Monday 24 February 2014


READ THIS : Please bare in mind that this is just how I have approached filmmaking. These are things that have worked for me, they may or may not work for you. I'm not saying there is a right way or a wrong way to do these things I can only speak from my own experience and point of view. There is also no substitute for hard work. With that in mind Read on. 

It's fair to say that No Budget filmmaking is becoming more common, the drop in the price of technology and accessibility to cameras and computers has seen to that and made it all tremendously easy, I mean its highly likely that right now your reading this on something that capable of shooting and editing a movie. So I'm shocked in this day and age that people consider it, not only a myth, but actually something to be looked down upon. In a world where you can make a film and even edit it on your phone, some people still view no budget filmmaking as nothing more than a legend and a fabrication of truth. As someone who spent the first decade as a filmmaker working with pence to make my short films, I want to talk about the truth.


"The No Budget Film Is A Myth"

I've been confronted with a school of thought recently and it has kind of shocked me. Especially as back in 2009 I made my first feature with zero funds. I've always been incredibly proud of the fact that myself and a handful of people looking to break into the industry as actors, camera ops, sound techs, etc, achieved on little more than belief. Yet some people look at this kind of achievement as somehow less valid, because little or no money passed hands.

A still from Dead In The Woods
I think that no budget filmmaking can be 'A Myth' if you want to be. If you're looking for a reason why you 'can't' go out and make movies then I guess it is quite convenient for it to remain just that, A Myth. I didn't have the luxury, as a teenager I didn't have the money to even own my own camera, So I borrowed my friend's camera whenever it was free and used college editing suites or my friend's computer when he wasn't using it for his own projects. 

The first film I ever shot, was on SVHS and cut on a tape deck in an old dusty room at our local college. It sucked (ironically it was about Vampires), but it taught me a lot about how not to make films. More than I'd learned from any of my extensive reading on the subject. See I just simply wasn't interested in 'not' making movies, I was, however, interested in actually going out and doing it.

I spent the next decade making short films, all of which had no or very little budget and learning each time how to make the next one better than the last. Whilst I was at university, most of the students made 3 films during their study time. I made about 25, not all of them good, some of them terrible, but with each one I learned a new lesson about lighting, about sound, about directing actors and about a bunch of other things that I never would have even considered to be important. All on nothing.


I spent the most part of my early teens following low budget filmmakers and trying to learn as much as could from their movies, their writings and sometimes working with some of them. The internet back in 1999 wasn't really the extensive knowledge base that it is now and to learn specifics you couldn't just jump onto youtube and find what you were looking for, you just had to figure it out. I struggled for many years to find a no budget feature though, but I knew there had to be one, but it seemed to just be a legend.

The first appearance of Evil Santa in the MychoVerse
During this time one filmmaker had really stood out to me. Robert Rodriguez, who made his first film, El Mariachi, on £4000 ($7000). After some research I found that Mariachi's budget had been spent on filmstock and that everything else in the film had been snatched up from Roriguez' family and friends. It was at that moment that I realised the no budget film was staring me right in the face.

Film stock was no longer an issue, in 2008 we had inexpensive digital tape (I understand the quality difference, but 28 Days Later was shot on MiniDV and that's good enough for me) and so without that as an expense, the no budget feature was certainly closer to being a reality for me. From here, removing the element of filmstock, I started to see more of my favourite films had been made on little to no money. Evil Dead, Phantasm, some of my favourite movies of all time could have been made today on much less money.

After graduating I had a theory, and that theory was pretty simple. I had made 25, 5 minute long short films on no money, that would amount to 125 mins. I figured that a 90 minute feature was like making 18, 5 minute movies and that was the beginning of the basis for Creepsville.


