Can you afford good actors?
I’m keeping this short because it’s the holidays and many of us have a lot going on.
Last week, on the show I talked about how you can make your science fiction movie for less than a thousand bucks.
Sidenote: Today, I found a supernatural thriller that cost $500 to make: The Cube. That’s half price!
When I posted this on Twitter, not everyone thought this was possible or reasonable.
“What about good actors,” some friendly folks on Twitter asked.
Thanks for asking, Danny and Kevin!
Danny advises, “Good (actors) rarely work for free. And free ones aren’t always that good.”
Sometimes, free ones don’t even show up!
If your script, sets, lighting, cinematography, directing, editing, and music are outstanding, but the acting is terrible – you’ve got a big problem.
Without good acting, your movie won’t even be watchable.
Good actors are not optional.
This begs the question: can you make a science fiction film for less than a thousand bucks and still get good actors?
You can do it!
I’m not saying it’s easy or a sure thing, but you should be able to pull this off.
Let’s be realistic; there’s no way this will work if the actor is union (SAG-AFTRA). Maybe you’ll be able to use them on your next film – or the one after that.
On last week’s show, I suggested offering a key cast member a producer credit in the project instead of paying them. If the movie makes money, they get a percentage on the back end.
Make them a collaborator. Hopefully, they’ll be excited about your movie. And it’s their movie, too.
Not everyone is going to go for this. What if they say no?
We’re filmmakers! We’re supposed to be creative. It’s time to get creative. Here are a few ideas:
- You could produce an amazing showreel for the actor. Notice, I said “amazing”. This showreel could even include a scene from your movie.
- Find out what else they need that could help their acting career. Ask them what they need. It’s not always about the money.
- Another method you could try is to work on their project(s) for free in exchange for them working on your project for free. Many actors have a project they would love to get off the ground.
Don’t be afraid to ask.
And remember, you shouldn’t be trying to take advantage of these actors. This should be a mutually beneficial arrangement if it’s going to work.
Let’s get real
Sometimes, you’ll just have to pay for a good actor. You may not be able to make your movie for less than a thousand bucks, but you can still keep your costs way down.
One secret to keeping your costs down is planning. I talked about this last week. If you plan your project well and shoot efficiently, your actor can get in, shoot their scenes, and get out quickly.
Keep your cast size as small as possible. The larger the cast, the longer it takes to shoot your scenes.
Minimize the number of locations you use. Use just a few great locations and reuse them as much as possible. This minimizes the expense of moving cast and crew and really speeds up the process.
To me, these are obvious techniques. I absolutely believe you can still make your movie for less than a grand. Or a little more.
I’m sure many of you have other ideas on getting actors for free. I’d love to hear them. Reach out to me on Twitter. My handle is @mediamitch.
Go out there and prove me right!
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