Filmmaking: No Budget, No Problem

December 14, 2009 at 9:18 am Leave a comment

One of the biggest misnomers about filmmaking is that you have to have a budget and expensive equipment, yet educators and filmmakers alike can spark creativity and innovation without spending a dime.

That means that the excuses of “I don’t have the equipment” or “I don’t have editing software” aren’t allowed anymore.

You Don’t Even Need a Camcorder

With the variety of footage now available from archives, remixing is becoming the new filming. From advertisements to film trailers, from short films to art installations, films made almost entirely from existing footage are now seen everywhere.

This trend began in the same way as audio remixes, with illegal mixes created by talented individuals on the edges of the law. However, today these innovators are now urged on by huge companies such as Viacom and General Motors to re-edit their advertisements. This technique was also chosen by New Line Cinema to remix the trailer of the recent Antonio Banderas film, Take the Lead, the first ever sanctioned audiovisual film remix by a Hollywood studio.

Cell Phone Cinema

Cell phones have also become a useful tool in the filmmaking process because they offer a cheap, easy alternative to camcorders. Mobile-as-movie cameras are breaking the motion picture mold, putting a touch of Hollywood into amateur filmmakers’ hands. How-to workshops have sprung up from Boston to Abu Dhabi to Rio de Janeiro, and Paris just held its fourth film festival devoted exclusively to movies shot with cell phones.

Even decorated director Spike Lee is jumping on the cell phone film bandwagon. He’s creating his own films with a Nokia N95 and the help of his son.

“He’s 10 years old, and he’s much more technologically advanced than I am,” Lee told Advertising Age. “The filmmakers who are going to take advantage of [mobile filmmaking] are the people who think ahead of everybody else, the visionaries. This stuff is really uncharted territory, so who knows where these devices and technology is going to take us in the future.”
Free Online Editing Tools

Once the visuals are compiled, editing must commence, but surely video editing is too resource-intensive to be done over the Web, right? Wrong! Many free online services allow you to do things like scene transitions, cuts, splices, loops and audio overlays. Most of them offer online editing and enable easy control of the video experience with the ability to send your creations to friends via e-mail and/or by embedding films online. Here are some tools to consider:

Cuts
Eyespot
Motionbox
One True Media
VoiceThread
PhotoStory

While none of these free services are going to put installed editors such as Pinnacle Studio, Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro out of business, they do offer a way for filmmakers to have fun manipulating their multimedia digital content.

In my classroom, with no budget for film equipment and software, a group of students created an award-winning short film using nothing but Paint, a stock Windows OS drawing program, and PowerPoint to complete their timing and editing. Expensive tools are not necessary – all you need is a little innovation.

Once you think of an idea for producing a film, investigate the options you already have available to you before you let a price tag hold you back. Free and accessible tools are available and user friendly. Hollywood is just starting to grasp the conce, and you can too.

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Entry filed under: Doing Good, OneSeventeen Media, Technology, Young Minds Digital Times, KidThrive.org, film. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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