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Shooting a Feature Film on the weekend – Making your dream feature film now.

October 16, 2013 by · Comments Off on Shooting a Feature Film on the weekend – Making your dream feature film now. 

Today, I would like to talk about the holy grail of Film Making, The Feature Film.

Cast an Director on The Makeover

Cast and Director on “The Makeover”

Some of you may feel like the Feature Film Production is an impossible task, only for the lucky determined few who can navigate the funding bodies and Distributors.  Today, I would like to talk about the possibility of making your feature film as soon as you can.

Of course, one should always learn film making via making short films first.  The reason for this is that it is an inexpensive way to learn from your mistakes and gain the valuable experience to make an idependent feature film when you have the experience of making successful short films.

Our Mini Jib used on  The Makeover

Our Mini Jib used on “The Makeover”

However, when you are ready to make a feature film, it can seem like an impossible task.  I would like to talk about the Weekend Feature Film. Many film makers have used this approach in the past.  The reason is that it is a very inexpensive way to make a long format film.

In 2007, we decided to take that approach and make a feature film on the weekend with no budget raised.  Instead, we cash flowed the film as we made it.  We made this a very enjoyable challenge.

Over 14 months, we shot our 95 minute feature film, “The Makeover”.  It took ten weekends with an average of three shooting days per shooting weekend.  Therefore, we shot on thirty days over 14 months which was the equivalent of 30 Shooting Days or a six week shoot on a normal feature film.  This shooting schedule is adequate to make a professional feature film.  We started at Easter, 2007, and completed it in May, 2008.

One of the few scenes that was cut from the completed film

One of the few scenes that was cut from the completed film

I did not complete post production till mid 2009 and then hit the festival circuit and promoted the film.  It was tremendous fun and in the end we had a saleable product.  However, the best part was the cost.

Each three day weekend Shoot cost, on average, $3000 which was saved and cash flowed on every weekend.  The total shoot cost was $30,000 spread over 14 months.  Most Indie feature films have budgets ranging from $1million – $20 million.  The Australian feature film, “The Sapphires”, cost $10million.  So how would you like to shoot a film for $30,000?

Scary Shot over Balcony 16 Floors High

Scary Shot over Balcony 16 Floors High. Yes, it was worth it.

Yes, one has to be clever and get most locations for a contra promotion and for Zero cost.  We owned our own film equipment to the value of $20,000.  All our crew were co- owners of the film and therefore contributed their time and effort to the film they part-owned.  Yes, one had to be clever and determined. However, money was not the barrier.

The point is that it is far better to be making a film than talking about it.  One can make a micro budget feature on the weekend while raising a budget for the $1 million dollar film and have two projects on the go.

Once again, I must add that we shot ”The Makeover” for $30,000.  However, Post Production did cost a considerable amount after the shoot and had to be cash-flowed.

  1. I edited the film myself (Free)

    Cafe Scene The Makeover

    Cafe Scene “The Makeover”

  2. I paid my composer $5,000
  3. I paid my Sound Post person $5,000
  4. Colouring cost $5,000
  5. Final Post and Deliverables were $10,000

Yes, the above five elements cost another $25,000.

Now let’ s mention the promotion and sales over two years.

  1. Film Marketing Materials cost $5,000
  2. Film Festival Entries were $7,000
  3. Film Markets and Promotions cost $25,000
Shooting Bar Scene The Makeover

Shooting Bar Scene “The Makeover”

This totals another $37,000.  Other expenses relating to the film included Censor Rating and other issues to the value of $15,000.

The Total Budget in the end was $103,000 cash flowed over four years.

This is still very inexpensive.  If I was to make the film again on the weekends I could do this slightly cheaper, knowing what I know now.  But not by much.  Here is what I estimate it would cost now if one owns their own film equipment.

1.  Shoot  $30,000
2.  Post    $30,000
3.  Marketing and Promotions  $30,000

Directing Cafe Scene The Makeover

Exterior Manly Beach

How did “The Makeover” fare in the world market?

Film Festival Screenings
1.  Cannes Independent Film Festival 2010
2.  New York Film Festival Best Comedy Drama 2010
3.  Screening American Film Market, Los Angeles 2010

Sales Worldwide

  1. Australia: DVD Release in Australia and New Zealand in all DVD Blockbusters and shops
  2. Europe: Pay TV
  3. America: Pay Per View Cable
  4. ITUNES Movie Release 2011 US only
  5. VOD available on many different VOD Platforms

Top 10 Movies on YouTube for 2012-13
As of today, the film has been watched on Youtube 1,084,196 times.On Set The Makeover

In my opinion, this is not that bad for a film that was shot on $30,000.  In 2007, one had to shoot on the most basic of cameras, if one was shooting on a low budget.

