7 Ways to Save Money on Film Equipment When Making a Movie

save money film equipment making movie

Completing an entire film is the holy grail of filmmaking. Many directors and writers have ideas, but actually executing them takes courage, patience, and a budget. 

But you don't need a Hollywood budget to get your film finished. Check out these 7 tips on how you can save on your film equipment when shooting a movie. 

1. Research Film Equipment 

The first thing you need to do when making a movie is to research the film equipment it takes to get the looks you want. Everyone knows about the basics, but when you start getting into tricky shots or trying to add in special effects, you might be going beyond what you want to spend. 

But then again, it might be more affordable than you think. In fact, you can rent some equipment from a Philadelphia Grip and Electric company for your needs. You won't know until you start researching various movies that include scenes that mirror what you're trying to create. 

2. Rewrite the Script 

Script rewrites are impossible to avoid. You need to trim the fat to make sure you're not wasting money on film equipment. 

Never use two camera crews to make a scene work when one camera crew can tell the same story. Big movies use multiple teams to save budget because they're cutting back on time. 

On low budget projects, it's easier to find a dedicated crew and keep the concept simple so you don't spread yourself too thin. Don't get too emotionally attached to the script. 

Be ready and willing to make cuts to the length, omit scenes or change dialogue actors don't feel comfortable with. 

3. Idea Mining 

Another way to save on film equipment is to watch other low budget films that were commercial or artistic success. What did these films do that worked? 

What did they do that didn't' work? You aren't obligated to save money where it could hurt your film artistically. 

But you don't need to reinvent the wheel either. Someone has created the look or effect you wanted in another project. 

You might find better shots or composition in films that go beyond what you had in mind. Don't be afraid to gather ideas from other films that help you maintain your train of thought. 

What you are imagining could be brilliant, but there is no reason not to kick it up a notch if the opportunity presents itself. 

4. Use Green Screen 

Familiarize yourself with the use of a green screen. It's going to be tough to get good shots if you don't give yourself enough time to practice. Take a green screen tutorial course to help you better understand how to plan out visual effects. 

There are lighting styles and composition notes you'll need in order to get realistic-looking visual effects. Guard against shooting outdoors when you can shoot indoors. 

It does cost more money to light a green screen inside, but you have an easier time flattening out the backdrop. It's important to shoot against a flat backdrop so you don't have shadows or imperfections showing on your green screen. 

These imperfections are nearly impossible to fix it in post and make keying out your subject much more intense. You'll end up with backgrounds that don't look believable or talent that appears to be floating in mid-air. 

Both are distracting. Look professional by getting your green screen ready for the big leagues with a basic visual effects course. 

5. Barter 

Mining for crew on an independent project is tough. If you don't have close personal relationships with other filmmakers, most people will want to be paid for their time. 

You can save money on equipment by bartering with crew members. Give people an option to use your services in the future in exchange for their service on your film. 

You'd be surprised how many other independent film crew members have their own ideas but lack the talent or time to see it through. If you've got great organization and dealmaking skills, offer to produce. 

If you can write a great shooting script, offer to translate their ideas into a screenplay. As a filmmaker, you have many ways to help out a fellow filmmaker. 

It's ok to put stipulations on what you're offering. You don't have to commit to a three month project working for free if you're only asking someone to hop on your project for a few days. 

6. Bearable Working Conditions 

People are much more willing to offer help to your film if you're working in a comfortable environment. If they're in the middle of a rainforest with little water or snacks in the hot humidity, they're not going to want to return for a second day. 

If you can choose locations that make working a 10 hour day a breeze, then you'll have an easier time crewing up and getting the right film equipment. Even with insurance, you don't want a difficult location where it's tough to protect the equipment you're using. 

Make sure you have a plan in place to protect people and equipment if the weather suddenly goes awry. 

7. Throw in a Freebie 

Every business needs advertising. You can offer up a free commercial or web video to rental houses that give you a discount on film equipment. 

These might be common discounts offered to filmmakers but you should still show some gratitude to build a rapport. Many rental house owners have their own marketing ideas but have little time to execute. 

Swoop in with a turnkey concept film that won't cost a fortune to produce. 

How to Finance a Film 

Getting your first film done with low budget film equipment can work wonders for your career. Submit your film to a film festival to attract the attention of investors. 

This is one of the more common ways indie filmmakers find the financing to make their dreams come true. For more film information and videography tips, visit our business blog for updates.

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