feature from class speaker Marty Pasetta, Jr., the film's producer.  Directed by comedian Bobcat Goldthwait, Stay was the hit of this year's Sundance.  Roadside Attractions is planning a September 29th release.

* CONVENTIONEERS  An excellent relationship and political drama, opening just in time for this fall's critical elections, the film was made for way less than $100k but looks much larger due to its 2004 Republican National Convention back drop, (see my report). Winner of the coveted John Cassevetes Award at this year's Spirit Awards ceremony.  There is no release date yet, but I will let everyone know when and how you can see this film when it opens.  In the meantime, visit the site and view the trailer:

* TWELVE AND HOLDING  From the director of "L.I.E.", this $400k feature premiered at last year's Toronto and is currently playing in select cities.

* THE MOTEL This wonderful little film was virtually ignored at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival, but it is definitely worth seeing.  It opens June 28th.


LAFF doesn't need me to shill for them, and I don't like the idea that I might be shilling for anyone, but I have to say, if  you are an LA resident, you owe it to yourself to get over to the LAFF for some screenings.  Last year there were a number of wonderful no- and low-budget films to partake of.  Seeing them at the festival and staying for the Q&A is a great way to learn how these films got made and to determine what elements are necessary to get accepted into a major film festival and appeal to a festival audience.  While there are many film festivals in Los Angeles, LAFF is arguably the most important, most prestigious, and hopefully this year, the most fulfilling.  Stay tuned to your email--I have a pass and I will report my findings to you.  A no-budget roundup of the films I saw last year is on the site.


OK, I just said I don't like to shill, but there's one person I will happily shill for and that's my former colleague at Next Wave Films, its founder, Peter Broderick.  Peter is now consulting and his insight and skills are second to no one in the area of independent filmmaking.  He's consulted on over 200 films in the last three years and specializes in innovative alternative distribution strategies.  He's just put up a new website:

I encourage you to visit the site (you'll want to read his DGA Magazine article on alternative distribution) and I highly recommend his services if you have a narrative or documentary feature. 


I will soon be teaching my no-budget ethic to a group of Columbia College Chicago students in town for a summer semester in LA and I was made aware of a mobile phone "film festival" Columbia College is sponsoring along with NanoTV. They're taking submissions for short films from all over the country and the winners will be put on Sprint phones. They'll be spending over $100k on advertising and promotion, so it might be a good way to get your name and work out there.  More information can be found on their site:


(This article was written by Mark Stolaroff  in 2005 but never published)

Part 1 of this article can be found on this website.

In a symbolic but telling contrast from the first panel of 15 suit-wearing veterans, the Dust To Glory case study comprised of three young, t-shirt wearing slackers who made their movie with "nickels and pennies" (actually $2 million, but still low for this day).  Their enterprising workflow, the first to employ a compressed HD DI, was inspired by necessity, not by unlimited resources.  It most importantly consisted of using inexpensive desktop tools, namely a PC running Premiere Pro 1.5 and AfterEffects with several exciting plug-ins, to do all their online.  No high-end Avid Nitrus here, the HD conforming weapon of choice for all the other case studies.  Director Dana Brown's documentary covering the brutal Baja 1000 "road" race was shot with over 60 cameras, on a variety of formats (35mm, Super 16mm, 24p HD, 24p MiniDV, and archival elements that included VHS).  Post production guru Jacob Rosenberg, author of Adobe Premiere Pro 1.5 Studio Techniques, was able to do all his conforming, color correction, dust and scratch removal, titling, and element delivery with his BOXX desktop system on their own time, not for $600/hr. at a post house.  Facilities like Laser Pacific and Efilm were used minimally, to perform high-end functions like upconversions and filmout.  The power and simplicity of these tools was exemplified by a demonstration of how they removed a one-frame scratch.  Jacob performed the task on his laptop by cloning a section from the frame before and painting it over the scratch.  It took about one second to fix.  They also demonstrated the potency of their desktop color correction, using an AE plugin called Color Finesse.  The effect was so impressive that it inspired Larry Blake to later comment, "What they were doing on Dust To Glory was totally cool.  On a cool factor, we (Oceans 12) were a one, they were a 240." 

Andy Birch of Dreamworks Animation went through all the steps it took to create Shark Tale in the next presentation, which included slides depicting some of the old-school techniques and how new technologies like proprietary animation and database software and digital audio tools have changed that paradigm.  One interesting revelation was how highly evolved video teleconferencing is utilized by the director and producers to communicate with the animators, who are sometimes 600 miles away.  Jonathan Phillips of Dreamworks Animation spent his half of the presentation speaking mostly about how they deliver the movie so effectively to foreign-language territories.  He revealed that they were able to open a film like Shark Tale in 35 territories day and date because of Pro Tools software and of the broad acceptance of OMF as a standard.  Seven years ago when he started at Dreamworks, that standard was 35mm mag.

The folks on the Finding Neverland panel, Steve Smith, the DI colorist from Efilm, and Cory McCrum-Abdo, a post production supervisor, revealed that Finding Neverland was one of the first DI's done, back in 2002, but that the film was not released until 2004.  Efilm claims to have done more DI's than any other company and Terra Bliss, Neverland's DI producer for Efilm, has been involved with 17 of them.  Most of this discussion was spent talking about changes, adjustments and additions that were made to the light and color in the DI suite, and clips were shown to illustrate.  For instance, Scott was able to compensate for England's unpredictable weather by adding shadows on the sides of faces in order to make a cloudy day look like a sunny one.

The most detailed account of the modern digital work flow on a big budget film came from the Oceans 12 people in the final case study of the day.  Larry Blake, Terra Bliss and Technicolor's Greg Ciaccio explained how Oceans 12 became the first 4K DI, no small feat when you consider the amount of data created in a 4K scan-each frame is a 50 MB file (compared to 12 MB in a 2K scan).  That adds up to around 10 Terabytes (TB) of data for the final Oceans 12 cut.  Technicolor Worldwide provided Soderberg with HD dailies utilizing their HD Dailies on Demand service.  The film was shot on 35mm and all that footage was transferred on a Spirit (at 2K) and output simultaneously to D5 for dailies and Digibeta for editorial.  A Random Access Playback server played the HD dailies back on a cinema grade 2K DLP projector, much like the one utilized in our seminar.  Soderberg was able to check for critical focus and see emotional details without having to print any film.  After the 2nd cut of the film, the selected negative was assembled, spliced with 8 frame handles, sonically cleaned and delivered to Efilm for 4K scanning on their Imagica Imager XE Advanced scanner.  The material was then conformed to the current cut list and after some 250 picture changes were made, and all visual effects, inserts and opticals were added, the material was color corrected using Efilm's proprietary color correction system designed by Color Front.  The final 4K corrected cut was recorded out to film at a rate of approximately 5 seconds per frame. Six Estar negatives were made for creating prints, meaning that all 6,000 prints struck were first generation.  The process from scanning to first negative took only five weeks. 

Leon Silverman of Laser Pacific pointed out that for most of the last 100 years, there was never any mention of "work flow."  Everything was done the same way on every film and that knowledge was passed down from master to apprentice.  Today, as this seminar made painfully clear, this knowledge changes every day and many times the apprentice knows more about the coming technology than the master.  These technological changes and advancements are sometimes intimidating, but according to the people taking advantage of them today, they are helping filmmakers achieve the emotional results they are looking for.

(Author's Note:  Jacob Rosenberg was a speaker in my first class and was recently working the Adobe booth at this year's NAB.  Following is a recent interview with Jacob regarding what he calls the "desktop DI".


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