Whenever this comes up, the first argument I get is where did you get the camera, the computer, the etc, etc, etc. Here's the simple honest truth, I had it. Already. I worked 3 jobs whilst at university and saved up for a camera. Because I knew I was serious about wanting to make films, before I ever had the notion of wanting to make a feature, I spent £300 on the cheapest minidv camera on the market. I bought a computer with my own money to edit my footage on, before I ever had the notion of wanting to make a feature. It took me about 10 years of buying stuff here and there to have everything I needed to make movies. The truth is, if you're serious about this. You'll have it. 

Our 1st werewolf (Fool Moon) made with £land Halloween stock 
Now people say "well that's your budget" and I say to that, no. Whether I had made a feature film or not, I would still have had that stuff. Because I just wanted to make movies. I just got to a point where I could sit on my arse all day waiting for money or I could just go and do it.

See the real truth is that no budget filmmaking is resource based. It's about writing around what you already have. If you want a tank in your movie, but don't have one or have access to one, leave it out. Maybe someone you know has a range rover that you can mount some guns made of toilet paper rolls on. Ok maybe not that, but you get the picture. Work with what you have, with who you have and with where you have.

Our cast were all local, we shot out of hours ( about 6 hours a night) so people just brought thier own snacks. Our locations were all local so there was very little travel involved, it was all just a matter of using what we had accessible.

The Original 'Cleaver' from Clowning Around
It's same when it comes to gear. In this day and age everyone has some form of camera and editing facility on thier laptop, on thier phone, on their tablet, or know someone who does. Just use what you have, don't have film lights, use work lights or bed side lamps or whatever, just go out and do it and play to your strengths. With Creepsville we had what we needed to do it, then ironically the Univerisity allowed us to borrow some old gear after hours during the summer holidays, however the old gear was still better than our current gear and so we went with that, but the lesson remains the same. If you look for excuses you'll find them forever. The irony is, if you look for other ways, you'll find them forever too.


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Monday 17 February 2014


 READ THIS : Please bare in mind that this is just how I have approached filmmaking. These are things that have worked for me, they may or may not work for you. I'm not saying there is a right way or a wrong way to do these things I can only speak from my own experience and point of view. There is also no substitute for hard work. With that in mind Read on

So you've written your killer script (pun intended), Now what? What do you do with your 90+ pages of awesomeness. You could try and sell it sure, that is pretty tough (although not impossible) but if you're a first time screenwriter it going to be difficult. You could produce it yourself, but how would you raise the money to do so? Well, as with everything, The internet has the answer.  ;)

If you haven't heard about crowdfunding by now, well I'm not sure why you're reading this. Crowdfunding through IndieGoGo and Kickstarter is now a very viable tool in funding your project, be it a movie, an album, a video game or even a sex dungeon that specialises in Dwarf bondage. It has become a very useful tool for audiences to decide what they want to see, play, listen to and gives them a chance put thier money where thier mouth is and make projects happen. 

In 2010 crowdfunding was still in its relative infancy, but we used a combination of early IndieGoGo (when it was still only available in $) and our own similar paypal based system where people could essentially donate small amounts of money for thanks credits, DVD's and Posters, to help raise money toward our budget for Slasher House. We raised a small amount of money this way (about 10%), as we were realativly unknown beyond a few shorts and Creepsville (our first no budget feature affair) that at the time one of Warner Bro's Independent subs were interested in, Due  to the success of Paranormal Activity. 

We raised the rest of the money for Slasher House through private investment amongst ourselves and close friends and family members and manged to raise enough to push us to production and kind of wrote off crowdfunding as a viable option for us as we felt it had been largely unsuccessful for us. However, a couple of years later, as Slasher House picked up a bit of speed and press, we started to get a lot of messages asking if we would be be doing another 'kickstarter' for our next movie, Legacy Of Thorn, which we had announced earlier in the year. 

It was something I wasn't keen on, I didn't really enjoy the stress of it the last time we'd tried it, There was a lot of maintenance needed doing to keep interest up and it became a 24/7 job. Yet this time, I felt, we had enough interest before even started to justify it. We were already pouring all of our own money into it, as well as into post production costs to get Slasher House ready to be distributed, so we decided to give it a shot to raise some of our budget.


