Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #109

And who really needs a highly trained cat with what CGI can do these days…?

Seagulls will act for breadcrumbs. So will pigeons and doves (even in slow motion!).

Dogs can act for their favorite treats (for example, bacon, which could indicate I was a dog, too, I suppose).

Good luck with cats, iguanas, snakes, spiders, or anything else.

I hear cats can be trained, but I probably won’t be counting on a decent cat trainer being nearby when I need a highly trained cat.

Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #103

“…This one’s eating my popcorn!”

Punchlines work best at the end of the joke. This goes for a verbal punchline, a visual punchline, a story punchline, whatever. Set it up with the audience, let them build up a little interest in the Anticipation Bank, and then deliver the punchline.

It’s a trick I picked up doing stand-up and improv. It’s weird to think that there’s a mechanical aspect to comedy, but it sure seems to work.

And by “punchline,” I include non-comic things as well. Even in a dramatic moment, unless you’re very, very Memento-style clever, there’s a “punchline,” a place where something is revealed that makes sense of what you’ve already seen in a way you didn’t expect.

Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #98

Or buy a typewriter, ya pansy!

You don’t need fancy software to write a script — any word processor will do. The thing to remember is that no matter how much you spend on software and learning curve time, you’re basically producing a document that’s supposed to look like it came out of a 1920’s typewriter.

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Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #41

Except when they’re in the bathroom.

When writing a script, keep track of each character, and always try to know what they’re doing at any given point in the narrative, even if we never see it in the script or in the movie. Doing this helps keep the timing right, and the rhythm of the movie benefits from it.

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Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #40

Or even a Furby!

Anyone who thinks animation has to be hyper-realistic in order to be emotionally connective never cried watching Bambi. Conversely, the more realistic an animation is, unless it is indistinguishable from real life, the creepier it is, even if it’s supposed to be happy. At best, you can achieve a creepy sort of happy. Usually, that becomes a “fail.”

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Low-Budget Filmmaking Tip #4

Sand makes for a terrible foundation

Make sure the story makes sense and the script makes sense before you start. Cause and effect should make sense. Motivations should be pretty clear. What happens at different times and places should be obvious. The script is the blueprint, and everybody uses it. Where it’s weak, everything else is weak.

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