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Raphael Morris

90 minute 35mm feature for £10k?

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Hello I'm new here so hi everyone!

 

I'm planning to start a couple of self funded projects to start filming in the 1st and 2nd quarter 2009, and would very much like these to be done on 35mm. The shoe string budget is £2k for a short 12 minute film and £10k for the 90 minute feature. Is this possible? or preposterous? apparently the film 'Table 5' was a 90min, 35mm feature made for £278.38

 

I imagine to achieve these kinds of expenses you have to buy equipment you need and sell it once the filming is finished, instead of just renting everything.

 

It will be a 2 perf widescreen format, dolby stereo soundtrack, minimal location changes

 

anyone heard of these kinds of figures? (sorry if this has been asked before)

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I assume the £278 figure is a misprint.

I also assume you know that 35mm. runs at 90ft/min; stock and processing comes to about 60p/ft so if you shot 1:1 and used every foot that would be £5400 on its own.

So I think the answer is no.

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Hi Raphael,

 

A 90 min feature takes a long time to shoot and a lot of bodies (which, with your budget, would have to work unpaid). Do you really think that 10k will do it?

If you think so, then good luck but in your case I would be more inclined to make a great 35mm short with that 10k and then use that great short to get funding towards your feature.

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I assume the £278 figure is a misprint.

I also assume you know that 35mm. runs at 90ft/min; stock and processing comes to about 60p/ft so if you shot 1:1 and used every foot that would be £5400 on its own.

So I think the answer is no.

If you'll review the original post, you'll see that the intended shooting format is 2-perf, which runs at 45ft./min. Using short ends (assuming they are available in the UK) will also significantly reduce the stock and development costs to the point where 16mm offers no tangible financial benefit.

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If you do it as a labor of love, and if it's a simple story, and if you're able to scrape pennies together and if you're able to shoot it all mostly on your own or with close friends who also love it as much as you do, then I think it could be done for 10K. Of course, as you add complexity to scenes the price also goes up. Audio might be an issue as well...

point being, no harm in running some numbers.

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Hello I'm new here so hi everyone!

 

I'm planning to start a couple of self funded projects to start filming in the 1st and 2nd quarter 2009, and would very much like these to be done on 35mm. The shoe string budget is £2k for a short 12 minute film and £10k for the 90 minute feature. Is this possible? or preposterous? apparently the film 'Table 5' was a 90min, 35mm feature made for £278.38

 

I imagine to achieve these kinds of expenses you have to buy equipment you need and sell it once the filming is finished, instead of just renting everything.

 

It will be a 2 perf widescreen format, dolby stereo soundtrack, minimal location changes

 

anyone heard of these kinds of figures? (sorry if this has been asked before)

 

I know that Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope" was shot for 5,000 USD, which would probably be around 3,350 GBP. That movie was shot in 35mm. I'd check it out to see how Hitchcock did it.

 

Robert Rodriguez shot his first movie "El Mariachi" for 7,500 USD, which would probably be around 5,020 GBP in your area. It was shot in 16mm.

 

I should note that both films are about 80 minutes long.

 

So yes, I think it's possible to make a 90-minute feature on film for 10000 GBP, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's very hard to pull off. With "El Mariachi," Robert Rodriguez rented a camera for a week, purchased some film and tape, paid for gas, got his friend to act, went across the border, bought some tacos, and shot the movie - he shot it for 5020 GBP (7500 USD). He didn't pay the lab. It wasn't edited. He had no music. It wasn't even 35mm. He didn't finish it.

 

As you can see, this route is difficult. In fact, I'd probably shoot a digital feature shot in one or two weeks with a three-chip Mini-DV camera and a five-to-eight person crew if I had 10000 GBP to make a movie.

 

That's all I can say about the 90-minute feature. Hard? Yes. Impossible? No.

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For Rope, I'd factor in inflation as well. . .I mean 1948 bucks aren't 2008 bucks. ..