Although there are a variety of options these days in terms of where you set up your crowd funding, There are two main platforms that most people take on. IndieGoGo and Kickstarter. They both work in a very similar way. You set a target and then offer incentives of various values that contributors receive in return for their contribution. 

There are subtle differences, 


 Kickstarter offers a target based service, In which, if the target is not met then no funding is received and no contributors are charged. This is a great idea as it forces you to work around the clock to make sure you get those donations in. Its not like you're Veronica Mars, so chances are you gonna have to work your butt of earn those contributions. Upside is, that you won't be left in a tough position should you only hit some of your target.


IndieGoGo offers the same service, as well as another which allows you to keep any contribution you get for a higher fee to IndieGoGo themselves, however the fee is reduced if the target is met.  So even if you don't meet your target you keep all contributions given. 

It sounds like the better option, however it became obvious very quickly that it was riddled with pit falls. I'll talk about that later.

Oh, yeah. We went with IndieGoGo, based on raising as much as we could there and then making up the difference ourselves if needs be. 


IndieGoGo have a template built in that is very helpful in covering what you should include in your information to make your project more appealing, which I found very helpful as this was the first time I had attempted this on any serious level. What you need to do is ensure that you spend this time really selling your project, discussing why you want to make it,why people should want to watch it, why people should want to get behind it.

You should go into specific depth about what each one of incentives is (Including their terms and conditions), Explain what each one actually entails. If one of the incentives is a ticket to the premiere, for instance, are you covering travel, hotels? If so mention that, if not, make it clear. You need to make sure that contibutors understandfully what they are getting into. 

It's important to let people know how the money will 'Help' your production. In our case we had some very specific costumes needed making and very specific props that needed building. On top of that there were some big effects shots that we wanted to achieve that needed some specialised equipment that we just didn't have a work around for, so we explained where we would be spending the money, how it would help us and how it would improve the production. This is an area I wish we had gone into more detail in, simply for our own sake. But it really does help to let people know exactly where thier contributions are going. 

I see crowd funding campaigns everyday that are literally 1 or 2 lines, that read like 

"Its a zombie film, about zombies eating people and people trying to survive being eaten by zombies" 

and they offer stuff like 'Special Thanks' for £1000 and then wonder why their own £1 pledge from their mum is the only contribution. Be thorough here, it'll be worth it. 

You can check the page for our it here

Although please note the videos have since gone. 


The real key to a sucessful crowdfunding campaign is here, you need to be prepared. For Legacy Of Thorn I had some stuff ready, in the form of artwork, the Thorn short film that we had made back in 2009 on £0 (it had won some awards too which helped) and of course we had Slasher House about to hit major stores in the UK, which features the title character. This was all stuff we already had in place from early pre production. You can view the no budget short film below. 

After that we prepared a pitch video, In which. I sat in front of the camera and just pitched our movie in as short a time as I could. It was a simple talking head video that just went through the information in the campaign, but people tend to find video more engaging than just reading and it plays a huge part in making others want to contribute.

Over the course of the campaign we added more incentives based on what was popular or by request.  We did social media shout outs to contibutors, which in turn helped us find more contibutors. We did interviews, sent out press releases, did video up dates and cast announcements, all in the name of getting people interested and keeping them interested.

We prepared a strategy well in advance and every step of the campaign was planned out mine before we implemented it. We let the campaign built up a bit of a buzz and that got us into the local paper and even onto BBC radio with Ted Robbins from League Of Gentlemen (That's a big comedy show in the UK, I don't know how big it was in the rest of the world), All of which we had planned to do from the outset (Although the Ted Robbin's thing was a bonus). 

