Post-Production | Step Six – 7 Important Steps to Making A Low Budget Film

Spread the love

Post-Production – Can you make a feature film on an ultra-low budget? There will be critics out there telling you that you can’t make a film on a low budget! It’s impossible to do, and it will turn out horribly if you try!

Making a feature film on a low budget is not easy. Some moments during the film production may cause you to have a mental breakdown and throw everything you created into a huge bonfire and watch it burn. 

But don’t let that stop you from chasing your dreams and completing a film project.

This is the sixth article in my series of the 7 steps to making a film on a low budget; I will discuss, in separate posts, steps that filmmakers should do to make a successful film regardless of the budget.

In this post, we will discuss the topic of post-production.  How To Put everything together to create your final film. 

If you have missed any of the steps to making a low budget film before reading this post, you can click one of the following posts below:

post-production
Peek At This is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Post-Production

post-production

Now you survived either your fast-paced 5-day, 21-day, or intermittent shooting of your film, and you are now ready to take a deep breath and say to yourself “Is it over now?

You have put in countless amount of hours organizing, stressing, and striving to get every shot the way you wanted it. Pat yourself on the back and celebrate with your cast and crew on a job well done. 

Now you are onto the final stretch of putting all the pieces of the puzzle together to create a film that matches your original vision at the beginning.

If you shot your film on a digital camera, you will have quite a bit of video and sound files in your portable hard drives that you will be piecing together to make magic happen.

So what can you expect from post-production? It all depends on how much footage you shot, all the shot scenes had a decent about of coverage captured, what look you want your film to look like, and how much skill you have in an editing suite.

Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?

Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, James Cameron, and more.

Editing

Editing is the biggest part of the post-production process. But you have to ask yourself whether you have the skills and time to edit yourself, or will you look for someone willing to edit your project for free. 

Editing takes time, and if you can find someone with creative narrative editing skills that believes in your project and will do you a favor, then you are on your way. 

But, if you find an eager film student or editor who only edits only corporate work and wants to do something more creative, your film shouldn’t be an experiment for someone to play within their free time.

So, you might have to factor a cost of an editor in your budget to have your project put together right. 

Edit Yourself

post-production

Unless you can afford an editor for post-production work, who can devote the time and effort to editing your project to match your vision, you might want to edit the project yourself. 

In the past, I have outsourced two of my projects to people I believed would be able to finish my project on time for festival submission season, and I missed the deadlines each time.

I’ve edited two of my films in the past because they were 48-hour film festival submissions, and I couldn’t put the trust in someone to edit the films in such a tight time frame. Mind you; I hate editing because it takes dedication and time to do it well. 

During the production stage, you are following your schedule to make sure you completed the film shoot within the scheduled plan. But with editing, if you don’t plan out your schedule on what to edit and when you want the project to be completed, it might never get finished. 

If you don’t know how to edit, there are fantastic free online tutorials on youtube, that can teach you the basics of editing with software like AdobeFinal Cut Pro, or Davinci Resolve that can help you learn to edit. Just watch, learn, practice, and with a little patience, you can complete the editing yourself.

Sound

post-production

As with your video footage, you will have sound files that you will need to clean up, and then match to your video files. You can outsource your sound design and mix to a professional, but you will probably pay a pretty penny to get them on board. You can also find a willing volunteer to do the mixing and design for free, just make sure they are committed to a timeline you set for completion.

During the rough edit of your project, try to make note of any dialogue that might need to be re-recorded due to noises in the background when you were shooting and can’t be removed. 

There are fantastic programs you can use to remove unwanted sounds from dialogue, including Adobe’s Audition which comes integrated with Premiere Pro for your post-production mixing.

But there are certain limits on what can be achieved with this type of software. 

From editing a film called “In The End” that I produced, there were scenes from an air conditioning unit that was running in the background. While the low hum or some clicks could be fixed with Adobe’s audition, the overbearing air conditioner sound that was happening from time to time was just too loud to eliminate with the software. 

If the dialogue is being drummed out by the background noises, you might want to get the actors in to do ADR (automated dialogue replacement).

Music

With music in post-production, you should find a volunteer in your area looking for experience to do music for you. There are plenty of aspiring composers and musicians online, ready to get involved in a film project. 

In my experience, composers can be more dependable than other members of the crew when it comes to volunteering. 

If you can find a composer for your film, you can also find music already written on YouTube and Soundcloud. Just spend some time browsing and see if you can find something suitable. But, most of these options come with a small fee attached in order for you to use them in your film

Just make sure you credit the sources in your end credits, if not, you might run into a legal situation if your film finds a distributor.

Want to Learn More About Filmmaking?

