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How to Write a Screenplay for a Micro-Budget Film?

Updated: May 9, 2023

Micro-budget films are ones; of which productions have budgets ranging from high four-figures to very low six-figures.

Around $150,000 may seem like a lot of money. But, it’s not that much in the field of film production. Surely, it is enough to take the quality to somewhere from nowhere.

Filmmakers are generally playing with other people’s money unless they are investing their own money; so costs need to be kept to a minimum.

Here are simple steps that need to be followed while writing the screenplay of a micro-budget film.

Write for What You Have Micro-budget films have a tight budget. This means; the production doesn’t usually have the money to pay for appealing locations, vehicles, weapons, wardrobe, etc. Generally, writers are informed of what props are available and what is not. The key to budget maintenance is to explore what you have or can negotiate for free. And then write that into the script.

Micro-Budget Locations Micro-budget films are generally location oriented in terms of production. The commuting of the crew from point A to point B costs money. This is generally avoided by cutting down to shooting the majority of the scenes that belong to the same location, on the same day of production.

Micro-Budget Speaking Roles Try to keep experienced actors and camera-friendly people around to make sure you don’t have many wasted shots. Wrong shots call for reshoots. Time is money and the clock is ticking.

Be Aware of the Weather in Your Script Only focus on the weather when it is feasible. Can you afford to shoot in the rain or snow? Can fake rain or snow be created? Man-made screen-weather costs money and if possible should be eliminated.

Micro-Budget Movie Extras This one is simple — don’t write scenes that require people walking in the background. Extras also cost money and the more extras you have, the more salaries you’re paying.

Micro-Budget Stunts Does your story absolutely need the stunts? Stunt actors generally cost a lot and stunts are performed over a number of takes. This prolongs shooting time and also may require special gear (vehicles, guns, etc.). All of course - for an extra cost.

Simplify Go through the entire script as a whole and ask yourself what else can be simplified. Less is always more. Some of the greatest stories have come from films that were cost friendly. Simplify all costs and negotiate with yourself over what can be eliminated or replaced with a cheaper substitute (and may induce the same feeling).

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