As preparation goes, we made one huge mistake. We didn't pre announce the campaign, we didn't get people ready invest, we launched it and then realised that the flood gates were open and no flood was coming in. All the guys who had asked us to do a campaign for the movie went silent. By the end not one single person who had emailed me asking me to do so had contributed anything. However, a lot of other people did, which we are eternally grateful for and these are the people that helped us really make a difference when it came to making the movie. 



That really comes down to what kind of project your making, in regards to making a film. We offered Thanks Credits, Signed Posters, Digital Downloads, DVDs, Walk On roles, Screenused Props, Producer Credits amongst other things. All of them obviously related to the film and all them exclusive to the campaign.

We used the incentives to get people not only interested in investing, but also to drum up excitment about the project itself. We did competitions in conjunction with the release of Slasher House and entered everyone who donated anything into a raffle to encourage smaller donations. 

However we only offered things that we knew we could deliver, people were warned that there maybe delays on somethings, especially set appearances and such, but we were very careful not to offer incentives that we couldn't make good on. 


The biggest problem we came across straight away, were the fees that IndieGoGo began to apply to every payment. Instead of holding the money till the end of campaign, every payment was placed in our company account, with IndieGoGo's fees already taken off and then on top of that paypal took a fee too, so we lost a decent percentage of each investment before it even got to us. That might not sound like an issue, but as we hit just under a £1000 we realised that if the campaign wasn't sucessful we were going to be left with 3 choices. 

Make the movie on a portion of the budget, borrow the remaining money from the bank or pay the money back, but this time the fees had already been taken and so they would have had to go back out of our own pocket. The pressure to hit target became emmense and it certainly wasnt good for us creatively as suddenly all our effort went into trying to raise money rather than focusing on fine tuning the film.

The biggest issue we had was that we raised 125% of our target, due to round the clock hard work and a very kind contributions for our biggest incentives that helped reach our target a couple of weeks before the campaign ended. However after fees we ended up landing only just over our original actual target. Had we simply hit our target, We would have ended up way further off still. 

I understand that companies need to make their living, so please know that I'm not complaining about these fees, they certainly need to be there to maintain these sites, but if I was going to do it again I would certainly be more wary at the very least. We could have very easily ended up in worse position than when we started and that shouldn't be the case here. 

One more thing. IndieGoGo waited till our campaign had finished before telling us that we couldn't offer stakes in the movie (Our highest incentive offer), but by then it was over, We went through their policy about this, which was clearly labelled on the Kickstarter site, but here on IndieGoGo (at least at the time) was worded in such vague language that we had deemed it safe to offer said incentive at the time. This nearly caused a problem, but we sorted it out privately with those contributors.


I'm not saying that crowdfunding is bad, Quite the opposite, I think its a great tool in regards to giving audiences a voice and creatives a choice in now they fund thier projects. It has its pitfalls, the same way that private investment does or making a movie on no budget does. It is worth bearing in mind that you have to hit way over target to actually hit your budget on the nose. 

That being said, running the campaign saw us find much more support for the project, it built more interest, We ended up on the radio and in the papers, in national magazines, all of which was great for the movie and Slasher House which was just hitting major stores in the UK during the campaign. 

I think that next time (if there is one) we would most likely aim for the Kickstarter option, but I really think that whatever approach you take needs to suit your project. Thorn was happening with or without the campaign so every little toward that helped. If you want your crowdfunding to decide weather your project lives or dies then the Kickstarter option maybe for you. After all it is certainly a lot less pressure. 


Campaign Exclusive Posters for Legacy Of Thorn
A quick side note, Once you've hit your goal (or even if you haven't) it's important to keep your contributors updated on the films progress and the incentives they will be receiving. If, like us, you are small independent studio in North England, keeping to schedule can be tricky, but we do our best to deliver the incentives as soon as they are ready. I hear a lot of stories about people running crowdfunding campaigns and then never receiving thier incentives and you want to avoid being branded one of those people. 

