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35 feature on the cheap?


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Altogether - it was shot for under $10,000.

 

 

Haha, that is so great. I have seen the trailer for this film too, very impressive.

 

 

Where did you get film stock that is that old? Do you recall how much you paid for it?

 

Thanks for the inspiration,

 

Jon

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Thanks for the kind words, Jon.

 

I can't remember exactly, but I think I got all of those recans somewhere in the $2000 range, which would roughly be about $10 a minute. When we wrapped, I had one can left over.

 

For that particular project, I figured every minute of film shot was roughly $50 per minute to buy (and shoot), process, and transfer to DigiBeta. But, of course, most of these were older recans/short-ends, which kept the cost really low (of course, I'd rather shoot with fresh film, or at least a fresher batch of recans, on normal projects). When you can start thinking of things in terms of exact numbers per minute, it really helps you to keep a grip on how much film/money you roll through.

 

The price difference between film formats is minor. If you want to shoot 35mm with recans, and can keep the shooting ratio under 3:1, then the difference between 35mm and 16mm (or even Super8) is extremely low - we're talking only a few thousand dollars... Worth it to shoot 35mm? Maybe, then again, maybe not. Depends on your budget and if you have a director that can keep down the shooting ratio...

 

Three quick thoughts to add for anyone that might consider shooting a 35mm feature:

1) Do about 5 to 10 walk-thrus with the actors and the camera before you even think about rolling a single frame of film.

2) Always roll sound and keep the mic as close to the talent as possible.

3) Blimp the camera. Buy one or make one, but either way - blimp it.

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I bought the HUNTING DRAGONFLIES DVD a couple of years ago. I highly recommend it to any anyone interested in shooting a low budget 35mm Film.

It's a great little movie and some of the exterior Cinematography is really good. Shows what the Konvas can really do.

I would also recommend SOMETHING MISSIE IN THE LIFE OF JORDAN SPARKS another 35mm low budget film shot on the Konvas. The Cinematography in SOMETHING MISSIE is excellent, some very nice low key work.

After seeing Hunting Dragonflies I was so inspired I bought my own Konvas 2m kit!

 

Toby

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Thanks for the kind words, Jon.

 

I can't remember exactly, but I think I got all of those recans somewhere in the $2000 range, which would roughly be about $10 a minute. When we wrapped, I had one can left over.

 

For that particular project, I figured every minute of film shot was roughly $50 per minute to buy (and shoot), process, and transfer to DigiBeta. But, of course, most of these were older recans/short-ends, which kept the cost really low (of course, I'd rather shoot with fresh film, or at least a fresher batch of recans, on normal projects). When you can start thinking of things in terms of exact numbers per minute, it really helps you to keep a grip on how much film/money you roll through.

 

The price difference between film formats is minor. If you want to shoot 35mm with recans, and can keep the shooting ratio under 3:1, then the difference between 35mm and 16mm (or even Super8) is extremely low - we're talking only a few thousand dollars... Worth it to shoot 35mm? Maybe, then again, maybe not. Depends on your budget and if you have a director that can keep down the shooting ratio...

 

Three quick thoughts to add for anyone that might consider shooting a 35mm feature:

1) Do about 5 to 10 walk-thrus with the actors and the camera before you even think about rolling a single frame of film.

2) Always roll sound and keep the mic as close to the talent as possible.

3) Blimp the camera. Buy one or make one, but either way - blimp it.

 

I agree about the price difference being minor, it really is all about preparation and being creative. I was debating about 35 or super 16mm for a while but ultimately settled on shooting in super 16. It is slightly more affordable to buy and you are really getting twice the takes for your money. However, I think 35mm is really just as viable for ultra low budget filmmaking, and if you factor in the "impressiveness" that surrounded films like El Mariachi and Primer, shooting on 35 would only boost your legend. I just hope I don't regret not putting my money into a 35 set-up when I am watching the dailies. Of course I could always shoot a 35 film over 2 or 3 weeks with a cheap rental.

 

Anyway, hopefully some other people on this forum have their own filmmaking stories to share, frugal or not. Either way, your film is one of the most legendary frugal filmmaking attempts I have ever heard of.

 

What lenses did you shoot on? Did you own them too? Lomos?

 

Thanks,

 

Jon

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Three quick thoughts to add for anyone that might consider shooting a 35mm feature:

1) Do about 5 to 10 walk-thrus with the actors and the camera before you even think about rolling a single frame of film.

2) Always roll sound and keep the mic as close to the talent as possible.

3) Blimp the camera. Buy one or make one, but either way - blimp it.

 

 

Adam,

 

Just bought a copy through your website!

 

Thanks,

 

Jon

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............ and Kubrick could have made something great with a K-3. It's up to you and not your wallet.

Jon

Absolute Ditto's on everything you said.........and we've all seen the stills of Kubrick shooting "A Clockwork Orange" with his eye glued to an Arri 2C - which is better but not a huge amount more than a K3 for MOS.

 

For the bedroom editors, AVID has a deal right now for a student version of Xpress DV for $395, search for Xpress Free (now discontinued) on their website and you'll be linked to the offer. I bought Xpress DV 3.5 and received offers over the past couple of years for upgrades that now has me on the latest version of Xpress DV Pro HD (plus add-ons like Sorenson and ReelDVD) for less than $1000 total out of pocket, AVID loves to send you upgrade offers with really good bargain prices after you've bought something initially. Another AVID hint, several of the earlier high end Sony miniDV consumer camcorders are directly supported by Xpress. For instance: I've got a TRV30 that plugs up to my computer's Firewire connection and is fully remote controlled by AVID as if it were a miniDV deck which makes capture and layback easy jobs.

