By Julia Morizawa.
As a writer, when we hear something like, “Think like a producer” or “Write more producible scripts,” usually what that really boils down to is Budget. Of course, marketability and industry trends come to mind as well, but ultimately a film that can be made on a simple budget is key.
Here are some quick tips on adapting the logistical elements of your script to be more “producible.”
- Genre. Avoid high-budget genres such as sci-fi, fantasy, action, and period pieces. Or, when tackling such a genre, limit the story’s locations, props, and costumes to attainable resources (i.e. the dry Southern California desert has doubled as a planet in a faraway galaxy dozens of times in films of all budgets).
- Length. Keep it short and sweet. The less you need to film, the fewer days you need to shoot, and the lower the budget.
- Locations. A single location is a dream for a producer working with a micro-budget. And preferably something that doesn’t need to be built or extensively dressed.
- Cast. Limit the number of characters that appear in your story. The smaller the cast, the lower the budget needed for talent.
- Camera and Special FX. Avoid telling a story that might require complicated cinematography that requires special equipment like a drone or crane shot. Avoid expensive special effects, both practical and in post-production, such as a character shooting fire out of her fingertips.
- Stunts. Even the simplest action choreography requires a stunt coordinator and extensive safety precautions. Safety is extremely important, but also expensive, from hiring stunt performers to increasing the cost of insurance to purchasing special-made props and set pieces.
Of course, the story is still the priority. Simply making a script logistically “producible” doesn’t mean writing a compelling and unique story no longer applies. And not all stories can be forced into a budget successfully.
But if you’re a writer who is still looking to get a script produced, pursuing a micro-budget short film is one of the most accessible formats to get you there.
Julia is a writer, actress, producer & Shore Scripts script consultant who has also worked with Coverfly, Austin Film Festival, and the BlueCat Screenplay Competition. She has also worked on features, shorts, digital series, and scripted audio fiction series that have won awards presented by Scriptation, Screenwriting Master, Action On Film Festival, The Audio Verse Awards, and more.
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