in hollywood films much effort is exerted toward getting it just right: the best people money can buy, the expensive sets, the top-notch equipment, the numerous cameras, the various angles, the multiple takes, the one-hundred-to-one shooting ratio, etc.
low budget films of course never aimed that high. b movies were low budget, exploitation films were low budget, everything produced by roger corman was low budget. the best way to make such a film is still to write a screenplay knowing what you have available and keeping out what you can’t afford or aren’t allowed to do (taxi). ditto for people and equipment. because time is money and most of what you introduce in a film also costs money, you must minimize entries from the get go. for instance, all other things being equal, a film with three actors will cost less than one with ten, a lean crew is cheaper and faster than a large one, shooting in daylight is a bargain when compared to setting up lights at night, and fewer locations means less traveling time and a tighter shooting schedule.
some obvious tips regarding sound: voice-over is cheaper than dialogue and re-recording lines in post is cheaper than spending time trying to catch a clean audio take when there is traffic nearby. watch following for clues on how to shoot a film when you cannot control the sound. some self-evident techniques: viewers can’t tell what’s being said when actors are in a long shot, are wearing an anti-pollution mask or have their back to the camera. you can also insert a lot of dialogue when it’s too dark to tell. for close-ups, a cigarette in the mouth makes it difficult to connect words and lip activity.
no solution fits all projects. cavite remains for me the best example of a successful film shot for a pittance. one of the two authors acts in the film and the other shoots it. all the locations are free. almost all the dialogue is voiced-over, etc. yet the action is relentless. all for less than ten thousand dollars. to remake this film hollywood-style would cost at least ten million dollars. would spending a thousand times more money make the film a thousand times better? i don’t think so.