 

The idea of shooting and editing in miniDV first then using the edited version as a storyboard is quite good. One of our Forum members edited (as described to me "rescued", not edited might be a more apt description) a miniDV feature for someone in the past and now is in negotiations to reshoot it in 35mm with a budget larger than any quoted here.

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  • 1 month later...

As Dave correctly said, I did shoot a 35mm micro budget feature (currently seeking distribution). I directed, co-produced, shot, edited, did sound work, and a number of other things. Very exhausting, took us 5 years.

 

I shot with an Arri IIc using the old stock Cooke lenses (an Eyemo was used for a few scenes), nearly everything was done MOS and post dubbed later. It was a pretty dialog intense film, so getting everyone in the dubbing chair took time.

 

I shot most of it on the now nearly defunct 5279.

 

What I like about shooting 35mm:

 

1) Shortends are overall a better bargain than with 16mm.

2) Processing per foot can in some labs be cheaper than 16mm (even though it's twice the footage per minute).

3) No difference in transfer costs.

4) 500 asa film is fine, pushing one stop is survivable.

5) Dust is smaller.

6) A bit easier and more foolproof to thread.

7) It's 35 dammit!

 

What I didn't like:

 

1) Using a heavier, noisier camera which stands out more if you're shooting w/o a permit, unlike a Bolex which you can hide in your coat (even the olive colored Eyemo can look like a friggin BOMB or weapon to a security person).

2) Being more worried about focus.

3) Having to reload the mag more often.

4) Having loads of film cans taking up space at home.

5) Slow motion being a bigger issue (the Arri II can't really do it, and the cameras that can are either very bulky or are wicked expensive).

 

People who shoot a film on a 2:1 ratio are not going to get good results. I started by thinking I'd do that, but my ratio ended up being about 7:1. Even the lab manager (at the late great Lab Link) said that independents almost always shoot more than they plan they will. If you want to learn about filmmaking, don't skimp on coverage - you will find that you're going to have to go back and reshoot otherwise, or will have to shoot stupid cutaways that mean nothing but are necessary to cover things up, or will have to live with bad shots/performances/cuts. On a good day I'd get a 4:1 or 5:1 coverage. A few scenes I did 2.5:1, but I don't like to take chances.

 

The biggest problem will be a camera of course. Shooting MOS and post dubbing is a major pain, but for us the only other option would be to either get the Arri blimp (a beast that makes the camera weigh 100 lbs and makes operating the camera tough), or to get a Mitchell BNCR which weighs over 100 lbs and is just huge. The BL 1 was out of our budget range, now they're going for a little less than before the HD craze hit. And if we went sync, we'd have to deflect at least $1000 for sound equipment that would produce anything worthwhile, and find a competent soundman.

 

Anyway, good luck. A first time film is a major crap shoot, your biggest achievement is not being majorly succesful with it but getting it actually finished and distributed (even self-distributed, if it is necessary to do so). If you manage to do that PLUS make your money back, consider yourself very, very fortunate. And if you get major festival recognition and a distributor wants to push you all the way, well that's like winning the powerball jackpot.

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P.S. In essence with first time features in particular, someone often starts by saying something like "I can plan this out real careful and do it with the same money I'd use to buy a car". In reality, what happens is that you start shooting, you get the dailies back, you start editing, and begin to see certain mistakes, problems, and also at the same time get ideas, etc. Your money will run out because nothing ever goes as planned, and then you put it on the shelf until you raise more and can start shooting again (or you eventually just give up because you feel you've made too many mistakes and don't want to bother fixing them because your morale is shot). Eventually you get it to some stage of completeness and show it around. You may get a sale, you may raise money for finishing it (which requires legal work), or it may sit indefinitely on a shelf. Thus is the life of a first time flick, if you're self sponsored...

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  • 2 years later...

I have 6460 feet of 35mm Kodak 5279 film. Willing to sell for $300 because the stock is discontinued. Has been temperature controlled and in great shape. Located in Hollywood. Let me know if you're interested.

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The biggest problem will be a camera of course. Shooting MOS and post dubbing is a major pain, but for us the only other option would be to either get the Arri blimp (a beast that makes the camera weigh 100 lbs and makes operating the camera tough), or to get a Mitchell BNCR which weighs over 100 lbs and is just huge. The BL 1 was out of our budget range, now they're going for a little less than before the HD craze hit. And if we went sync, we'd have to deflect at least $1000 for sound equipment that would produce anything worthwhile, and find a competent soundman.

 

See, ya shoulda looked at commiecams. The Kinor H and C s are already pretty quite when the mags are properly serviced (32 to 34 dbls, about the same as an arri BL) and really quiet with a barney tossed on them. They can be temperamental but not nearly as much as a French camera and there are lots of people that work on them. For what a BL rans, you could have picked up a Kinor 35H and a Konvas M2 probably with a set of lenses. :D

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  • 1 month later...

And it is deeply spooky!

 

A DOP friend of mine just did a 35mm feature on a budget of $25,000. He got some insane deal on a tonne of short ends, the crew was working for free, and I think they got a sync 35mm camera for free or very cheap. It's doable, but it's not easy. You need to have a lot of connections who will give you free stuff and free labour. That is always the case on any insanely low-budget feature regardless of format.

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I have 6460 feet of 35mm Kodak 5279 film. Willing to sell for $300 because the stock is discontinued. Has been temperature controlled and in great shape. Located in Hollywood. Let me know if you're interested.

 

If he doesn't take you up on that offer is it open to others?

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I don't really want to shot on 35mm because it will be a PAIN but it's a superior image and this film needs a superior image.

 

Personally I find any film camera way less of a pain than digital. But I guess it depends on your shooting style.

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