It’s About the Story

By: Stormy Hupp and Erin McLynch

It’s a common misconception that filmmaking requires top of the line equipment, a big crew and a deep pocket of change. In my time at school I have realized that it’s not at all about how much money you have, the size of your crew or what camera you use; it’s about the story. At the end of the day, when audiences are watching a film they’re invested in the story. The point of a film is to transport your audience to another time and place and to evoke emotions; to make them laugh, scream and cry. The best filmmaking is invisible, which means the focus is on the story. When you have done your job as a filmmaker effectively, the audience won’t care about the camera you used or your budget or the size of the crew; at the end of film all they remember is the story.


There have been great films shown at Sundance that were shot entirely on an iPhone. Plenty of major motion pictures have been shot on a DSLR and they look equally as cinematic and get the message across just as well as a top of the line Arri Alexa camera would. DSLRs are a great option to shoot your film on a low budget because they are very affordable and look very professional. Not to mention, there are several benefits of using a smaller camera, such as, it allows you more freedom to move around freely and to get creative shots that you couldn’t get with a large bulky camera. It also cuts down on crew and time which saves money. If you’re using a small camera you don’t need to spend time on set building the camera and you don’t need several people just to run it which is important if you’re low on budget or crew members.

Screen Shot 2016-06-30 at 6.27.25 PM.png

We are storytellers first and filmmakers second. Our main focus and goal at the end of the day is to tell a good story; stop focusing on money, cameras, and budget that you don’t have and instead focus on the story and the tools you do have.



Further Reading:



Image references:




No Budget to Low Budget: Marketing for the low based on Drake

No Budget to Low Budget:Marketing for the low based on Drake

By Chad Happens & Crawford Norman III

     In the Digital Age we now live in it means nothing to create visual content if no one in the whole wide connective world sees it. If you have major studio, network, or a major content provider’s backing all you have to do is throw money into the marketing department and call it a day. However, if you are a poor independent filmmaker you have some work ahead of you. It can get a bit technical, but here are a few tips on how to grow your social media presence using Drake.


Started From the Bottom now we Hashtag

#PIGGYBACKING – Hashtags are essentially the 6 degrees of separation of the internet. You’re so close to a celebrity and one Repost away from being seen.  

So here is what you do:

  1. HASHTAG LIFE | Create a hashtag for you brand and project – #Brand #Project
  2. STACK + BOOST | Add at-least three to five (3 to 5) more hashtags that relate to film, your particular project, and ANYTHING related to it.
  3. FOLLOW + FOLLOW BACK | On whichever social network you’re using, search those Hashtags and FOLLOW others who’ve used them as well. They will more than likely follow you back. That’s a plus for you.
  4. REPOST + TAG | You likely didn’t work on your project alone (If you did you deserve a trophy), so tag them and have them repost it and ask others to follow and repost.


Views for the 6 (major social media sites)

These are a few of the top social networks Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tumblr and YouTube.

  1. You need to create an account on all of them and stay as close to the same name/handle as possible.
  2. Make sure you create separate accounts for your personal stuff and your work. If you create a brand page instead of specific project page you can feature your future projects w/o having to create new accounts. Follow Lionsgate on any network you’ll see how they change for each project.
  3. There are FREE scheduling apps/websites that will post things for you when you don’t have time.
  4. Your brand/project account isn’t you so NO PERSONAL STUFF



Take Care (of your Audience)

One thing about social media is that you have to be social.

  • Talk to your audience /reply back / get feed back.
  • Be nice and personable. People will not support you if you’re being an asshole.
  • If you really wanted to build some social media karma it is ok to support other’s work.

These tips will surely have you ready for success like ya boy Drizzy Drake.


Quality Faith-based Films Can Be Made with a Low Budget

Faith-based films are growing in popularity and can be done at low-cost by emerging filmmakers. They have a strong following and there are many famous people passionate about it who will perform for a lower cost if they believe in the story. One great example is the movie, Miracles from Heaven. With a low budget of $13 million it domestically grossed over $61 million and with famous names attached, Jennifer Garner and Queen Latifah. Also, Heaven is for Real had a low budget of $12 million and the domestic gross amount is over $91 million.



