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No Budget Newsletter Issue #10
March 26, 2009

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1. Next Class Scheduled!
2. No Budget Film School At Filmmakers Alliance
3. Spring Reading - Filmmaking Books You Should Know About
4. Who The Hell Is Jody Hill?
5. Shooting "Crank 2" on Family Cam

Dear Filmmakers,

No Budget Film School is back in action! After taking the better part of a year developing, prepping and then shooting my new no-budget feature, "Pig," I am finally putting my Instructor hat back on while we are in post production. In addition to freshening up the content on my website, (not the design of the website--that still looks like 1995!), and putting out this newsletter after a long hiatus, I have scheduled a new class in Los Angeles. "The Art & Science of No-Budget Filmmaking", my two-day no-budget filmmaking immersion is scheduled for May 30 & 31, 2009. More on that below. If you've been wanting to make a film and wondering how to do it with the little money you have access to, this is the class to take. I have some great speakers and after shooting this latest feature, a few new tricks up my sleeve, as well as some hard-learned new lessons. .



After a long hiatus, No Budget Film School is back and better than ever. I will be teaching my two-day no-budget filmmaking immersion, "The Art & Science of No Budget Filmmaking" on May 30 & 31, 2009 in Los Angeles at Raleigh Studios. I will be joined by some excellent guest speakers:

Don't Miss Kiss

PETER BRODERICK (President, Paradigm Consulting). Considered one of the world's leading authorities on alternative distribution strategy. Peter was the founder and president of Next Wave Films, the finishing funds company that discovered filmmakers like Chris Nolan and Joe Carnahan. He now consults with hundreds of filmmakers all over the world on unique and powerful distribution strategies that take advantage of the new tools and new thinking in this New World of Distribution.

JAY DUPLASS (Director, "The Puffy Chair," "Baghead"). One half of the filmmaking duo the Duplass Brothers, with brother Mark. The $15,000 "Puffy Chair" was a cult hit following their 2005 Sundance premiere, garnering theatrical distribution and picking up several film festival awards. Their follow-up, the similarly tiny-budgeted "Baghead," premiered at the 2008 Sundance and was picked up for theatrical distribution by Sony Pictures Classics. Jay is currently finishing principal photography on a new $10 million feature for Fox Searchlight, starring Marisa Tomei, John C. Reilly, Johah Hill, and Catherine Keener.

ALEX HOLDRIDGE (Director, "In Search Of A Midnight Kiss"). Alex's hilarious comedy "Midnight Kiss" was shot for $15k all over Los Angeles the way I like to do it--without a permit! After playing several top festivals, it was picked up for domestic distribution by IFC Films and was also sold to several territories overseas. It recently was awarded the coveted Cassavetes Award at the 2009 Spirit Awards, given to the best feature made for under $500k.

MATT RADECKI (Producer; Director; Founder, Different By Design). Matt has produced numerous low-budget features (including Sundance winner "TV Junkie") and runs the post house Different By Design which caters to independent filmmakers working on all budget levels. Matt has particular expertise with the new tapeless workflows like RED and XDCAM.

More guest speakers and other goodies to be announced soon. For more information and to register, please visit the website:

And join our new Facebook Group to catch updates as they happen:

No Budget Film School Facebook Group


For those of you who live in LA and want a free preview of the class, I will be giving a presentation entitled "No Budget, No Problem - An Introduction To Successful No-Budget Filmmaking" at the Filmmakers Alliance office on Sunday, April 5th. Please visit the Filmmakers Alliance website for details:


I have three filmmaking books to recommend that cover a wide spectrum of topics related to independent filmmaking:

The REAL Truth

• THE REEL TRUTH: Everything You Didn't Know You Need to Know About Making an Independent Film by Reed Martin

Martin, a former exec at Cary Woods' production company and a professor at Columbia University and NYU, has written a one-of-a-kind, exhaustingly researched indie film bible for the first-time filmmaker. Stories from some of the most respected names in independent film, as well as a few of the author's own filmmaking experiences, combine with nuts-and-bolts, practical information on everything from new cameras to how to deal with security and parking on a New York set. His tips are remarkably specific and he addresses many issues most independent filmmakers learn about the hard way. I should know--I contributed a few of my own lessons-learned to the book. The Reel Truth goes on sale in April. Check out the amazing reviews and pre-order it here:
The Real Truth

• BE THE MEDIA by David Mathison

Renowned media consultant and author Mathison has assembled a who's who of new media experts and compiled this essential guide to the "personal media renaissance." Until recently, publishing books, music and film required years of education and the expensive assistance of publishers, labels, studios, distributors and lawyers. Today, artists can leverage low-cost tools and new methods of distribution to connect with their audience directly, and keep more of their royalties and rights. This book covers everything from how to blog and podcast to the ins and outs of social networking and internet syndication. Specific chapters help authors, musicians, and filmmakers, (yours truly contributed to this chapter).


