Thursday, June 10, 2010

Casualties of Love

While Travel Day has a budget of almost $1 million, I have a smaller project under the category of "micro-budget" which is less than what a good DP would cost on Travel Day, which is already low budget.

Casualties of Love is budgeted at less than $100,000, a lot less.

A friend of mine, and a former student at my UCLA class, made 2 movies for $10,000. That's right, 2 feature-length movies for the sum total of $10,000. And both have been accepted at several film festivals. 

How did he do this? 

First of all, the locations for both movies were studio sets. Yes, he even got a studio and had people build the sets. Both sets were similar,  coffee shops. Thus he could recycle props and set decoration. This type of filmmaking is usually called "2 actors in a room" filmmaking.

Because that's about all you can afford on this kind of budget.

My friend had a cast of around 10 actors. The leads in one movie would be supporting cast in the second movie. He also had a crew of around 7-10 people.

And everyone worked for free. What money there was was used for a camera, sound equipment, food, gas and anything else they couldn't get for free. And if you don't believe this, you can go to his website on my Blog page under Materials.

So where does this go for me?

I wrote a play some years ago about three men in their late 30's who decide to kidnap an aging formerly famous rock star so that they can persuade him not to sell out his music for TV commercials. They had a teen band when they were young called The Casualties of Love. Now approaching 40, they are reflecting on their lives and where they ended up.

The play never got made beyond a reading, and I drifted to another project and forgot about it. But my ex-student and friend didn't. In fact he remembered Casualties of Love as well as another screenplay I had called Airwaves, about a DJ broadcasting out of a lonely gas station in Nebraska. This was long before Art Bell made that format famous.

Both screenplays had something in common. One location. In Airwaves it was a tiny radio station on the second floor of an isolated gas station. In Casualties, it was a cabin on an island where they keep the rocker captive.

He kept after me, saying we both could do back-t0-back movies, I could direct one of mine and he could direct one of his. Same as the formula he had already perfected. The sets would change a little bit, but that wouldn't be a problem.

I decided on Casualties Of Love, because I felt that the Airwaves screenplay was bigger and could cost more. Remember we're talking about under $100,000 for both of my screenplays.

There was one problem with Casualties though.

It was only 60 pages long.

And screenplays are usually 95-105 pages. I say "usually" because there's nothing than gets a writer's blood going than defining how long a screenplay should be. But that's another topic.

In the meantime, I had to figure out how to stretch the screenplay and keep it mico-budget.

(Mon: Casualties stretches)

1 comment:

  1. The low budget style you mention reminds me of those Flash Gordon serials with Larry (Buster) Crabbe that were filmed in any set that happened to be up - and they're still being shown somewhere nearly 75 years after first being made.