Why Religious Movies Are Luring Mainstream Stars:

Faith-based films are building a following at the box office:

Why audiences flock to faith-based films:

Faith-based films made on a budget. Can the new wave transcend propaganda?:

How Do Get Started in Christian Films:

It is possible to find people who have a passion for faith-based films and make a low-budget film and find distributers if you have a great story. Green Apple Entertainment is a leading, worldwide sales agent, distributor and aggregator of quality, independent entertainment.

Green Apple Entertainment:

Looking for Help Finding a Distributor?

Chris Vander Kaay is a filmmaker-producer who has cultivated many good relationships with distribution companies in his time working.  He is looking to help other Christian filmmakers get their work to distributors.  There are NO upfront fees.  The only fees involved are if the film finds distribution.  Contact Chris at In The Margin.

Exploration Films is seeking value-based and family oriented programming for distribution consideration.

Written by Katherine Dudley and Will Hewell

Short Films; Maximum Impact

In the independent world of filmmaking, budgets are tight, crews are small, and time is of the essence. Anyone can get out and make a short film if they have a camera, some talent, and a few nice looking locations. But who wants to just make a short that gets no notoriety? In the film business of making shorts it’s important to take proper steps in making your short so that it can have a maximum impact that could get a feature into the making.

Lets discuss a film that was a short to begin with, but later had so much impact that it was made into a feature. Saw (2004) was made on a $2,000 budget, and was shot in just one week. This film managed to get so many views and hype behind it through film festivals that within a years time the feature was released. Director James Wan says its important to be passionate about your films creation and the ideas put into it, had he not been this project may not have appealed to the people it did. The style needs to feel expressive of the story being told. In the short film Saw (2003), they recreated their own personal nightmare with a tension that is contagious to anyone who views it. The feature was made only one year later and went on to make $103,880,027 worldwide. This feature went on to create 6 sequels, and became a worldwide phenomenon going on to gross $878,139,093 and that’s not including DVD or Video sales.

Saw Franchise

With a success like mentioned above, short films of its kind are making their way into features more often. Another famous short by the name of “Lights Out”, which in its true short form is only 2:42 in length and was created back in 2013.The short, went viral, and James Wan saw it and contacted the Director David F. Sandberg. This short has now been made into a feature by the same title ‘Lights Out’ that will be released worldwide on July 22, 2016.

Lights Out Feature Screengrab

These films had so much impact due to their creators having relentless passion, and a determination to get the job done. They were focused on being able to appeal to their crowds by creating shorts that they wanted to watch themselves.

Saw (Short):

Lights Out (Short):

Articles on Saw and Lights Out Creations:

Interview with James Wan and Leigh Whannell

How the 3-minute Short ‘Lights Out’ became a Hollywood Feature

Written By: Kierra Colston & Blake Heffelfinger



5 Interview Tips for the Entertainment Industry

By Gabriel Iath & Eduardo Avila.

The crucible of the job search is the interview. Even if you know the person who’s hiring, it’s a formality that all the job applicants have to undertake. Here are five interview tips that will help you hit it out of the park.

1 – Break the ice!

Shipping Season Opens

Author and co-founder of “Just for Laughs” Andy Nulman writes that it’s vital to break the ice in the first 90 seconds of meeting the employer. By doing so, you have a much better chance of having a smooth interview and leaving a great impression. Small talk is your friend, but remember to talk about subjects that aren’t controversial. Talk about something industry related like box office numbers, films in development, new TV shows, and executive decisions.

2 – Know your employer.

People Harvey Weinstein

It sounds obvious, but you’d be surprised by the amount of people that walk into an interview without knowing anything about the company. Employers have dozens of candidates for that opening, and you are just wasting everyone’s time if you don’t do your research. Here’s a useful way to display your knowledge, according to author Jenny Martin: “(…)as I’m walking you out of the lobby, gesture to the giant posters of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie on the way and say, “IMDB says you guys have a sequel in the works,” and I know you know how to prep for an interview. I’m already glad I met with you and we haven’t even gotten to my office!”

3 – Sound confident.

