Updated: Jul 13
Ladies and gents, the goal of this blog post is to give you a breakdown of how I was able to make my latest video "From Your Lips 2 God's Ears" with close to NO BUDGET! Yep, you read that right!
But first, let me breakdown average video production costs can look like:
Location, Liability Certificate of Insurance, Permits, etc. - $1,000 an up
Hair and Make Up $150 and up
Director $500 and up: A director shapes the vision of the project (i.e. brainstorms on ideas, creates mood board, writes out the storyline and timeline of the video).
Producer $500 and up: A producer organizes the shoot (i.e. casting, scheduling, monitoring budget, etc.)
Videographer $500.00 and up: A videographer shoots the visuals
Editor $300.00): An editor organizes all of the visuals to shape the story and final product.
This is not including talent, if you need other people as characters in your video, catering, COVID testing... Ugh... I can go on and the tab will only increase.
Yeah, exactly... that's a lot of bread right there. When you are just starting out and you have no investors and your making ends meet on your own, this can be discouraging. But don't be discouraged, there are ways however to cut back on a lot of these expenses and I will show you how.
Location and/or Permits
Shoot outdoors! Pick a low key place in which you will not need a permit to shoot. This also eliminates what it would cost you hourly to rent out a studio. Do a google search of the most Instagrammable places in your area. You'd be surprised sometimes to find out what's always been right in your backyard that you do not need a permit for. However, if your shoot needs to be indoors, check out some affordable spots via peerspace.com
Hair & Make-Up
Look up some DIY videos, keep it simple. Some times less is more and you can do your own hair and make up. If this is an absolute "No I definitely cannot do that!" for you, you can also partner with a local cosmetic school. They often offer free hair, makeup and nail services in exchange of you being their model for the moment. The MAC store also offers a complimentary face beat when you book with them in advance. I like to purchase a product and give some type of exchange for the work they are doing as a token of appreciation. Check our their availability here: https://www.maccosmetics.com/book-appointment
This one is simple. As a musician, use your creative juices to create your own story! Put together a mood board, a document that is a collage of all the ideas you have in your head to help you stay on track and/or further develop your ideas. Organize and do your own project management and this will alleviate these costs. The devil is in the details so make sure you go slow, dot your i's and cross your t's. If you feel this is going beyond your capacity, you can also partner with your local university's film department and recruit a student who is looking to build his/her reel and do an exchange of services or work on a donation base.
You may not want to hear this one, but ... shoot with your PHONE! Most phones nowadays have the capacity to shoot 1080 at 60 fps, some even push to 4K! Of course you'll need to have access to a tripod which you can find on amazon for as low as $20. They even have the full kit and caboodle with lighting, green screen, back drops etc which can be a good long term investment. If this is another situation where you're like, "Absolutely not! I can't!" as I mentioned before, hit up your local university's film department and do an exchange of services. Bartering is CLUTCH!
There are tons of video editing apps that make creating a standard video almost effortless. I used Videoleap to create "From Your Lips 2 God's Ears." In the App Store it costs $35.99 a year, for unlimited access to all of the apps features and it is very user friendly. They also have a partnership with Getty Images where you can purchase the rights to use affordable stock footage to help tell your story.
Work with your family and friends. They will most likely support your vision in exchange for some love. If you can't keep it simple and end up having to collaborate with lots of folks on set, make sure you visit the CDC website to ensure you are following COVID guidelines! One of my cousins took the Covid Compliance Officer training. This person is your designated person for making sure COVID policies are in place and the environment is sage. This training was $50.00 and available here! At the end of the training you receive a certificate and all the information you need to ensure a safe set!
Please be advised there are other legal aspects when you work with a crew of people. For example, contracts and waivers to use their name and likeness for your production. A membership with LegalZoom can get you access and advise on how to navigate that ship if you decide to go that route.
Shoot alone! You'll only have to worry about hydrating and feeding yourself. Lol. However, if you need characters and other staff, you'll need to consider catering especially if it will be a long set. You cannot have folks starved and passing out on ya. Follow your local state guidelines on breaks and meals to keep your people fed and happy. An affordable option I've used in the past is buying a couple cases of bottled water and ordering a large Subway sandwich with a vegan option. For those that have heavy diet restrictions, I recommend they bring their own meal.
Here are the results of my partnering with a local student and making the best of what I already have! I hope this inspires you to get out there and make some dope content. Trust yourself and your vision. Sometimes we doubt ourselves out of the greatest ideas.
Hair Styling $100.00
Clothing $0. I used items I already had in my closet
Props $0 I used items I had around my home (i.e. microphone, stool, tray table, blanket, sheet set, etc.)
Location $0 at the Sandia Mountains (Albuquerque, NM)
Self Edited $0
No cast, just me... $0 (My uncle came on set with me to help me carry around everything I needed!)
That's a total of $275.00