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To what extent does a films budget affect its outcome?

Hal Smith

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Introduction

In this study, I intend to explore the question To what extent does a lm shoots budget affect its outcome? From Hollywood blockbuster movies, to Independent British lms, I intend to analyse this question through discussing the rise in commercially available high quality media products, the blur between the producer and the consumer and the way that having a large lm budget could impact the directors creative decision making.

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PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Snow White and the Huntsman


I have a strong interest in lm and I intend to study the production aspect of it at university. In the summer of 2011, I still wasnt certain that lm was for me, so I decided to try and get some work experience. I recently managed to shadow the locations department on a lm shoot for Universal Studios blockbuster Snow White and the Huntsman a modern gothic interpretation of the classic fairytale, due to be released in Summer 2012. It was being lmed on a beach near a relatives house on which there were about 50 knights in armor riding up and down the sand towards an imaginary castle on which they would be superimposing on a big hill at the far end of the beach.

The teaser poster for Snow White and the Huntsman which is going to be released later this year. With a budget of $70,000,000 this lm is estimated to be a Hollywood epic.

The amount of vehicles, crew and actors in the production stage was staggering and I managed to talk to a few cameramen and production crew who were happy to talk to me about their job, equipment and such. I saw a number of 35mm cameras on the set, with lots of reels of lm being carried around. The

sheer number of people on set was really something you have to witness rst hand to understand and appreciate how a Hollywood lm is made. The trailer has now been released, the shots of horses running down the beach is the scene that I observed myself on the beach.

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P H O T O G R A P H S

Some of the photographs that I took on the beach where the scene was being shot.

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Snow White and the Huntsman First Trailer

This is the rst trailer that has been released for Snow White and the Huntsman. The scenes of horses running along the beach in this trailer were lmed during the week that I spent down in Wales.

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P ER S O N AL EX PE R IE NC E

Genie in a Bottle
I already had a few contacts in Cornwall, and through family friends and people I know, I managed to secure work experience on a music video set as a runner for freelance lmmaker Ian Bucknole. The music video was for John Smiths track Genie in a bottle. Shot on a Canon 5D Mark II the Ian owned, the video contained John Smith miming the words to his song whilst performing magic tricks to try and impress his beautiful assistant. The shoot was incredibly intimate, with only about 7-8 people actually working behind the scenes. The way that it was shot, with a dolly track zooming in and out to the performers onstage, was a very tricky way of producing the video because the whole piece had to be shot in one take. We did 6-7 takes of the video and I stood backstage moving the curtains and changing the magicians tricks over.

An image of musician John Smith, who starred in the music video and also recorded the song. In my opinion, the nal piece that we created was really impressive, the fact it was all done in one take helps to draw the viewer in through the fact it has been shot from the perspective of the audience watching a play. Having a dolly that goes in and out requires a lot of skill, for people to push it the suitable distance and also to the focus puller who needs to constantly adjust the focus to keep everything looking sharp. With the acting creating a humorous mood, the use of red in the colouring really helps to create a nice warm, rustic feeling to the video, making it seem
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like the performance is happening in an old theatre. The relationship that the actors managed to hold during the performance, really helped add an extra element to the piece, as the audience can see the magician is madly in love with his assistant, whereas she doesnt feel the same. This keeps the humorous mood, but also mean that the viewer creates an emotional attachment to the lead character. As a small group of people who are highly passionate about lm, I am very proud with this output.

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Music Video

This is the nal music video for Genie in a Bottle that we produced. In the credits I have been kindly listed as a production assistant.

