I directed my first play on a budget of $25. I didn’t even have money to buy lumber for the set. As weeks went by and it became clear that the promised wood was never going to arrive my brother dismantled sets from previous shows and with bits and scraps of pieces built one of the most amazing stages I or my mentor have ever seen in community theatre.
So many times community theatre gets caught in a mindset of not being able to produce a musical on less than $25,000. They can’t do Beauty and the Beast without wires. There are theatres with so much money they can do anything, but all they use it on is special effects. My mentor and I watch them and shake our heads… our plays are better, and our budget is a fraction of theirs. Imagine what we could do with that kind of money! We could win a prize!
Films are the same way. Take any big budget film of today. They could probably cut half of that… today’s audience cares more about the special effects than the actual storyline. But it’s been proved that you can make incredible movies on a fraction of what the big budget ones use. All it takes is a little creativity.
You’re never going to get everything you want, especially if you’re in the freelancing business. Even the professionals have people telling them what they can and cannot do. So the question is this: what are you going to do when something you want falls through? Throw a tantrum at the people who tell you it’s impossible? Or come up with a solution that is not only creative, it’s even better?
Use what you have.
Your tripod breaks during filming. You have three options.
1. Find a plot related reason to film using a shaky camera method so you can get away with using it hand-held.
2. Throw a fit, call off the film and go home.
3. Get some branches and drive your car over, use a sibling’s head, or find some other way of steading the camera without a tripod.
I few months ago I was working on a stop-motion film called “The Battle of the Breakfast Teas.” I had an issue with hanging forks. (I still haven’t resolved the issue, so if you have any ideas let me know.) I asked for help and said that my options were limited to everything you could find in a well-stocked kitchen and workshop. I thought I was pretty well equipped. I have ladles and pinchers, kitchen chairs, saws, duct tape, string, thread, needles, screwdrivers, tripods, and hundreds of other things I can’t even remember let alone name. It was just a logistical issue, surely if we put our heads together we could solve it.
Do you know what one person told me? “No professional would ever limit himself to what can be found around the house.”
Well, if that’s true I have no intentions of being a professional. How I see it is I have two choices:
1. Quit trying to make films because I can’t afford the fancy equipment.
2. Find a way to make the film without fancy equipment.
If anyone ever tells you to take the first option never take a particle of advice from that person again. They’re handing you a recipe for failure. Yes, there are proven methods that are better than others. But there are also methods that have never been tried.
Test your boundaries. Dare to prove them wrong. Attempt the impossible. We’re caught in a world of absolutes; of possibles and impossibles. But they don’t really exist. Look around you, see what you have and what you can do with it. You can make a better film on $200 than most people can make on $200,000. All it takes is creativity, and dedication.
Your mind is your greatest tool. See what you have, and use it. Seize the opportunity and never look back.