 

This is hardly definitive, but my comparison of the change in the price of consumer goods in the U.S. between then and now indicates that things back then generally cost 1/10 of their current cost, although you have to look at the exchange rate between the U.S. and U.K. too. Hell, you Brits were still using LSD back then, (think 20 shillings or 240 pence to the pound for those who aren't privy to non-decimal currency).

 

Further, keep in mind that, due to differing levels of technology, some things vary drastically in terms of their relative costs as well, and taxes were certainly different in Europe back then, more akin to what is still in place in the United States with low sales and income taxes because of a pre-socialist government.

 

Color film/printing is actually far cheaper than it was then adjusted for inflation.

 

But, assuming a nice, even inflation and no relative changes in scarcity or value, you'd be looking at $50,000 to make that same movie today (roughly £25 to 30 thousand plus the ridiculous double digit sales tax across the pond).

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if nothing else is a problem and its about getting the film costs right then its a little unpredictable Yes with shortends you could do it but you cant afford to make any mistakes in shooting Such a low shooting ratio with everything else being possibly less than professional you may end up with the film looking like the budget.. I cant see though how so little money is going to look good on screen and if its going to be a low number of locations minimum action effects etc wouldnt it be better as a TV drama perhaps shot on digital?

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Give or take $ 1,495,000 :D

 

-Sam

 

It's hard to imagine a studio film like "Rope" was made for $5K.

 

This is what I know:

I rented some equipment to a 2 perf 35mm feature that is being made for an absurdly small sum. It's in post now. They got the film in the can (5:1 ratio IIRC), processed and HiDef telecine for $6k. Here's how:

 

The director/writer knew what he wanted. He and his wife worked crazy hours to plan the film in great detail. Because they knew the material so well when something went wrong they could improvise solutions quickly. They didn't pay for locations, shot short ends (.05/ft), the dp owned his own 2 perf camera and he worked for nothing because they are friends and he wanted to do the project. There were 2 unpaid actors. They didn't record sync sound all the time. Almost all of the labor was donated because everyone involved so believed in this guy's commitment. I even loaned a camera body when their's went down. Somehow they got a lab interested in the project and got a screaming deal on telecine. They had lots of problems. Sometimes it was only the dp, director and an actor working. They shot it in 4 weeks. The 90 minute feature wound up being about an hour because they had to cut material to get it done in their limited time frame.

 

They're going to have an HD edited version to show at some point for under $10k US.

 

So it is possible. A script you believe in and crazy hard work for years could make it happen.

 

Good luck,

 

Bruce Taylor

www.Indi35.com

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Sure you can, Rafeal, in fact you can do it for less than 10k and here's how ya do it. First write a script that is set in the here and now in one exterior location during the day. get a camera with a zoom lens. Have EVERYONE work for free over a weekend. Write it as though you were writing a play. Use title cards for credits, NO music, NO sound effects. Sound is a boom, shotgun mic and blimp with fur cover, recorded onto small digital or Nagra recorder, one man sound team documentary style. Have your actors, grips and cameraman rehearse the Hell out of their dialog, blocking and camera moves. Use only reflectors and bead-board for lighting, all hand held. Make sure you have at least one student on the production so you can get any student discounts available for processing and equipment rental. (borrow as much equipment as possible.) Shoot hand held, wide, and lots of DOF with minimal zooms and camera movement.

 

