I got this question recently:

“When I posted on FB that I’m concluding my revision of this script, an acquaintance from Santa Fe, who has worked on a couple of shoots with my movie-grip son, commented that I should talk to him; he’s a cinematographer and producer of 3 short films. He said his crews are second to none. I spoke with him, and he talked about raising the money…getting a package – maybe via the Internet – to people who invest in Independents.

But I want to see if I can get an offer from a producer with a big budget before I go the Indie route. I want to sell the script (for as much money as I can, so that my wife – who’s been bringing in most of our income – can leave the good-paying career she doesn’t like, and follow her dream of photography and painting) more than make the film…although, if possible I’d like to have some input in the actual production, as rare as that might be.

Do you think it’s worth my time to plan anything with the Santa Fe guy? I watched his 3 Shorts on YouTube, and liked 2 of them. Good cinematography and directing.”

I never look down on any offer. Getting one of your scripts turned into an actual film is a difficult process and if there’s someone who can help you realize that goal, even at a low budget, I think it’s worth considering. Especially if you want to keep some creative control over the project, a low budget independent film might be exactly what you’re looking for. In all likelihood you’ll no creative control on a larger budget project.

Perhaps you can go after both opportunities. Work like mad getting your screenplay to producers for 6 – 12 months and then if that doesn’t work out start pursing other opportunities like your friend in Santa Fe. I’m sure the cinematographer friend will understand why you’d want to go after a larger deal first.

11 thoughts on “Should you try and make your screenplay on a low budget?”
  1. In my opinion low budget films can be better than the bigger budgets. Some are really mild in the story but the suspense keeps you entertained. For ex: Open Water, Rocky, Halloween, and I recently watched Frozen, which I thought was really good. Don’t get me wrong, if someone offered me a big budget I would take it. Let’s not forget, The Blair witch Project. Everything about it is low budget, and it was very successful. The script I am working on now is low budget. I know the writers of Saw used a low budget film to impress the producers, and now look! Nice article by the way.

    1. It does not matter low-cost or high cost it important is Success story and spread but Difficult to write the story for a different language to your language . i have amazing story it will be get many oscar but Formula in writing is not good . I want good writer to modify the story and he will get 50% Earnings and he will be rewriter and he get Fame and reputation coz amaizng story and he Did not lose anything but he will win .

  2. If you don’t want to go forward with the Santa Fe deal, please send the gentleman’s contact info to me – I’d love having him look at one of my scripts!

  3. I have a brother actor who has directed and starred in several theater productions. I have another brother that is handy with a camera. I decided to write a no-budget short script and use my brother’s talents. I can tell you that watching the words of the script come to life before my eyes was a thrill well worth doing again. I am the editor and therefore have the creative control over the story. The plan? I hope that the short film festival circuit will get my name to some independent film interest and my larger budget scripts will gain life.

    1. Fantastic. Do let me know how things turn out at the festivals (or where ever your short ends up). I’m always looking for guest posts so if you ever wanted to write a guest post about your experience writing and producing (and editing) your film let me know.

      Good luck to you.

  4. My question is, when is it time to let your Manager go. We signed a one year contract, and it’s been a couple of months since I last heard anything from him, my contract will be up at the first of the year but he’s done nothing for me. I call on the phone and he blows me off with that same old saying I’m in a meeting, but he never calls back. I’ve sent several good projects to him and I feel he’s not going all out for me as I am for him. So I’m asking would it best that I let him go or keep him around, even though he’s doing nothing for me?

    1. Terry;

      It’s hard to really say without knowing more specifics. But my inclination would be to start really pushing your work yourself using all the methods I talk about on this blog. In your query letter mention that you have representation. It might help a bit in getting your scripts read as it adds a bit of legitimacy to you and your query letter letter.

      I’ve found that many new writers are unrealistic in what they expect from an agent and manager. There is a reason that they only get 10% – 15%. It’s because the writer is supposed to do 90% of the work! Selling a screenplay is a lot harder than writing one so my advice to every writer is to go out and sell your screenplays yourself and use your agent/manager where you can but never rely on them as your only means to sell something.

  5. In case more than one producer are interested on a script, could you sugest about to make the best choise? What’s about the writer who want to direct his story?

  6. I’ve finished my first screenplay (an indie-type, character-driven story), have just started to shop it, and am sorting through ideas for my next one. One possibility is a science-fiction story that would involve a fair amount of CGI and some fairly elaborate settings. But a friend in the business told me that Hollywood studios rarely buy a script for a big-budget project from an unknown writer. Do you agree?

    1. Yes, and no. I would say as a rule big budget sci-fi scripts are probably not usually from new writers. But I think the most important thing to remember, instead of trying to second guess what people want from new writers is to write what you’re most passionate about. What ever you think you can write best is what you should write. I’ve found with my own spec scripts the ones that I’m most interested in writing are always the ones that turn out the best and seem to garner the most interest.

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