As with anything, do your best to stay on time and if you can't, just let people know. they are usually every understanding. Within reason.

Above all just try to have fun with it, making movies, and even raise money to make movie is stressful. Luckily it's the good kind of stressful, the kind that doesn't see you trapped in a sex dungeon that specialises in Dwarf bondage.

Oh yeah... Heres the Trailer For LEGACY OF THORN


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 Get Legacy of Thorn on DVD and Digital HD now.

Monday 10 February 2014


READ THIS : Please bare in mind that this is just how I have approached filmmaking. These are things that have worked for me, they may or may not work for you. I'm not saying there is a right way or a wrong way to do these things I can only speak from my own experience and point of view. There is also no substitute for hard work. With that in mind Read on. 

Original Concept Poster
A few years ago I had just graduated from University, I had no money and a job with very few hours and very little pay. It was impossible to save anything towards improving my gear etc. In regards to filmmaking this didnt really affect me on a grandscale as I had always made all my short films on next to nothing and so that kind of carried on as usual, as I had never equated making movies with needing cash. 

I carried on making short films, taking everything I had learned from the stuff I made whilst studying and applying the mistakes I made three to what I was producing now. There was an urge in me that I could'nt fight, a film that came to be known as Creepsville. It was a concept I had worked on for years and I knew it had to be a feature, my first feature.  

My intention had always been to raise the money to make it and I had kind of been treading water with shorts till I was in a position where I could afford to make it. Then, one day, whilst I was scrollling through the pages of Fangoria, I read a quote from a filmmaker called Gabrielle Albanesi (Last House In The Woods) and he said something like this : "If you are waiting for money, You are NOT a real filmmaker". That statement hit me like a ton of bricks, It felt like a challenge, a Challenge to me, a challenge to my work ethic and I like a challenge. 

The Horror Channel around the same started to post a no budget filmmakers blog by a filmmaker named Pat Higgins (Whose debut film inspired me to write Slasher House back in 2005) and this gave me a much better idea of how to achieve my goal of putting together a feature length movie. So with nothing but a few inspirational quotes behind me I set out to make my first feature with no money.

There are things that will make this a lot easier, Some I thought about, some I learnt along the way and some stuff I wish I had know whilst I was there. I've taken the liberty of listing some helpful stuff below. 


Pre Production On Creepsville
Sitting down to finally get Creepsville down on paper, I ask my writer friend Paul Thomas, who had much more script writing experience than me, to help me break the story. We used Robert Rodriguez approach of looking at what we had access to and worked from there. We crafted the story with budget in mind and although it limited our scope it made us much more creative in how we handled it. The key to getting it made was writing within our boundaries. 

We knew we had access to an abandoned train tunnel, to the old Mill where I was working at the time, an old abandoned house, a large storage garage (although that eventually had to be reshot somewhere else), a park and various cool urban locations, so we just threw all that stuff into the mix and started using it to set our story of masked maniacs and killer taxi drivers.

Looking at the script I saw we would be shooting a lot of night shots in the streets, which I knew would result in a very orange looking picture. As there was very little way around this with what we had, I decided to make that the films look and colour scheme and it helped turn what could have been a weakness into one of the films strengths.  


Original cheap £shop mask for PumpkinFace
People get too proud and sometimes pride can hold you back, its okay to do it. Ask for help, the worst thing that can happen is that people can say "no" and even then your only back where you started. Just make sure that when people do help you are grateful, and try and pay it forward. A lot of cast and crew came from the local music scene that I was a big part of with being in HockeyMask Heroes and so I managed to call in a great many favours there too. 

Our sound guy on set was the sound guy from the events we put on at weekends. Other than that we kind of just asked people what they could help with and worked from there. One cast member was a makeup artist so we incorporated that, one cast member had a car that we loaned to be our taxi (using a old broken sign that we 'borrowed' from the dumpster outside the taxi rank). We pulled some strings at the University to borrow some better equipment too, But I was quite happy to shoot on a decent miniDV camera that I already had if it had come to it. 