Get 8000 ft of color reversal stock from a reseller and shooting 4 perf because otherwise you'll have to telecine or have the film go though an optical printer to get an anamorphic, projectable print (2 perf is not a projectable format as you know). Preform the piece as though it were a play, cutting only as each 1000 ft roll runs out. Reload the camera and change angles when that happens so it appears to be a natural cut (Rope would move onto some undistinguished item like the back of someones coat or something on the table, whatever. That will work too. anything to camouflage the break in action) and continue on again without cutting until the next roll runs out, ect ect ect, until you have shot the entire piece. Have the sound transfered and added to the exposed stock, the film processed, edit the 8 sections together into 4 2000 ft rolls (You may even be the lab to do that for you for a small fee). BAM one 88 minute full length feature film for under 10K. Limiting but quite doable. See, professionals WILL work for free, if it isn't to much trouble so, getting them to donate their time for a weekend is much easier than getting 'em work for free shooting conventionally over a couple of weeks. The main problem will be distribution 'cause you can't afford to hire a star so generally, speaking horror films are what you can sell with no name attached. NOW if you can figure out a horror script that can be done during the day and shoot it as described, THEN you really GOT somethin' there!! B)

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All the references I can find have the 'Rope' budget at $1.5M, which is actually quite a piece of money for the time. After all, Casablanca was only about $600K plus overhead.

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Give or take $ 1,495,000 :D

 

-Sam

 

Yeah, Rope was definitely not a low budget picture by any means. It had a big star (Jimmy Stewart) and director who was at the top of his game. Not to mention, it was shot in three strip technicolor, which was extravagant even for a big studio. I recall someone saying that three strip would increase a film's budget by twenty five percent.

 

Brian

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Thanks for the feedback everyone, really appreciate it.

 

I think the figures are not as crazy as they sound. Not only that the film can potentially not only look professional, but stunning. Bold words I know but in terms of the short, filming it on 35mm, 2perf, dolby stereo for 2k is a tough one, but possible.

 

Firstly getting 2100ft of film for around £800 is the cheapest i can find so far (got an trading account with a factory for celluloid), which, with 2perf, is more than enough but already almost half the budget.

 

I might know some film student who can supply me with lighting equipment, sound equipment, some bits and bobs so that I don't have spend anything apart from on a decent DOP, a camera (thinking ARRIFLEX 235), expenses and food. Actors is not a problem (in contact with an agency that supply good actors trying to break in film ergo will do it for free), advertise on shootingpeople.org for free labour/help in exchange for experience/credits and finally shooting is mostly in one area on the street or indoors, or at a mate's flat :-)

 

only one thing left.... post production, DI and copies. ahr

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Using short ends would obviously make things cheaper also, so will look into that...

 

most people would say this is nuts but I honestly think it's possible without even having to have any real established contacts willing to 'help out' or resorting any serious cut backs... plus if the film gets into a festival it's a good selling point i.e. '35mm movie made for 2k' etc etc

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Howabout that 2800 feet that are on here for 10¢ (about a shilling) a foot right now?

 

That'd be thirty minutes closer to your needed amount of footage, without any taxes.

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"Rope" is only 10 master shots, had only 5 edits, took place in almost entirely one room, and was even based on a stage play. So even for a studio feature, it was pretty cheap to make. As for Brian's thoughts on Stewart and Hitchcock, consider this. Hitchcock was still learning the process at the time (I once saw a featurette on Hitchcock which said that he didn't use the editing style for "Rope" again after it was done, so he was still learning back then), and "Rope" came out before "Rear Window," "Vertigo," "Psycho," and many of Hitch's best works. As for Jimmy Stewart, sure, he was in "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington," and "It's A Wonderful Life," but it's possible he worked on "Rope" for half (maybe even less than half) his salary. If you look at the film, Jimmy Stewart was the only big name in the entire production back then. Do you know any of the other stars in the movie? Because I don't. Besides, there have been many low-budget films with at least one big name (Antonio Banderas in "Desperado," or John Travolta in "Pulp Fiction," for example).

 

Whatever the case, "Rope" was still a cheap movie to make. Sure, the amount of money is more than it was yesterday, but it's still probably very inexpensive anyway (I'd say Karl's $50,000 is about right, which is still pretty low-budget).