Become a better filmmaker with the MasterClass Annual Membership. Gain access to exclusive video lessons taught by film masters, including Martin Scorsese, David Lynch, Spike Lee, Jodie Foster, James Cameron, and more.

Avoid CGI At All Costs

CGI can be used as a simple enhancement, such as adding layers of fog to the skyline or adding skyscrapers to enhance a city layout. If done correctly, it can also be used to create otherworldly things and push the limits of film.

But If CGI is poorly executed, it can make the image look bad. Plus, it will cost more money for your production because you need to pay someone skilled in special effects.

I hate CGI for multiple reasonsit’s unrealistic, it’s overused, it’s used when it’s not needed, it’s ugly as f*ck in a lot of movies, and it doesn’t look that cool unless it’s from Marvel.

Deliverables

If you intend to sell the film to a sales agent, there will be some deliverables that will be needed. While these can be intimidating as you read them, if you have an assistant learning the film processes from beginning to end, they can help you complete the list. 

This is just an example of a typical list of deliverables for a distributed Indie film. Keep in mind that these are just examples, and they can be different from distributor to distributor.

Here is a typical list of deliverables for a distributed Indie film. 

  1. The entire film high res version 
  2. The entire film Prores 4444 version 
  3. The entire film h.264 version 
  4. The films LtRt / LoRo mix for each reel and the full-length version
  5. The music LtRt / LoRo mix for each reel and the full-length version. 
  6. The SFX/Foley/production sound – fully loaded M&E LtRt / LoRo mix for each reel and full length version. 8 
  7. The dialogue LtRt / LoRo mix for each reel and full length version
  8.  The 5.1 mix full-length version 
  9. The 5.1 music mix full-length version 
  10. The 5.1 sfx/Foley/production sound – fully loaded M&E full-length version. 
  11. A bunch of behind the scene videos with the same break down of audio files 
  12. Creation of title cards for all of the behind-the-scenes videos 
  13. All the music on a CD fully documented 
  14. All the perfect timecode data list of every word spoken in the film (for foreign dubbing)
  15. All the timecode data for all the reels 
  16. The poster and all graphic elements 
  17. Every contract/document and silly piece of paper for the lawyers to play with. 
  18. The chain of title/copyright information 
  19. Full credits ( this movie has a lot ) list 
  20. At least one trailer with all the associated audio breakouts 
  21. At least 50 behind the scenes stills 
  22. At least 50 production ( in front of the camera ) stills 
  23. Both DISK DRIVE and TAPE-based versions of all the Videos and film
  24. Lists of just about everything you can think of and all the other bits and parts that are on the various distributor lists.

And there’s more. I know, it sounds insane, right? And you probably were thinking that shooting a feature film for almost nothing was going to be easy. 

Every Distributor is somewhat different. They will tell you what you need to deliver. You may. or may not, have any say in the deliverable list and format required. If you plan for high-resolution delivery, you can always reduce… It becomes rather difficult to up-res if required.

Summary

While all the parts of film production are necessary, post-production is a significant turning point in any movie or film. This editing process has the power to bring any film to its full potential, so it resonates with the audience. With the right editing skills, editing tools, and a post-production checklist, you can be well on your way to a powerful, cohesive film. 

In the next and final article, I’ll talk about Step Seven: Marketing. The final step is possibly the one least thought about by low-to-no-budget filmmakers when they set out to shoot their movie. But this step is possibly the most difficult – how do you market a no-budget film? 

If you liked this article, please help me share it via a tweet, stumble, pin, or Facebook share would be much appreciated! 

About the author: Trent (Imdb | Youtube) has spent 10+ years working on an assortment of film and television projects. He writes about his experiences to help (and amuse) others. If he’s not working, he’s either traveling, reading or writing about travel/film, or planning travel/film projects.

Browse the best camera equipment deals available at your favorite retailers:

If you enjoy this series, and want to see more, please buy me a coffee

Buy Me a Coffee

post-production
Amazon cameras
Click Ad >>> Amazon Shop for digital cameras, mirrorless cameras, lenses, drones, sports & action cameras, and more.

If you’re ready to take your filmmaking up a notch, try some of these specialty video production equipment items to get those cool Hollywood-looking shots.

DJI Ronin-SC - Camera Stabilizer, 3-Axis Handheld Gimbal for DSLR and Mirrorless Cameras
Neewer Photography Professional Heavy Duty Tripod Dolly with Rubber Wheels and Adjustable Leg Mounts for Canon Nikon Sony DSLR Cameras Camcorder Photo Video
GOPRO HERO9 Black
Neewer 70 inches/177 Centimeters Aluminum Alloy Jib Arm Camera Crane
Insta360 PRO 8K 360 Spherical VR Camera, Professional 360 Camera
DJI FPV Combo

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Skip to content
%d bloggers like this: