Tips for Making an Indie Film in your own Backyard!

Here are some tips on how to approach your backyard budget films; including who to ask for help, where and how to gather resources, and how to be everybody’s friendly neighbourhood filmmaker.

Shooting a film in your backyard is the reality of many indie productions. For many, budgets are low, but hopes can stay alive for good production value. The key to success is leaning on neighbours or even strangers to donate their time, talents, homes, businesses, and items.

#1- Design your film on what’s around you

Crafting the locations in the script and narrative to what is surrounding is a great idea. Within the County of Brant, there are parks, rivers, hills, woods, valleys, and nature preserves. Knowing that, tailor your narrative and scene locations to harness the area’s accessible and natural diversity.

#2- Your props can be what you already own

Look around your house, go up to the attic and basement, and see what you find to add to your list of props. Scenes can be reworked so that they could fit creatively and visually with what you already own. You’re obviously not going to have everything your script requires in your closet, but knowing what you have beforehand, and designing your film with those items in mind helps keep your props budget low and your pre-production phase manageable.

#3- Indie films are built on favours, be detailed when you ask

When it comes down to reaching out to your neighbours and extended community (even if it’s mom and dad) to get locations, items, props, and an extra set of hands donated, be detailed. You’re asking for help, so you should also be upfront and honest.

For locations, you’re asking folks to let you, and your crew come into their lives. It’s a big request, so give them every bit of information possible. Let your location owners know:

  • what you are filming
  • crew size
  • estimated vehicle count for each day
  • if you would like to use their electrical or other facilities (bathrooms)
  • when you will show up each day
  • when you expect to leave
  • the fee you can offer
  • that you are fully insured

In some parts of the County of Brant, some of your neighbours and community supporters probably won’t know the first thing about how a film set and crew operate, so give them the scoop. Stating that your crew is professional and courteous and that they will treat homes and items with respect immensely helps in securing the favours needed to enhance your production.

#4- Let the local talent cast themselves

Instead of employing the usual casting process, skip the headshots and auditions and request that interested talent film their audition with their cell phones and send it in. You can send your casting call to local schools, and local theatre companies and post it on social media.

#5- Let people in on the excitement

If you film in a small town, share the love and let people in on the excitement. Making a film, whether big or small, carries an ingrained allure and people can get excited about it when it’s in their backyard. Knowing that something was filmed in their area and that the river and forests they see every day could make it to their television screens is a great perk. Let the community be part of the experience when you can. The next time you decide to make a film in your backyard, the folks that you let in on the excitement may be the first to offer up their help, and homes, and open their hearts up to your production.

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