How to Make A Movie with No Budget (in 5 steps)

How to Make A Movie with No Budget (in 5 steps)

I’ve worked on movies and shorts with a very little budget before. Some were good, some were bad. I’m not saying I have complete authority over the subject, but I have a few ideas, tricks, and tips to share with you today.


EVERYTHING. If you need a forest, use the park. If you need a supermarket scene, just film in the supermarket discreetly. If you need props, and think you don’t have it, you probably do. Just check the attic or grandmas house. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, combine stuff. The last thing you should do is actually going you and buying the stuff. Also, make sure you buy the items psychically as much as possible. Items from Amazon can be smaller than you realized, or they can just plain not work.

2. Thrift Stores are your friend

When you need new stuff, thrift stores like Goodwill are your best friend. Stuff there is dirt cheap (for the most part) and if you’re doing a comedy all sorts of funny and random items can be found there. Savers is another great place to go when searching for assorted props and items. One film I made required a destroyed TV, and we found one at Savers that worked perfectly and was super cheap. Most towns have at least one Goodwill, and if not, Pawn Shops might have what you need.

3. Keep your budget in mind

While you shouldn’t let your budget stop your dreams, it’s also important to keep it in mind when making your film. You can have as many big, cinematic, and effects-heavy elements as you like, but make sure you’re thinking of your budget concurrently. Don’t attempt an epic Lord of the Rings style battle if you only have $200 dollars in your budget.

4. Get Your Friends!

You’d be surprised what your friends might have lying around the house, and you also might find that some of them are pretty good actors. Tell your friends you’re making a movie, and they will most likely help out or supply you with stuff. Your friend’s dad might have a professional light, or your other friend’s sister might be a pretty good actor, who knows? If you’re in theater class, ask someone in the class who’s good at portraying characters to be in your film. Don’t be shy, now! Making connections is very important in the world of movie making, so be sure to start early.

5. Lighting is simple

Lighting is something that many amateur filmmakers stumble over. You don’t necessarily need a super professional lighting rig to make your scenes look good. Use lamps and house light for your scenes. Big lighting rigs might be a little more professional, but they are quite expensive. Lamps worked fine, and even flashlights will do in a pinch. At this stage in your film making career, focus more on editing and audio. Speaking of which…

6. The Audio Problem

Audio is what I struggle with the most when making movies. It’s very difficult to master the art of good sound, especially when filming outside. But there are solutions! One is pretty simple, just don’t film outside and tell the people around you to be quiet before you film. But sometimes, outdoor scenes are required, and this is where it gets complicated. One solution is to purchase clip-on mics. While these are pretty expensive, they are worth it. If you don’t have the money, just pay very close attention to the weather in your area. Don’t film near a moving river and don’t film when it’s windy. Scenes filmed near roads are notoriously tricky, so if your film requires a scene near heavy traffic, make sure your camera is located close to the actor for dialogue scenes.