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 Climb Trailer!

October 5, 2011 at 9:36 pm

The Climb Trailer | Independent Short Film

Last week, I finished the rough cut of The Climb and while a few final tweaks are being made, I decided it was finally time to release a trailer for the drama.

The Climb is the story of Cameron and Destiny and their struggles living on the streets.  Each of them must face their terrible pasts in order to move on.  While Destiny lost all hope long ago, Cameron holds to his belief that he will find a way to change things one day.

Expect more on the trailer soon!

Check out for more information about our films and upcoming projects.

Follow the project with regular updates posted here.

A New Poster For THE CLIMB Has Arrived! | Independent Short Film Toronto

Does This Poster Sell My Independent Short Film?

November 10, 2010 at 1:51 pm

17 West Productions Toronto short film

Producing independent short films is fun.

Marketing them yourself without any training at all can be stressful.

Honestly, I don’t know a lot of the fundamentals of graphic design.  I’m not a trained Photoshop expert.  I don’t have a degree in marketing with a large list of clients who depend on me to sell their products.

I’m neither of those things.

But I work for free and when you have a production company that’s just beginning to pick up steam, you have to do the best with what you have.  Producing low budget short films is challenging enough.  There aren’t many budgets that allow for marketing expenses when you are just starting out.

I’ve been teaching myself design and Photoshop for years so I at least know a little.  I’ve gone through countless books, websites and tutorials picking up as many techniques as I can.  So far, I’ve designed 4 websites and a lot of promotional material for our films.

With our latest short film still in post production, it’s time to start thinking about the best way to sell it to the masses.

It started with a poster:

The Climb Short Film 17 West Productions

Visit The Climb’s Home page here.

The poster is fairly straight forward. 2 unhappy main characters in a less than inviting environment.  A title that stands out.  No doubt there are probably issues with the overall composition but I quite like this poster.

We shot the film in May and I’m still trying to free up as much time as possible to get it edited and ready to be seen.  It’ll take a while yet but the process is as fun as ever.

I’m a huge fan of launching Final Cut Pro and losing track of time editing a movie.

Still, I wanted to make sure to start promoting the film so it doesn’t appear that I’m lazy.

After a few months, I decided to start messing around with a different style of poster.  Just to see what I could come up with.

The Climb independent short film from 17 West Productions

Does this poster sell my short film?  Do either of them?

These are the questions of uncertainty I’m forced to deal with on a daily basis.  It’s been the same way for each and every poster I’ve designed over the years.

My goal at first was to produce material that didn’t suck.  I think I can confidently state that neither of these posters are terrible but will they do the job?

Do these posters encapsulate The Climb?

The beauty of handling the post in house is I have all the time in the world to produce posters, ads and trailers.  I can keep going until I’m 100% confident in what I produce.

First and foremost, the movie has to be good.

The next step is to convince other people.

At the end of the day, it’s all about creativity and inspiration.

In other words: Fun.

Looking to watch movies online?  Check out’s new online streaming service.  A pretty sweet site with thousands of movies that you can watch anywhere and any time.

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