Filmmaking on a budget

During my journey to become a better filmmaker I’ve worked on some no-budget projects and therefore had to find ways to work on the cheap. I’ve found solutions to problems from others and from desperately cooking up whatever solution I can. In this post I’m going to share some tips, tricks, and tools that works for budget filmmaking.

Bed sheets

Bed Sheets 2


When it comes to film lighting one thing you’ll be looking for is diffusion. Diffusion helps soften the light emitting from a light source. Soft light is generally more pleasant for lighting faces. Now lets face it, most of the time we’re lighting faces. Discussion comes in many forms and could be quite expensive. You can buy diffusion paper and soft boxes, or you can use a common household item. A cheap way of getting discussion is to go to your local dollar store and pick up a pack of white bed sheets. You won’t break the bank and it works to diffuse the light. I have used this method several times, but check out the images from Shane Hurlbut using the same method.

Black wrap

Black Wrap

Black wrap is an incredible tool any filmmaker can utilize. Black wrap is simply black aluminum foil with all kind of practical uses. On my led fixtures the barn doors was essentially useless. So in order to keep light from spilling i used black wrap on the barn doors to act as flags. I’ve seen black wrap used inside lamp covers to cut the light intensity on practicals when there wasn’t dimmers around. You can cut and shape them so easily that it’s one of the most handiest tools in a filmmakers’ arsenal.



Many homes have lamps that can be used as practicals. However sometimes there isn’t a way to control these if you don’t have light bulbs on hand. Dimmers are a perfect way to get the control you desire. This will allow you to bring the exposure to what you desire allowing you to use the practicals to create lovely images.

Budget Lenses

Lenses are one of the most important tools in your bag. Modern lenses are becoming less and less flawed which in many cases can be a good thing, however flaws gives character. Below I’ll list some cheap lenses and show images made with that specific lens.

  • Pentax Takumar 28mm f 3.5


Pentax' 2

Pentax' 3


  • Helios 44-2 58mm f 2

Helios 2 Helios 3 Helios 4 Helios

  • Nikon 43-86 f 3.5

Nikon 2 Nikon 3 Nikon 4 Nikon

  • Canon 50mm f 1.8
Shot from my slider cinematography video. Using the leaves in the foreground to show the move and drive home the atmosphere.
Shot from my slider cinematography video. Using the leaves in the foreground to show the move and drive home the atmosphere.

Canon 2 Canon 3 Canon



The savior of many sets is the handy reflector. You can buy one of the 3 in 1 models for cheap on the internet. These particular models come with the basic reflector, silver reflector, and gold. One trick I’ve come to use is taking the bag cover for the reflector, covering the reflector, and using the blacked out side as a flag. It also makes for way lighting setups by setting up a light and using the reflector to fill in necessary areas. Simply put a reflector should always be on set.

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