5 Must Read Film Tips: Choosing Big Budget Film Locations on Indie Movie Budgets

Big Budget Movie Locations for Low Budget Film Prices 
Dr Who's Tardis is surprisingly Low Tech

Summer blockbuster films seem to be filmed in a dizzying number of exotic locations, from the far off islands of Fiji to a black hole near the planet Vulcan. When creating a low budget film or movie, recreating these places may seem way outside any realm of possibility, but with a little imagination and creativity, your low budget film or video can take place someplace other than a rented warehouse or your backyard.

Film Tip #1 Be Creative

You do not need to create a set if you can find a ready-made set. A university open at midnight, a public park, an abandoned building, local graveyards, or a church are examples of all kinds of locations that can easily be usurped for location shots. Of course, be sure to leave the property the same way you found it and get any permissions you need, as necessary.

Film Tip #2 Be Believable

Try to emphasize those elements that might make your location more believable. Remember the audience members will only see the finished cut of your film or video. They will not know that the eerie cabin in the woods was really in the middle of a golf course if you use smart camera angles, carefully placed props, and interspersed footage of a some scary woods. 

Film Tip #3 Opt for Props

Otherworldly scenes and fantasy scenes may be a little trickier. Opt for a few believable elements instead of delving into absolute cheesiness (unless that is what you want). Experiment with different ideas, as well. Does the inside of a space ship have to resemble the Starship Enterprise or something from Star Wars, or can it have an entirely different look (a spartan German expressionist inspired room or even a gelatinous blob)? Think about how incredibly low tech yet convincing the Dr. Who Tardis is. 

This Student Film Valley of the Shadow was filmed entirely on a 3'x2' piece of plywood

Film Tip #4 Use Camera Tricks

Sometimes acquiring a large set can be a problem. Use perspective to your advantage. Clever camera angles can make a single room become a spacious mansion. Avoid large panoramas and instead opt for close shots, partially blocked with props or actors. Use camera placement to trick the eye or even use greenscreen to later fill in larger sets.

Film Tip #5 Miniatures and Animation

Miniature sets and animation have been used almost since the beginning of film history to create other worlds and recreate entire cities. A carefully created miniature can save your film thousands, or even just give you those one or two shots that would be impossible to create without some serious visual effects software. Miniature sets are often a lot more time-efficient than computer generated imagery if your computer is slow or no one on your team has animation experience. While storyboarding, try to see what elements may be more efficiently worked out with a miniature. Then you can dedicate more time to complex scenes. Ready-made furniture and props can be bought at craft shops, the toy store, or even the dollar store. Remember to always have a spare handy if any pieces are slotted to be destroyed. You never know when you have to reshoot a previous scene with a now imploded apartment building.

Libertaria Uses Animation to Create EPIC Larger than Life Scenes

Young is the foremost expert on virtual opera production and online collaboration with the debut of her machinima opera Libertaria: The Virtual Opera. Libertaria includes a live international cast and film crew, virtual choirs, sound synthesis, machinima, and contemporary choral writing, produced entirely online using crowdsourcing, social networking, and the Internet. Critics call Libertaria "Groundbreaking" and "Wagner 2.0". Works performed internationally at the Beijing Conservatory, the International Computer Music Conference, Miramax's Project Greenlight, the Athena Festival, the New York International Independent Film Festival, Art Basil Miami, Turkey's Cinema for Peace, Art Miami, and Pulsefield International Exhibition of Sound Art, the Holland Animation Film Festival, Australasian Computer Music Confetence, Buffalo's Women and Arts Festival, and countless venues worldwide. Young's recent projects include the social media opera The Village and a recent TED Talk on opera and the Internet at TEDxBuffalo.


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