As we’ve been in the process of making a ‘micro-budget’ short film, I have been thinking about the viability of such ventures. I know it’s possible to work like we have been working – with volunteer cast and crew and donated locations and gear. And I believe our film, structured, scripted, planned, and all that, will benefit from the approach.
This article, published a while back on Filmmaker Magazine’s blog, makes the argument that micro-budget filmmakers should embrace an alternative approach that emphasizes the discovery of stories that flow from real life, rather than struggling to come up with the perfect screenplay.
… if our goal as micro-budget filmmakers is to make films free of budget restrictions, we need to find alternative methods that embrace the places we live, allow us to believe they are interesting, and trust the people around us to bring us some really interesting material. We all know this familiar adage: life is stranger than fiction. Once we let life leak into our narratives, I think we will be shocked at the abundance we suddenly have with the stories that are available.
I have a lot of experience in documentary filmmaking so I can appreciate the freedom and excitement of seeing stories unfold in the process of making a film. And I can see the author’s point that taking this approach can get filmmakers away from the computer and into the real process of making something. There is a part of me that does sometimes want to just pick up a camera and see what happens.