Producing A Low Budget Short Film

January 22, 2012 at 3:58 pm

Producing A Low Budget Short Film | Independent Film Blog


We filmed The Climb over a weekend in May 2010 for about $300.  It was the first project we developed after I launched this blog so there was a ton of coverage here.

There are posts about every topic including budgets, screenwriting, stories from the set, post-production, marketing, promotion, trailers, posters and more.

Now that the film is completed I thought it would be useful to gather every post in one place.  So check out the entire story of how we produced The Climb.



Low Budget Filmmaking: The Climb’s Budget

The Climb’s 1st Location Scout

Screenwriting: Rewriting The Climb

Meet The Cast Of The Climb

Storyboarding When You Can’t Draw

Designing The Tattoos

The Director Of Photography

First Tattoo Sketches And Tests

No Budget Filmmaking: Producing A Short Film

The Need To Edit A Movie

Improving The Screenplay

Pre-Production Day

Final Make-Up Tests

Wardrobe And Props

Rehearsing A Short Film

Tweaking Your Screenplay

Directing Short Films: The Calm Before The Storm

Making Progress

Making A Short Film: The Little Details

Final Location Scouts

It Begins!


Technical Specs

Can’t Complain About Early Call Times

I Dislike People Who Honk During Filming

Destiny’s Tattoos

I Don’t Like To Hold The Camera

Rushing To Capture Footage

A Computer, Some Footage And Me

How The Weather Almost Killed Our Short Film

Directing Short Films: Playing Through vs The Climb

That’s A Wrap!


Editing A Short Film: Little Moments

How a dialogue heavy script became a quiet movie

Short Film Editing: Is This Scene Boring?

Tough Cuts: Letting go of a scene

Taking on the opening scene

Editing a short film you directed: The Annoying Part

Editing a short film: You have to start somewhere

I got stuck editing my short film

We Have Picture Lock

Marketing & Promotion

Short Films, After Effects & Video Copilot

The Climb’ Trailer

Planning The Trailer

A new poster for The Climb has arrived

First official still from The Climb

Does this poster sell my independent short film?

The Climb’s poster is here


The Climb: A Journey Ends

The Climb is finished

The Climb: One Year Later

The Non-Artists Guide To Photoshop Addiction

July 6, 2011 at 1:20 am

Photoshop Cures Writer's Block


It doesn’t dominate my life but I definitely love the tools the software provides.  I’m far from an artist so my work will never be near the level of many digital artists I admire but I try.  I’m always searching the web for new techniques I can attempt and recently, I’ve become a fan of magazines like Advanced Photoshop.

Over the years, Photoshop has become my escape from editing and writing.  It’s my third love.  My way of turning my brain off while still being creative.  I found Photoshop to be a perfect way to keep me occupied while I worked out scenes in my mind.  It’s my cure for writer’s block.

I think a lot of people are intimidated by Photoshop and I was no different.  However, if you have the motivation and dedication to learn, you’ll never stop surprising yourself.  I’ll always be jealous of graphic designers.  I tell people I’m good at manipulating elements in Photoshop but I struggle when it comes to creating something great from scratch.  I can’t draw.  I never could.  I think that’s why I stick to logos and fonts and steer clear of more complicated images that are beyond my skill set.

I can’t draw a dragon…  But I could certainly incorporate an image of a dragon into something.

Nope, I can’t paint that.  That doesn’t stop me from watching videos like that in awe of what some people can do.


Pick up a copy of Advanced Photoshop every once in a while.  Learn from websites like PSDtuts.  Think of what you want to create and don’t stop researching until you have all the techniques and tips you’ll need to pull it off.  Get a digital camera, snap a few images and learn how to manipulate them.

The golden rule of learning how to use Photoshop is this:

The more you learn.  The harder it is to stop!

