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Award-Winning Feature Film for $150,000

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The price of making a “real movie” keeps coming down:

    Friends star Courtney Cox was not fazed when she saw the consumer video cameras on the set of award-winning psycho thriller November.

    ….And his indie film’s surprisingly low budget, just $150,000 instead of the $1-2 million low-budget movies usually cost, meant his backers at Indigent Productions were happy too.

    Mini-DVs are widely used nowadays in news reporting and for TV documentaries and some soaps.

    But November’s award at the Sundance Film Festival for Excellence in Cinematography shows they have moved beyond the Blair Witch Project’s rough, hand-held, natural light aesthetic into something more fitting for the silver screen.

    “I wanted to push the technology and not abandon a cinematic look,” Greg Harrison told the BBC’s Go Digital, ” and still work with colour and shadow and framing and lighting” to convey the tension in this psychological thriller.

    The corner store scene of a violent robbery and murder in the film needed to look dark and murky

    In a film shoot of just 15 days and on a very low budget, the special lighting and coloured gels of conventional filming were out.

    But November’s director of photography, Nancy Schreiber, got her Sundance citation by achieving the same effect through white-balancing video cameras in the warm tones of a nearby streetlight.

    As well as cloning the look of more expensive film-shoots, the Panasonic DVX-100 cameras Mr Harrison used had unexpected spin-offs for the actors.

    With a price tag of just $2,500 apiece, the crew bought around 25 min-DVs, allowing them to use multiple cameras simultaneously on conversation scenes to capture wide-shots, close-ups, and cutaways without the need to repeat the scenes endlessly.

    ….The combination of such cameras along with cheap, desktop editing could change the picture for production companies around the world, technology analyst Bill Thompson told Go Digital. [BBC]

With cameras alone taking up almost half the budget, it sounds like everyone pretty much worked for free. We know Courtney can afford it.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://search4friction.com wKen

    Jonathan Caouette made his unusual documentary “Tarnation” for $218.32 and edited it on Apples iMovie, according to an article in Wired. It was shown recently at the Sundance Film Festival, and now Gus Van Sant and John Cameron Mitchell have signed on as executive producers of the film.

    Digital video is having a similar effect on filmmaking that blog tools are having on publishing. Soon almost anyone who has a film inside can get it out to the public.

    Of course, that means a lot more bad films to wade through to find the good ones.

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Ken, excellent point about the parallels to blogging. RE theflood of crap: that’s why “gatekeepers” and “editors” will always be important.