Micro-Budget Indie Film Director Ben Stier Shares Insights on How He Created ‘Girl Without End’ on a $9,000 Budget
Girl Without End, a new micro-budget sci-fi indie feature film about a woman that is fighting to free her father who she believes is trapped in a computer, was created by film producer and director Ben Stier, for $9,000. The movie is about artificial intelligence, the future of technology, recognizing reality, and family relationships.
“Hollywood film budgets have always been a mysterious beast, often soaring into the tens of millions of dollars just to film a single scene,” says Ben Stier.
Ben Stier started writing Girl Without End when the 2020 Pandemic broke and began production in September of that year, breaking for various lockdowns and gathering bans. The film relied on “talent donation” and was shot over the course of eighteen months, with many scenes being shot in private residences of film participants, and other free locations.
“How do you take a budget of under $10k and make something watchable?”, asks Ben. “Some have done it and they are legends, such as Robert Rodriguez’s El Mariachi and Shane Carruth’s Primer. It’s my hope that sharing what I learned making Girl Without End will help other filmmakers create their micro-Budget films.”
Ben Stier’s insights on creating a micro-budget feature film for aspiring filmmakers include:
1) Try and Look stupid.
Filmmakers need to fail in order to succeed. Filmmaking is failing up. It’s breaking the pretty beautiful eggshells and making a mess. Pain, torment, and depression are just interesting sensations that get your movie made.
2) Write from your heart and then risk it all.
Write a script with a vague notion that there won’t be any money. Don’t worry about locations or actors or set pieces. Just have a whispering voice in one ear reminding you that everything will eventually cost money. The point is to get the story out and get the beats working. This is the writing from the heart part. And when that’s done, risk everything. Take the script with all your awesome big-budget (yet micro-budget undertones) to some friends and do a table read. Buy them all pizza and get them all amped up on Monster Energy drinks so you get good honest feedback of where they fell out of interest and when they lost the story structure.
3) Be prepared to do all the technical post-production stuff, all by yourself.
Micro-budget filmmakers will do all of the shooting and editing and sound mixing and coloring. Build or buy a computer that can handle the entire post-production pipeline and be able to back everything up. Get a camera, get it working and test out the entire pipeline before calling actors.
4) Micro-budget filmmakers are loved one minute, hated the next.
Build a team from friends, actors on Facebook, and friends of friends. Meet people and if they feel right, even just a little bit, give them the role. The first day of shooting is magical. Everyone will show up on time and be excited. That excitement dissipates quickly as the project becomes work of being directed and learning lines. The lighting plan will fail. The doorway dolly doesn’t fit down the stairs. No amount of planning will create the perfect shoot. By the 10th shoot, everyone will be emotionally done with the movie. A feature film is a lot of shots. Be nice, thank everyone every time, make it as easy as possible, and never get angry.
5) Weekends are for lovers
Micro-budget film producers will be shooting their movies on the weekends because that is when everyone is available. Be prepared to give out Producer credits. Granting producer credits is a good way to get volunteer help, like making phone calls and helping with logistics. Be creative. Ask friends to make their homes available for shooting, or walk into businesses and ask if their buildings can be used for the project. Be prepared to just film in the parking lot or go back home and film. By the 5th or 7th shoot, the possibilities begin to become clear. Filmmakers have a variety of resources and friendships they can call on for their projects.
6) Friends of Friends will want to participate.
Things are going so well that people share fun stuff on social media and that sparks interest from other friends that want to help in a movie that is already happening. The people that show up halfway through shooting will be the people that get the film made because when they come in with new energy they remind everyone else that what they are helping with is cool.
For more information on the film Girl Without End, visit the official website.
About Girl Without End
Girl Without End is a micro-budget sci-fi indie feature by film producer and first-time director Ben Stier. The film is about Emma, a single mother that is struggling to live in the present, a present that she refuses to accept as reality. The film started production in September 2020 and was completed in February 2022. Festival submissions will start in June of 2022. The film’s official website is https://www.girlwithoutend.com.
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