This applies directly to independent filmmakers who are just getting started.  Pick up a copy of Photoshop and try making posters and promotional artwork yourself.  If anything it’s a cheaper way to go and you’ll learn a new skill.  There are countless ways to promote your projects online and Photoshop is a great way to help your film stand out.

I’ve been working with Photoshop for about 3 years or so now and it’s safe to say I’m addicted…  That is until a few months ago when my PC died.  I lost Photoshop. That day and the subsequent months sucked.

For months, I stopped reading magazines and websites because I didn’t want to see techniques I couldn’t even try.  Regardless of my efforts, there were still moments when I took pictures of TV ads, fonts and logos to prepare for Photoshop’s return.  I ended up keeping a list of images I wanted to create when Photoshop returned.

Thankfully, my new PC is up and running and Photoshop is a part of my life again.  Mostly because I’m now capable of creating graphics for my movies, this blog and my other websites like

Within a week, I had already created a couple ‘posters’ for some screenplays I’ve been working over the last few months.  I’ve always found it interesting to try and visualize a screenplay during the writing process.  It gives me extra material to look at when I’m developing a new story and inspiration if I get stuck.

There are so many different reasons I love Photoshop.  Whether it’s a new screenplay, a poster for my short film, a board game or a new graphic for this blog, I’m always looking to improve my skills and create something unique.  What I love the most about Photoshop is the limitless knowledge I have yet to attain.  There are billions of ways to use the software and I’m probably at #152 ish.

It’s a hobby that will never get boring because there is always something new to learn.  I can’t wait to see what I’ll be able to create 10 years from now or next week for that matter.

XTRA | Here are a couple more Photoshop posts covering screenwriting, short films and more…

Photoshop Cures Writer’s Block

Rookie Photoshop For Movie Nerds

Creating Concept Art For Your Screenplay

Does This Poster Sell My Independent Short Film?

Photoshop & Low Budget Short Films

Finally, this is an image I created  the other day by completing a tutorial from The Artist’s Guide To Photoshop.  It’s nothing special and definitely not an official Athletic Nerd logo but it’s decent and it was fun to create.

Movie Blog Screenwriting Blog Photoshop

Remember, if you can ignore the fact that you aren’t an artist and just try the millions of tutorials out there you will get better. 

Photoshop fuels my love of screenwriting and making movies.


Welcome back Photoshop!

Directing Short Films: Playing Through vs The Climb

September 11, 2010 at 8:45 pm

Directing Short Films

I’ve been making movies since high school.  Back then we were winging it.  We shot our films with a camcorder and filmed every scene in order.

We didn’t have screenplays and barely worked out the stories.  We simply made it up as we went along.

You learn by trying.

I consider Playing Through my first official short film.

It was based on a screenplay I wrote and absolutely adored.  I couldn’t wait to see the finished film.  Screenwriting has always been my passion.  I’ve never considered myself a director and truthfully, I don’t know if my ultimate goal would be to direct for a living.  I want to write.  I love writing.

However, I also enjoy challenging myself in new creative environments. 

Why not give directing a serious shot?  I had nothing to lose.

Playing Through Short Film 17 West Productions

When we shot that movie, I didn’t know how to carry myself on a professional film set.  That was the biggest hurdle I had to leap in order to communicate with my crew effectively.  I had spent countless hours shot listing and story boarding in the week’s leading up to the shoot.  I did this for two reasons:

  • I wanted to make sure I had a clear idea of what I wanted the movie to be.
  • I wanted the crew to take me seriously.

Our first day of shooting was hard on me.  We had fallen behind and I had to adapt my vision accordingly.  When you are dealing with a golf course that remained open as well as the constant threat of rain, you really have no choice but to push forward as efficiently as possible.

We had to make sure that by the end of the shoot, we had enough footage to make a movie.

I learned early on that certain complicated shots had to be sacrificed in order to make sure the story was told.

In the end, I got everything I needed to tell my story and I’m extremely proud of the final film.