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The 235 is not your camera for this one. It is an MOS camera and makes a racket when filming. You won't be able to record dialogue with it. I have been on shoots where they recorded sound with it, but it was outside in big locales far from the actors. If you are going to shoot 35, your best bet would be to find an old BL3 or something similar, which, since you are shooting 2 perf, will make it very, very hard to find a camera. Modern prime sets are probably going to run too expensive, so you could stick to a limited selection of 1 or 2 fast, older primes, for when you need the stop, and stick to an older zoom or two for most everything else. Your lens selection will be extremely limited, and not comparable with modern optics. Many rental houses will not supply you with what you need, for the price you want, unless you shoot the movie in a week or two, get them to cut a deal, and go with an absolute bare-bones package. As much as I think this is the wrong wey to go, you may be forced to go with privately owned gear, which is often sub-par, at least as far as camera bodies go. This shoot can be done, but there is no wiggle room whatsoever, and it will look low budget- not a bad thing, because that is what it is. Older lenses and a limited lighting package on 2-perf stock is becoming more common with indie films, but, know going in, it will not look like Titanic or Spiderman.

 

If I were you, I would shoot Super 16 for similar cost, get modern cameras, with some decent S16 lenses- 7mm-63mm, and the 11.5-138 (pretty standard zooms for S16) and throw in a few extra lights. Transfer at a well known facility, and you will be getting something pretty much the same, if not better, for your money.

Edited by Mike Panczenko

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Yes, the 235 is not the way to go (it's an MOS camera), even if there is a 2 perf movement it is going to cost big time. I have heard that someone has a rentable 2 perf Arri BL3 in Germany. Don't have any more info than that.

 

As everyone here knows, here in LA I rent some Russian Moviecam SuperAmerica (sorta) knock offs one of which is converted to 2 perf. The man that did it for me was Anders Banke out of Sweden at www.solidentertainment.com. He has a fleet of converted 2 perf Kinors with Russian Lomo lenses that make wonderful pictures. His 2 perf feature "Frostbiten" is available from Netflix now. The footage at the begining of the film out in the forest is really breathtaking. It will show you what some 25-30 year old primes can do. Anyway, I believe he rents his gear out. It would undoubtedly run a great deal less than current Arri, Panavision or Aaton packages.

 

Good luck,

 

Bruce Taylor

www.Indi35.com

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Shooting 35mm for very little money is possible, and I've done it. But if this is going to be a first time feature, you'd better not do it and think you're going to get a good result, at least not for 10K pounds.

 

Now that you have HD available, there's a real format that you can shoot inexpensively and have it look comparable to film (10 years ago when people were comparing mini DV to film I was laughing). Sure, you could scrimp and save, and yes, I LOVE 35mm (especially B&W 35mm, yumm). But if I had to do a no-budget feature all over again, I wouldn't stretch to shoot 35mm - it's simply not worth it imho. The only real advantage you have from a practical point with 35mm is that you can get away with riskier lighting. That's about it. Everything else is more complicated, esp. when it comes to making sure things are in focus, trying to steal shots on the subway, etc (yes, I've taken my IIc on the NY subway system post 911 - and gotten away with it).

 

The most important thing is that in 99% of cases you're not going to get a positive print, you're going to end up on video. Now, do you want to pay the money for an HD transfer from your 35mm negative, or have everything sitting happily on your FCP timeline and being able to do a simple dump to tape for a film festival (or say, you want to rent a screen at a theater and show your movie with an HD projector)?

 

Film is great, there's STILL nothing like it, and yes it is VERY addictive I must admit. But from a practical perspective if you're out to tell a story, the technology has gotten so good that you can really do amazing things you couldn't just 10 years ago without having to stretch every dime. Put the money into the production and into advertising/promotion after your feature is done. Believe me, you'll need it badly. Remember, there's no trophy out there for "cheapest short end 35mm production".

Edited by GeorgeSelinsky

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I would certainly give the main rental houses a wide berth on the 2-perf.

They don't have that many of them so they are less able to give you a better discount.

 

It sounds like Bruce's contact could be the one.....

 

As for the digital recommendations....I'm sorry to say......fools gold! :ph34r:

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