Ayrton Senna

This is more of a general note for interviews: if you sound like you know what you’re talking about, people will perceive you as a knowledgeable person. Don’t go too far or you can sound pretentious and even fake. Sounding confident is key to making a great impression and having people remember you. Don’t confuse it with sounding confident about subjects you have no knowledge about. People in hiring positions can see right past your fake confidence.

4 – Tell a story.

Molly Maguires

Employers will generally go over your resume then ask you to tell a story that proves that you have the necessary skillset for the job. Come prepared! The story you will tell will vary based on the position you’re interviewing for, keep that in mind. For example: if you’re interviewing for a director of photography position, a good story would be how you successfully lit a scene with minimal equipment. The key to these stories is displaying how you overcame an obstacle in order to succeed.

5 – Tell the employer you WANT the job.

Michel Temer

Many people assume that because they took the interview it means the employer knows they want the job. It might be the case, but verbally communicating it reinforces that you’re actively pursuing a job with that company. After the interviewer has finished talking, tell him how excited you are for this opportunity and that you would love to work there.


Photos from the AP

TREADICAM – How to create filmmaking equipment on a budget.

By: Charity Gibson and Anthony Hubbard

Have you ever wanted to create an artistic, aesthetic look to your film without spending tons of money on equipment? Well, I have a solution for you. I call it the treadicam. It’s a tripod that converts into three different ways to use: steadicam, shoulder rig and tripod. Let me explain how I created this concept and put it to the test.


First off, I want to let you know where you can acquire the equipment you will need for this idea. The thrift shop is one place I know where you can come across tons of used camera equipment. I personally went to a few and bought a couple tripods for less than ten dollars a piece. This is super great if you are on a strict budget.

Once you have a tripod you would like to convert, you can easily look up various videos on the worldwide web that cover many ways to convert it. The link below shows you one example of converting a tripod to a steadicam. I did a similar thing to mine and was successful in using it with some added weight to the opposite end of the camera, to balance the weight. This in turn created some very smooth moving shots.

After a period of time, I wanted to try another approach. I realized I could easily change my tripod to be a shoulder mount by resting two legs on my shoulder, while the other leg extended down in front of me. This made it easy to hold on to along with the handle for a more secure grip. If I needed the tripod, I could just extend the legs and hook them back together.


After practicing all three ways with the tripod, I put it to the test. I entered a 72-hour film competition where I won Best Cinematography, Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor. I was extremely pleased with the results; I didn’t even spend twenty dollars to make a successful short film.


Filmmaking Like MacGyver: A Handful of Strategies under $100

By: Jordan Stewart, Michele Olson, & Brian D’Almeida

The filmmaker’s plight lies not in the lack of ideas, but rather the means to execute them, or so the great truth reveals itself to you. Filmmaking is often characterized by a seemingly-insurmountable wall of financial woe, a daunting prospect especially to the fledgling filmmaker.


Shine on, you crazy diamond. Dry your tears, grit your teeth, and read on for the information that will save your wallet without compromising your art. Here are some tips for becoming a filmmaking MacGyver! A CineGyver, if you will.


Why buy something when you can make it yourself? It stands to reason that if something exists, it can be refabricated. Simple, but effective, lighting rigs, camera stands, and audio tech can be utilized by the intrepid but frugal filmmaker (from any nearby hardware store) to help them make the first steps along the path of Cinema.


Lighting, Camera, and Audio are fundamental pillars of film, but need not be so grandiose. You can construct a three-point lighting set with little more than PVC pipes and 150-watt clip-on work lights some duct tape, and even black or white t-shirts as modifiers. You can record good audio with the use of Clip-On Neewer mics directly to your mobile phone with a free app. Aspects of camera can be a bit more difficult. One tactic that’s currently on the rise is filming with one’s iphone (see link below). This way, you can save up for a true film camera without putting a pause on your creativity.


Painfully simple, eh? In truth, you can conceive all manner of work-arounds if you’ve the drive for it. One thing to emphasize, however, is to DO SO SAFELY. Just as these strategies are easy to employ, they can go wrong if done so carelessly. You don’t want to find yourself on, do you? Ultimately, keep calm and film on. Film safely, film wisely, and let nothing stand in your way!

Picture References: