Creating A Self-Produced Low Budget Indie Video

photo of man touching his head

We personally have never worked on a creative project where the situation was ideal. We always find ourselves walking into challenging and less than ideal circumstances (finances, locations, etc.), and because of that we have had to learn to be quick problem solvers in order to make the best of what is given. But more importantly, as a Christian it also makes us rely and depend more on God than we might have a tendency to do otherwise.

The logistics of creating a self-produced low budget indie video project
The Unfortunate Dating Diaries was a self-produced project, so my sister Renee and I did everything. From writing, producing, casting, pre-production, planning, filming, and post production. We did all of this while we both worked full time jobs. It would have been a little more manageable if we would have had more time to film this, but we could only afford to bring the actors for one day of filming, so filming 18 pages of script in one day with only two crew members proved to be the greatest challenge.

When you self-produce a project, you have to learn to be more creative to create a decent project while working within your means. The majority of our budget went towards trying to take care of the actors, which as filmmakers we believe is very important. The remaining budget went towards equipment and post-production software. It’s been over 10 years since we last attempted filmmaking, so we had to obtain some of the basics so we could pull this off.

We knew going into this that we were not going to have the most ideal locations, equipment, or time to work with, but we didn’t want to use any of that as an excuse. The final product is far from perfect, we made plenty of technical and filmmaking errors along the way. But I can honestly say we gave it our best shot.

Below you can see some of the basic equipment used and the logistics behind this Christian video project. We did not have high level cinema cameras to work with on this project. The cameras we used are made more for photography but even in the photography field they are considered beginner cameras.

Cameras Used for Filming
-Canon rebel t3i ($300-500)
-Canon SL2 ($300-600)

Audio Recording
-Zoom H4n Pro handheld mic ($170)

Lighting (We only used 3 lights for this project)
-Lowel Tota-Light Softbox Kit 38″ x 38″ ($185.00)
-Lowel Softbox 24″ x 24″ ($150)
-1 small ring light ($150)

The logistics, limitations, and challenges:
-Filmed 18 pages of script in one day (8am-6pm).
-Only used 2 filming locations.
-Kept lighting setups simple due to time and space constraints.
-Renee and I were the only two crew members for this project.
-One of our locations was a home built from a metal framed building…and it started raining which can make it sound quite loud. Sometimes, you have to understand you can’t make things perfect due to project constraints/limitations, but you do the best you can and leave it in God’s hands.
-Our dad helped with transportation and our mom helped with meal planning and prep.
-We had one lady help with makeup for roughly an hour before we started filming.

Two Person Crew
Renee and I worked as a team on every aspect of this project but these are the areas that we were each in charge of.

Renee’s jobs:
Assistant Director
Camera Operator
Set and Production Design
Prop Coordinator
Wardrobe Director
Location Coordinator
Photo Retouching for Poster and Banner Designs
Frame by Frame Video Repair Editing
Script Consultant and Contributing Writer

Lance’s jobs:
Camera Operator
Casting Director
Schedule Coordinator
Post Production Editor
Poster and Banner Design
Script Writer
Website Design

Lessons Learned
Even though this project was a logistical challenge and we made plenty of gaffes; in the end it was worth it. Even if it doesn’t get “millions” of views, it wasn’t a waste of our time and efforts. We learned a lot and it forced us out of our comfort zones. Regardless of how it is received by viewers, it’s better to have tried and failed, then to never have given it a shot. At the end of the day we just thank God for the opportunity.

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