How to Produce Your First Feature Film or Short Film.

A question I get asked often is How to Produce Your First Feature Film or short film? This can be intimidating, it was for me when I produced and directed my first film BROKEN (Watch it FREE on Amazon Prime). Here are some of the questions I asked when producing my first film:

  • How do you get the locations I need?
  • How many shooting days can I really afford?
  • How do I “back into” a budget?
  • How do I create a reverse budget?
  • Do I need shooting permits?
  • How do I get production insurance?
  • Where do I get my crew?

Since I had never really produced anything longer than a 30 sec commercial, producing a 20 minute film seemed like climbing Mt. Everest. Luckily I had Jorge Rodriguez, a great producer who also acted as my line producer on the project.

He was able to breakdown everything and create the reverse budget. A reverse budget is simply starting with a number, lets say eight thousand dollars, then creating a budget that fits into that $8000 box.

Traditional budgets are created based on the script while a reverse budget is created based on a top budget number i.e.: $8000. This technique allowed me to create my first few projects on the money I had available.


It worked for Robert Rodriguez.

One tip I can give you when producing a low budget film is to use what you have access to. Director Robert Rodriguez famously said that:

“I had some guns, a bathtub, a small Mexican town, a dog and turtle.  I wrote all of these things into my script for El Mariachi. It was the only way I could make it for such a low budget.”

I did something similar for BROKEN . I had access to a crazy looking abandoned hospital location and I wrote my entire film to fit into that box. I couldn’t have made BROKEN any other way.

Take a look at the video below and listen to producer Jorge Rodriguez explain how to “back into” a indie film budget. Good luck and keep shooting!

Take a look at Anatomy of a Killer Stunt. It goes BTS of how we did some really cool stunts in our films.

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1 Comment

  1. Stanley Schmitt on October 10, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Here is a good article I found on fundraising methods for shorts. Some good ideas. Cheers