So far, Playing Through has won 3 awards and been an official selection in two film festivals.

I suppose the one thing I learned was that you can’t rely on story boards and shot lists when you are in the moment.  You have to let your instincts take over at some point.  I don’t think I did that enough.

It may have been nerves but I definitely wish I let loose a little more with my imagination while I was on the set.

The Climb Short Film Toronto

We made The Climb nearly 4 years after I wrote the original draft of the screenplay.  That script went on to place 4th out of over 1200 scripts in the American Gem Screenplay Competition.

Since that time, I’ve rewritten and simplified the script several times.  When it came time to decide what I wanted to do next, it was an easy decision.

I went into the shoot with the same amount of preparation as Playing Through.  I had my shot lists and drawings finished and I was confident we would get it all done.

With the exception of the weather, this shoot was actually pretty smooth.

The major difference?

I left my notes at home.

All I had on me was a miniature copy of the script which I rarely opened while we were shooting.  I had general approaches to each scene but because of the weather, I was forced to come up with new and interesting ways to get the work done.

From a visual standpoint, The Climb has many more varied locations and settings.  I did my best to keep things as new and interesting as possible as the entire script is essentially one long conversation.

Much like Playing Through, the weight of the script is in the dialogue.  When we were making Playing Through, I had golf to rely on during the longer conversations.

The Climb deals with two people who live on the street.  I had to find a way to keep things moving even though my main characters do not.

So I tried to use the locations to my advantage and create as much depth as possible.

We’ll see how it all turns out but I’m definitely more comfortable on set.  What’s important to me is to always keep improving.

I’m not sure if I’ll direct again any time soon as I’m now firm on my goal of writing some new shorts and a couple feature scripts.

Writing will always be my first priority.  When I’m directing, I miss it.

So while I’m finishing post-production on The Climb, expect a lot more posts about screenwriting.

Gareth Edwards’ MONSTERS Is Inspiring!

September 3, 2010 at 4:23 pm

 Monsters Is Inspiring Gareth Edwards'

I came across two posts over at SLASH FILM today about how director Gareth Edwards made the upcoming alien invasion story:


Click here to read a complete write up on the film.

Click here to learn more about how the director pulled it off.

The film is due in theaters this fall and it’s hands down one of my most anticipated movies of the year.  The fact that the majority of the film was done with a minimal budget and edited on equipment I have access to is inspiring. 

All I want to do is get back to cutting my latest short film, The Climb.

I want to be in my office with Final Cut Pro opened up and really create something entertaining.  Monsters also has me pumped up for my new feature length screenplay that I’m planning on starting this fall.

I love the feeling of being inspired. 

I was already excited about the film but then I saw the video embedded below and it pushed me over the top.

Not only that, the artwork and posters for the film are truly unbelievable.  Check out the poster below!  So simple.  So awesome.

I can’t wait to see Monsters on the big screen.

Gareth Edwards Indie Alien Invasion Monsters 2010

Producing A Short Film: Making The Climb

June 11, 2010 at 8:46 am

Producing Short Films

When I directed Playing Through, I was constantly updating a diary that detailed every single aspect of the entire production.

I wanted to change things up for The Climb.

Instead of describing the entire weekend shoot in long drawn out posts, I decided to focus more on the main story lines of our shoot and keep things a little lighter.

Much like I did with the Pre-Production process, here is a recap of how we filmed, The Climb.

  1. That’s A Wrap!
  2. How The Weather Almost Killed Our Short Film
  3. A Computer, Some Footage And Me
  4. The Climb’s Photo Album Is On Facebook
  5. Destiny’s Tattoos
  6. I Don’t Like To Hold The Camera
  7. Rushing To Capture Footage
  8. I Dislike People Who Honk During Filming
  9. The Budget
  10. Can’t Complain About Early Call Times
  11. Technical Specs
  12. Directing Short Films: Playing Through vs The Climb

Next up:


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