Back in January, I directed a micro-budget feature film which many of you have seen documented on the blog over the past few months. The film was created in a very unique way, and went from concept to production in under a month. It was an exceptionally difficult project to pull off in almost every sense, but in the end we got it done and will soon have a completed feature to show for it.
Making a film on this scale is never easy, and I have to hand it to our cast and crew for roughing it out with me and getting to the finish the line. We shot in some extremely unpleasant environments, got kicked out of 3 locations, had our picture car (a VW Westfalia Van) break down on us almost every day, and endured many other intense scenarios along the way…
As I look back on the footage and watch the edit come to life before my eyes, it’s hard not to appreciate the fact that this film ever got to see the light of day. Not only did we shoot almost 90 pages over the course of 12 days, but we did so on 8 hour days to comply with SAG-AFTRA. We only went into overtime once, and it was on a day when I knew we would have to, as we shot 13 pages in a single day. Unsurprisingly, that was also the single most brutal day of the entire shoot, both mentally and physically.
I also can’t help but be reminded of what’s possible with minimal equipment, and a tiny cast and crew. Our primary cast consisted only of our 2 lead actresses, and our crew on most days was 3 or 4 people, including my wife who co-produced the film. We shot the entire film on a camera that I already owned (the Blackmagic URSA Mini 4.6K), and only used two lenses (Sigma 18-35 and 50-100 cinema lenses).
In a way, this film is emblematic of what my blog is all about, and why I started it 4 years ago. I have always loved the idea that with very little money, equipment, or resources, we can go out and make films. There really is no longer any barrier to entry, and the only thing that can stop us is ourselves.
For several years I had been trying to get a feature film off of the ground, and considered raising funds and working on a much larger scale. In the end though, I realized the only way to get a feature completed this year would be to take my own advice: Pick up a camera and just start shooting with whatever means you have available to you…
I could have easily waited another year, 2 years, 5 years, or longer until I raised enough money to make a larger scale film. But I wanted to direct something now, and wanted an opportunity to continue to hone my skills. I didn’t expect to make a perfect film, but I did expect that I would challenge myself to make the best film I could make within my own set of circumstances. And more importantly, I expected to learn something along the way, so when the next feature comes around (hopefully sooner than later), I’ll be able to do it even better next time.
So without further ado, I want to share the very first teaser for Shadows On The Road, below. Once we are picture locked, I’ll be cutting a proper theatrical trailer with dialogue, but for now this will give you a glimpse into the texture and tone of the film.
Take a look –
SHADOWS ON THE ROAD
Logline: After a violent altercation, a runaway girl goes on the lam with a charming beach dweller who offers to help her find a fresh start. But once they skip town, she quickly realizes the harrowing past that she’s running from is one she may never escape.
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I just saw the movie recently. Looks like you did great with the theme and the photography and the chemistry between the 2 girls was awesome. However, I was puzzled at the tragic ending of Silver. Is there a reason you ended it that way and did you consider making it a happier ending for the 2 girls?
The shots of the road trip were amazing
Thanks so much for watching! The end was a commentary on the trauma Zoe had gone through, and her inability to escape her past no matter where she ran.
Way to go, Noam! Makes me want to watch the film even more now! Keep up the great work, and continue sharing the journey. Loving it.
Awesome! Appreciate it, Shaheed.
Looks dope my man, did you shoot the entire film at ISO 400 / 800 or did you dare push to 1600?
I love the way you framed the actors to make best use of the natural light.
For the car shots, did you use any lenses with internal stabilisation? Or were you just relying on a shoulder rig, what lens (mm) wise were you mostly using for those interior car shots?
Thanks so much Toby! The whole thing was shot at ISO 800, with the exception of maybe 2 or 3 shots that were captured at 1600. It’s definitely noisier at 1600, but still useable if you don’t mind a bit of grain in you’re images…
None of the lenses we used were stabilized (we shot on the cine versions of the Sigma zooms). For the car shots we were always on the 18-35, and tried to stay pretty wide (usually 24mm or below) to help us out with camera shake.
Noam, you are an inspiration. Nice work. Thank you.
That’s very kind of you – thanks so much for the note.
Very nice Noam. Looking forward to the finished piece. This trailer also lets me know that feature will be of high quality. Kudos!
Thank you so much William. Appreciate the note.
Looks great!! Thanks for posting this and the podcast. I am looking to shoot a feature with a micro budget as well. I own a C100 mark 1 with dual pixel/atomos ninja/L series 24-105/ some cheap canon primes/vintage nikon primes Do you think I should shoot with this camera? Or should I pony up and purchase the Ursa 4.6? I could afford this but this would cut my budget in half!
Hi Ko! Thanks for the kind words. To answer your question – I wouldn’t ever suggest sacrificing your budget too much for camera choice. The C100/Ninja combo is an amazing option, and even has some advantages over the URSA Mini 4.6K (low light, etc.), although it doesn’t have slow motion capabilities or the ability to shoot 4K. Personally, I would say stick with the C100 unless you absolutely need 4K/slow-mo. Best of luck!
I totally agree ! It’s gonna be the same final product (either bad, good or great) no matter which camera is used. Main thing is get started and get the project done ! Thanks for your contributions to us all !
Any time, Kevin. And thank you!
Looks great, some stunning images there. Congrats!
Very much appreciated Stevan!
Look forward to your full trailer, inspirational work, making it happen on a micro-budget.
Can’t wait to share it, and thanks David!
Amazing images and composition! Love the “poster shot” at 0:56 – looks incredible!!!
Did you achieve the “land of the rising sun” beams at 0:36 in camera or post?
Great color grade also – even the simple car interior at 0:40 looks very cinematic.
Thank you Don! Glad you enjoyed it… All of the lighting that you are seeing was done in camera. We shot about 90% of the film with natural light, and just tried to work it to our advantage the best we could while on set. The color grade was kept simple, but took some time to get right – I spent about 5 hours on it, which is more than usual considering it is only 60 seconds long (and not many cuts).
Hey Noam, you’ve been teasing us with stills for a while now and I was so excited to finally see some clips. Congrats on getting it done. The Images look amazing!! I see a lot of exterior shots, particularly golden hour shots. I would be curious to know how you were able to keep a tight schedule with a small crew/budget . Looking forward to seeing the film and hearing the war stories. Congrats again
Thanks Nathan! Very much appreciate the kind words. To answer your questions –
Oddly enough, having a small crew and budget actually helped us keep our hours down to a minimum. From my experience, the more people on set and the more gear that needs to be moved, staged, operated, etc. the longer everything takes to get done. Almost our entire film was shot handheld and with natural light, so when we had to move from one setup to the next, it was often as easy as swinging the camera around and starting to roll. In fact, I found that even though we only had 8 hours per day (9 including the 1 hour lunch), we often spent most of those 8 hours shooting. On the other hand, projects that I’ve directed that had a much larger crew and budget (and could afford full 12 hour days) often resulted in as little as 2 – 3 hours of actually shooting time, mainly due to the added setup time in between shots.
Hopefully this helps to answer your question, and I think you may have inspired me to do a post on this very topic in the future!
Nice work! Thank you for all of the content on your site and all the best with your release.
Thanks so much Matt – really appreciate it!