We wanted some very specific mask props from an amazing mask masker at Rubber Gorilla, but they were way out of budget (which was £0 anyways). However, I knew that would lift the value of the film compared to what we had as back up, After a few e-mails and a chat with the guy who made them, he agreed to give us an extended loan and we could buy them if we wanted later or return them. The actors decided they wanted to but thier masks as keepsakes in the end anyways, but all we had to do was ask and the awesome Neal Harvey helped us out. We've used his products for all our movies ever since and he's been more than helpful :) 


People always say that you shouldnt do this, I disgaree to an extent. I had some friends who were actors and my friends had some friends who were actors and we worked from there, making sure that they were local and could get to our central location without any real bother. Not having any money we asked people involved to invest themselves in the project, by bringing food for on set or paying there own travel. 

This of course didn't suit everyone and I was happy to let them go, I simply made sure that everyone involved just wanted to make a movie for the sake of making a movie, I didn't want anyone who wasn't comfortable with spending their own money to put themselves out. We simply wanted to make something, Something that would showcase all our skills as actors, filmmakers, special effects artists, stuntmen, editors, cameramen etc.

I think the only person on the entire set who came from outside our network was the leading lady Helen Pawson who we found on Casting Call Pro. She looked right for the role and so I messaged her and told her about what we were doing, after a meet up and a reading, she agreed to join the cast and we were off. However casting you friends can have its draw backs. Two people pulled out at the beginning of the shoot, one of them a friend of ours who didn't even call to let us know, we just simply got an e-mail saying he couldn't do it the day after he was due on set. 


Reshooting the Garage scene with Helen
Once we had decided to not spend any money and make it on £0, the trick became maintaining that. We borrowed everything we could, including lights, equipment, props and everything in between. Then suddenly we would need something specific and of course the first thought would be to go and buy said item. However we didn't allow for that luxury. 

One night on set we needed the stanley knife prop only to realise that we had lost it. Because we couldn't buy one we had to think of a solution in regards to what we had. A couple of felt pens, a tea light and some gaffer tape later and we had crafted one hell of a prop knife that I'm still proud of to this day. 

The most important thing however, was that it started to teach me that throwing money at problems just wasn't the answer. When your shooting movies on a low budget, every penny counts and I carried these lessons with me onto future productions, Nowadays I only spend money as a last resort.


It's fair to say that the cast and crew were made up of my friends (or friends of friends) who just wanted to get involved in something interesting and we used that excitment that we all felt to see it through. Even waaaay back in 2009 not 'everyone' was making movies and so it was an exciting thing for us all to attempt. 

The sheer size of the project would terrify me now. It had over 32 locations, all of which had to be found with 0 budget. I think the only way we even managed to begin shooting was just by being so excited about making a movie. 


On set With Neil and Co Producer Pete
Our 14 day shooting shedule went to shit after about 3 days, a cast member (a friend of mine) pulled out without any notice or warning and we were stuck. We had already replaced a cast member on Day 2 this was a major blow to us. Luckily the other actors recommended a guy named Andy Greenwood to us, (who you may remember as Cleaver the Killer Clown in Slasher House) and he agreed to join us as an opportunity to get himself out there as an actor after only previously doing stage work. He was the furthest away cast member and he only lived about 30 miles away at the time.

This whole process of replacing the original actor took time out of our shedule however and eventually we went over and began shooting when people were free which took our shoot over into about 5 months, due to one of our locations disappearing overnight. I wish I could tell you thats the only thing that went wrong. Much more on that later. 

My point is, If we hadn't been excited about what we were doing the film would have died after the schedule fell apart. It was only because we were excited it that we kept going. 


Final Artwork
Just believe that you can do it. That's the only thing that really kept me going in the end, was just the simple belief that I could do it. That we could all do it. It can go a long way, something as simple as belief. When everything around you is going wrong you just have to hold on to that. In the current year 2014, you don't even need to try to get a decent image out of a camera that costs £200, theres no reason why you can't go out and shoot your own no budget feature movie with your friends or at least people who are interested in the filmmaking. 

Creepsville is due out later this year after 4 hard years of work, of working around other peoples schedule and personal issues and whatnot, and sat here being the only person left on the project now it sometimes seems hard to keep giving it that extra push, But even then I haven't given up on it and the only reason the film is finished (or there a bouts) is because I believed it could be.

Check Out The Trailer below. The Film will finally be seeing a release on DVD and VOD later this year :)


One of my biggest regrets on Creepsville is my, obvious, lack of hindsight. I wish I had known then what I know now and all that. I've since gone out and made 2 budgeted films (be that extremely Micro Budget) but I always look back at my first feature with fondness and admire the youthful persistence that I had there whilst making it. I love the idea of a bunch of people just getting together and making a movie, for fun, as a challenge and I think about the overall hellish experience with a great fondness.

So In the interests of that I decided that I would do it again. Following the above steps, this spring/summer we'll be going out and shooting another zero budget movie called "I've Got Better Things To Do Tonight Than Die' you can keep up with it HERE. It's a project that I've had on the back burner for sometime and last year found the perfect way to approach it with a no budget attitude. I have no doubt it'll be tough, because no budget filmmaking can be hell and I don't know why anyone would put themselves throughout that. 

Then again, I like a challenge. 



Monday 3 February 2014


READ THIS : Please bare in mind that this is just how I have approached filmmaking. These are things that have worked for me, they may or may not work for you. I'm not saying there is a right way or a wrong way to do these things I can only speak from my own experience and point of view. There is also no substitute for hard work. With that in mind Read on. 

Over the past 4 years I have made 3 Feature Length films, with prep production currently going on for our 4th and 5th (More On that later). One of the most common things I get asked about is funding. Where did the money come from to make each of these movies? Well the fact is that each one was funded in a very specific and different way from the other. 

Each film we made took a very different approach and each had its benefits and its downfalls, some more than others. Now please bear in mind every single film we've made has been no or very low budget and each was produced with its budgetary limitations in mind from the start. My approach has always been to use budgetary limitation to my advantage.


You don't need money to make movies. That's a fact. It helps, sometimes a bit sometimes a lot, but in all honesty, especially in this day and age, you don't need money to make movies and more importantly you don't need money to make a 'good' movie. 

People always give me an off look when I say that. Like I'm mental, which is fair, because I proabably was for attempting it in the first place, but it's true. 

In 2009 I had no money after graduating from University and a job that paid minimumm wage that had very few hours available and so I had no spare money whatsoever. I decided to go and make a film anyway. That film was Creepsville, which with a bit of luck should be available later this year.

On Set of Creepsville
To pull it off, I essentially called in favours from anyone and everyone I knew. People we knew, or our friends knew made up the cast and crew and we borrowed equipment from the university or from parents, friends and everyone in between. The sets were places we knew well and I often joke that you can see the whole movie from the back window of the university building (I've even mentioned in on this blog before), but that is absolutley true. 

The film was a pure labour of love and it had to be, because when pulling favours nothing goes to plan and our scheduled 14 day shoot soon became 5 months and a year later we were still going back for pick ups and what not. Everything in the film was begged, borrowed and stolen and of course that had its own downfalls. We had to work with what we had, but it made me appreciate all of it in the long run, because not one second of it was easy. 

Doing a film this way on the absolute barest of bones taught me more than I have ever learned in a classroom and Creepsville was certainly the best 'film school' I ever could have hoped for. Even if I lost most of my friends in the process.


For my second feature Slasher House (Available Here) I knew that it was going to cost a bit of money. There were some very specific props and costumes that needed building as well as a very integral location that would need paying for and so I set about looking for funding amongst the film boards and grants here in the UK. Every road led to nowhere and eventually I sat down and figured out we could do it on about £5000 if everything was tight and we could find a cheap location.

Adam on set Slasher House
First of we had to cut crew size down to about 5 people, with a couple also doubling up as actors and of course a huge expense came from the fact that UK health and safety laws stopped us getting access to any derelict buildings. Luckily The Isle Of Man (A small island country off the coast of the UK) were more than accommodating and offered us an adandoned prison for about a 3rd of our proposed budget.

However we still didnt have that budget, Our producer insisted that he found the money for it and we came in with a very kind 80% investment from himself/his parents. I took on the rest of the cost by buying our gear on credit and paying it off over the following year and then took on the post production and reproduction costs on a month by month basis over the next 2 years to get it to the finish line and score its eventual release. We asked anyone who could to pay their own travel and luxuries (We supplied 3 basic meals a day). On top of that we slept in the prison for 3 weeks to keep accommodation costs down. 

We also set up own kickstarter type thing (before they were popular, cause we're really cool and hipster and all that) and managed to raise a small amount of budget by offering credits, thanks and dvd's for small donations to the cause. We raised round about £350 this way.

The downside of this, is that films like this rarely make any money back, and due to reproduction and distribution costs making a profit on even a film this small proves difficult. Which means that investors may not see their money back. To me that is something that I don't feel very comfortable with, So my advice would be to find very understanding investors and try and limit their expectations, as most low budget movies never make a penny. The best you can hope for is that the film is a successful achievement for those involved.


Its all the rage now, to raise money online for making these things. After a lot of persuasion from fellow team members and a lot of interest from other people we decided that Legacy Of Thorn would be funded via crowdfunding. This approach has a lot of pros and lots of cons. I'm not sure if its something I would ever do again. 

Firstly I did a lot of preperation, making sure that we had enough content to give people a good idea of what the film would be like. Being based on a Slasher House Character and a short film I shot in 2009 that wasn't too difficult. Our biggest problem was that all the interest that had led us to do the kick starter in the first place dropped off (Not one person who emailed me to ask if we could do a crowdfunding campiagn for the film contributed toward it). Luckily a lot of other people donated and having Slasher House out in the world helped our cause tremendously. 

We made £1000 over our target, but we then lost close to that in fees from Indiegogo (The actual platform we used) and then paypal took a large cut on top of that. We had one investor who put a large amount of that money into the campaign and helped us hit our target. It was a hell of month though and it took so much energy away from concentrating on the film, worrying about whether we would hit the target or not. 

Jane Haslehurst on the set for Legacy Of Thorn
I think in the end though we were lucky that we hit our target, we used Indiegogo and that meant that whatever came into the indiegogo went straight to the company account after charges. Which means had we only had £1000 donated we would have had to have made the film on that (after fees) or paid that money back from our own pocket which would have put us in a worse position than when we started. So beware, If i'd known that going in I would have done things much differently.

However the film has its first screening February 28th and looks it like it will be hitting DVD/BluRay and VOD later this year :)


I guess that depends on where you are in your career. If it's your first film I strongly suggest you write and make something that costs nothing and work your way up from there. You'll learn more by making a movie than you ever will waiting for money. 

There are a billion other ways you can probably fund your film, these are the ways I have. If you're rich, you can probably invest in yourself and if you're not, you can probaly chase grants etc, but the ways I have funded these things so far have been the most viable in terms of keeping creative control, which is ultimately what you lose when taking large amounts of money from other people.

Whichever direction you go make sure that the film comes first, because in the end that's the most important thing.

Over the next month I'll go into a little bit more detail about each approach, funding is by far the most annoying part of filmmaking, But unless your well off or Bruce Wayne then it's gotta be done.


How have you funded your films? How do you raise money to make what you make? Let us know In the Comments below.