Dead Wood – The experiment

We set out to make a project that would act as an example and hopefully motivate new talent in the film industry by showing what can be achieved on a very low budget, using readily accessible equipment that is with us as an everyday part of the new digital world we are in.

There are a number of new film makers out there, that are sitting back waiting for money to be given to them to make their first feature film. The problem is, you need to make your first feature film before anyone would want to give you money. So what do you do?

The world of film has shrunk; it no longer is an expensive industry with the introduction of digital equipment and the internet. We set out to highlight this by embarking on Dead Wood, a film shot on a low end spectrum of camera but still has Full HD capability at a frame rate of 24fps… similar to that of a high end mobile phone.

We chose to go with the horror genre and opted to do a Zombie film, was this a tad ambitious? Perhaps… it certainly added a cost that could have been avoided if we went with something else BUT how much fun is it to be a zombie? Everyone is part of that kill or be killed scenario and gets to bring their character to life.

We decided to shoot the majority of the film outside to reduce need for lighting and limited the dialogue so it can be done as ADR after the edit was finalised.

We used social networking sites to acquire our cast of enthused actors and actresses looking to be given a chance to be put on screen and also highlighted our project to other established people in the industry (again, all accessible through social networking sites) for their input. We were fortunate enough to have got Hollywood stunt co-ordinators, known actors, award winning editors and experienced composers all willing to be a part of it – which in turn gave the less experience first-hand opportunities to watch and learn.

The editing process can be done on any PC or Mac using software that is downloadable with a limited free trial option.

With the final payoff being that you have a selection of sites that can then host the finished product I.E YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion to distribute and share to the general public, allowing others to view what you can do, an in our case hopefully inspire others to set out and do better.

Are there drawbacks to this? Of course there is, you need commitment from everyone involved and that has to be accompanied with flexibility and all bundle together with a huge dose of enthusiasm for when that wains, you need pure grit and determination to carry on.

No matter how low your funds are, there is a cost… there is a cost to everything, from the basics of catering and make up, to personal costs of travel, time and wardrobe. When asking others to brunt their own costs, be sure to be clear, do not make promises you cannot keep and remember, what you do for one, you should do for everyone… treating everyone equal is key to a solid team. However, as long as you are not making any demands or asking unreasonable requests, do not feel you cannot wear your producer’s hat and make a hard call, it is still a project that only benefits everyone once it’s completed, and so getting it finished should be everyone’s main priority. So be prepared to do what you must, even if it means replacing crew and cast and re-shooting scenes already in the can.

So that is the goal behind Dead Wood, our zombie horror action film that is being made for less than £500 with a great bunch of people using all readily available digital resources. We all hope that finished product will encourage you to go do the same, bigger and better as we will look forward to showcasing our efforts and viewing yours.