This book answers most every question a short or feature filmmaker asks when they're ready to start down that difficult festival trail. B-Side Entertainment exec and film festival insider Holland gives you the candid, honest dope on a whole host of topics: selecting the right festival for your film, preparing your festival screener, saving money on festival fees, creating marketing collateral, crafting a screening sell-out plan, and much more. What's the second best thing about this book? IT'S FREE! Follow the links and download your free copy. I did it myself.


Jody Hill at No Budget Film School

Jody Hill speaking at No Budget Film School
One of the first things I cover in my class are the differences between no-budget independent filmmaking and studio filmmaking. I argue that the two are in alternate universes, where the opposite rules apply to each discipline, (credit where credit is due--Peter Broderick came up with this comparison when we were at Next Wave Films). One such difference is that no-budget filmmaking is about launching careers, while studio filmmaking is about sustaining careers. This is an important and key difference, and understanding what this means will influence the kind of film you choose to make in each universe. While generally speaking, studios tend to produce safe, run-of-the-mill, broader-audience, commercial films (for obvious reasons), filmmakers attempting to launch their careers with no-budget films need to do everything but that. Your films need to be bold, unique, and niche. You need to take risks and make something that will differentiate you from every other guy or girl with a camera, (which will soon be everyone--with a cell phone). If you're trying to figure out how to make a crowd-pleasing, safe, commercial film for $10,000, you are doomed to failure. Believe me, I've seen literally hundreds of these films, and it's never pretty.

So even if your little no-budget film doesn't make you a buck, if it gets you to the next level--hopefully the ability to make another film on someone else's dollar--then you have succeeded. So while you may not have heard of Jody Hill or seen his $70,000 shot-on-credit cards subversive comedy "The Foot Fist Way"--which premiered in the Midnight section of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival and nearly disappeared after that, until a half-assed distribution effort last year by Paramount Vantage before they called it quits--that's not important. Will Ferrell saw it and loved it and now Jody has a show currently running on HBO, ("Eastbound & Down") and a $30 million studio comedy starring Seth Rogen coming soon to a theater near you, ("Observe And Report").

(Incidentally, Jody was a guest speaker in my October 2006 class).


Look at all those cameras!

Ok, I'm really pissed at no-budget filmmakers! Why did it take so long and a studio film, no less, to figure out that it would be really cool to shoot an action film with tiny consumer cameras. This idea was proposed to me about eight or nine years ago by an established indie producer who was starting a production company that was going to take advantage of all the cheap digital cameras that were coming onto the market, and make action films where you would put these cameras in all kinds of crazy places--grill of a car, on objects falling from buildings or flying through the air. Who cared if you destroyed a few along the way--they were cheap, and think of the shots you'd get! But then that company never happened and now years later I read all about how "Crank 2" (the sequel to "Crank" - get it?), used dozens of tiny HD consumer cameras, including the Canon XH A1 (a $3,000 camera), the Canon VIXIA HF10 (a $950 camera), and the slightly higher-end Sony EX1 (a $6,000 camera, used for slow motion work). The A1 is an HDV camera shooting on miniDV tape, while the HF10 shoots AVCHD on tiny SD memory cards. One scene was shot with 15 HF10's, five A1's, and one EX1--at the same time--hidden all over the room. The coolest aspect of the shoot was how they moved these cameras, attaching them to cheap store-bought rigs, (like Manfrotto's $300 Fig Rig), or their own home-made rigs, (see picture). No dolly or Steadicam was used on this film--they often rollerbladed with the camera in hand. This is a $20 million studio film, people! If they can do it, you can do it too. Say "no" to expensive cameras and tape formats! Read 27 year-old DP Brandon Trost's interview in the current issue of HD Video Pro magazine. Look for it on newsstands.


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