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EQUIPMENT

Budget - Equipment
Budget really can affect your lm in many ways. The music video I worked on was shot on a Canon 5D Mark II, a stills DSLR camera which only recently have evolved movie shooting capabilities, whereas SWATH (Snow White and the Huntsman) was shot entirely on 35mm lm. Canon and Nikon DSLRS are now beginning to be seen as the camera to own especially if youre a freelance lmmaker, despite the fact that theyre not actually designed for lm. The extremely high quality of the footage, opportunity to interchange lenses, connect external monitors, t it to virtually any tripod and having full, simple control over the depth of eld really makes these cameras extremely popular. Of course, the 5D Mark II is an expensive camera at about 1659 each (and even more for a prime lens),

but when you think about low budget lm making, you would never be able to hire a 35mm camera, let alone buy the lm to go in it, get it developed and then digitally transferred, especially considering that there is only lab in the whole country that still develops 35mm, this would take a long time to do. For one day of lming, an average 35mm camera costs 1250, and the lm costs 404 per reel, which when lmed at 24 frames per second, only last about 11 minutes. Why spend so much money on using lm when you could have fast high quality footage on a computer in only a matter of minutes after lming as much as you like when you like on a camera that you can have for life? Its even industry recognised, as Darren Aronofsky recently proved in his critically acclaimed lm, Black Swan, which was shot on a Canon 7D, 1D Mark IV, 5D Mark II DSLRS and Super 16mm.

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FUNDING

Funding

After lmmakers pitch their lm to production and funding organisations, they tend to decide a budget. They would take into account the medium of lming, the location, possible big starring actors and most importantly the lms commercial viability, whether it be in Hollywood or British art house cinemas. There are many lms that have become massive hits in Hollywood that have had such a small budget. Take for example The Blair Witch Project which had a $25,000 budget yet grossed at $248,639,099, or Paranormal Activity which really takes it to the extreme, with a $15,000 budget, it grossed at $193,355,800. This proves that with little budget, you can really create a piece of lmmaking that is considered to be commercially popular. We then move onto lms that have large budgets, yet are complete cinema ops. A lm called The Big Year, featuring some famous Hollywood names,
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Jack Black, Steve Martin and Owen Wilson, had a budget of $41,000,000 yet only grossed $7,410,646, an insane substantial loss of many millions of dollars. I recently watched a debut lm from director Paddy Considine, Tyrannosaur a typical gritty British drama, probably the best lm I have watched over the past three years. Critically acclaimed, winning a BAFTA for best writer/ directional debut and many awards at festivals for the powerful acting involved, Tyrannosaur was made for under a million pounds. It grossed at 250,000 making the point that a lm that is incredibly critically acclaimed; BAFTA winning material can easily be a cinema op. This is a typically British example, low budget, award winning, mesmerising material that wont be released into mainstream cinemas, possibly due to budget and the production companies involved.

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C O N C L US I O N

Conclusion
As a student who is very passionate about lm, I like to think that if I ever become a director, or someone who is directly involved with the production of a lm, that regardless of budget I could make something that could make a difference, not something that is dependent on purely money making. The British cinema scene is a prime example of this, we can create these outstanding

lms knowing we have little budget, which in turn can effect a directors creative decision making in a positive way. In my opinion, knowing that your budget isnt expendable really would make you start to think more about your lm as a director and producer, not only in money saving ways, but in ways to appreciate the opportunity and money youve been given.

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BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bibliography
Paranormal Activity: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paranormal_Activity Swath: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_White_and_the_Huntsman The Big Year: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Year The Blair Witch Project: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blair_Witch_Project Tyrannosaur: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyrannosaur_(lm)#Reception Black Swan: http://nolmschool.com/2010/12/darren-aronofskys-black-swan -shot-16mm/ 35mm Film: http://store.kodak.com/store/ekconsus/en_US/pd/VISION3_50 0T_Color_Negative_Film/productID.229250100 35mm Camera Hire: http://www.aimimage.com/kit_forhire.php?group=35mm+Came ra++ 5D MkII: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B001E97GIK/ref=asc_df_B001E9 7GIK6463026?smid=A220CV825QZ42C&tag=hydra0b-21&linkCo de=asn&creative=22218&creativeASIN=B001E97GIK Snow White and the Huntsman trailer http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55Dq2psogSw Genie in a Bottle music video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljIW2rSykOs

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