Today, one could shoot their film on a Cannon C300 or if one can on the Red Epic or Scarlet and shoot a film that looks like a big budget film.  If you want to learn how to shoot a your film professionally and make a film for a very low budget, please enrol on the 4 Month Film School.

In any case, I am looking forward to shooting my next film “Absolute Freedom” on close to a million dollars in the outback with the Red Camera.  Please follow the adventure via this blog.

If you made it this far, please watch the trailer for “The Makeover”.

“The Makeover Trailers –  100 minutes Feature Film 

The Makeover won Best Comedy Drama at the New York Downtown Film Festival.  The film was also sold to Pay TV in Europe and has come  a viral success on the net.








Film Festivals and how they can rocket your film career.

October 5, 2013 by · Comments Off on Film Festivals and how they can rocket your film career. 

When you complete your short film or indie feature film, its a great idea to enterimages multiple film festivals with your film

There are some very compelling reasons to do so.

  1. Film Festival success helps your CV and your recognition as a film maker. 
  2. Gets you noticed by Sales Agents , Film Producers and Talent Scouts.
  3. Finds you an appreciative audience.

Many short film Makers make their short film and then forget to seek the audience. Outside of a cast and crew screening and a pat on the back from family and friends, many film makers stop at the conclusion of production and never get their film seen by anyone.

The reasons for this are as follows

  • Fatigue
  • Cost of entering film festivals
  • Fear of rejection.

Cannes Film Festival

Do not let the above get in the way of you finding your audience.  Film Project fatigue can be overcome by preparing your mental approach at the start of film production. When you start to make your low budget short film or low budget feature film, prepare for a one year festival circuit and promotion of your film.

Some film makers tell me that they feel they do not have a good enough film. Sometimes this is the case. However, many times this is just fear. To get around this obstacle, set a film festival budget for 30 film festival entries.  Set the budget aside and spend it till you have success.

The cost of entering film festivals is about $25 – $50 per festival for short films and about $50 – $100 for features. You are paying for the film festival to review your film and decide if it is worthy for their film festival.


Toronto Film Festival

Our strategy is always to enter 30 film festivals over a period of 18 months. If you succeed at one of the A list film festivals, then you will be invited to many other big film festivals.

Fear of Rejection is a tough one. Here is a rejection letter for the Sundance film Festival a friend of mine received.

On behalf of the Sundance Programming team, we would like to thank you for submitting your film to the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.  Unfortunately, we are not able to include it in our program this year.  With over 3,800 feature films submitted for consideration, narrowing the field down to 115 was more difficult than ever.  Please know that our staff carefully considered your film, and we viewed far more worthy films than we had room for in the program.  Do not be discouraged by this decision– we wish you the best of luck with your film, and look forward to having the opportunity to view your work in the future.

Film festivals are competitive. They are supposed to showcase the best innovative new work of fresh up and coming film makers. So yes, there is competition. If you are not in, you can not win. You have to take a “numbers game” approach. Work on a one in ten strategy. Enter 10 Film Festivals to get into one. I know many film makers who take this approach and succeed.


Cannes Red Carpet

When entering film festivals, make sure you enter a film festival early and not right on their deadline when 80% of Film Makers enter. This gives your film a better chance.Make sure all your presentation materials are top class and that it is easy to watch your DVD.

Film festivals help the emerging and independent film maker get their work noticed by audiences and the film elite. Film Festivals are fun and inspiring events to attend. It is very exciting when your film screens at a top class film festival. It will give you the feeling of being a indie film maker. In future years after I have completed my feature film Absolute Freedom, I will attend many of the following A List Film Festivals listed at the end of the article. Many I have being to before but on my next visit, I want to give you the feel for each film festival and record numerous podcasts.

Colm O’Murchu

Here is the best resource for you film festival strategy and also the top 10 film festivals.

The Film Site that used to enter film festivals  is Without a Box.

Here is the A LIst Film Festivals in the world today .  If you get into any of these film festivals, it will benefit your film career dramatically.


Tribeca Film Festival

Toronto Film Festival

South by Southwest Film Festival

 Palm Springs International Film Festival

Telluride Film Festival

 Los Angles Film Festival

Cannes France















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