The lean filmmaking formula garners criticism, hate, and condemnation from Hollywood, but it can work; and often for lesbian and bisexual filmmakers, it is the only option available.
The trick is, don’t try to make a low-budget production, find a way to make what you like on a low-budget.
What are the rules of lean filmmaking and how can you apply it to your lesbian or bisexual production?
1. Use your niche to its full potential
There is an audience who is calling out for more films that they identify with; showing their stories on screen. Make what they want, and get it to them and you will have an audience.
By using an all-women, or mainly women team you could potentially qualify for funding. There is a real focus at the moment (2019) on increasing film made by women so create your team and apply for extra funding!
2. No expensive shots or VFX
Realistically if you want to keep your budget low, you can’t be shooting a major action scene; however that doesn’t mean you can’t include action. A less is more apporach means that you can have the action take place off-scene with sound effects or debris on screen.
Equally VFX sequences are expensive, and unless you spend a lot just won’t be up to scratch.
3. Location, Location, Location – well one location
Try and limit filming to one location, or as few as possible. Don’t discount a script because it has a mansion on a hill; work with the writer to change the setting to a country house.
Approach businesses owned by LGBT people if you need a bar for example. Often they will let you use their space without cost in exchange for exposure. If you need an office, approach businesses that have LGBT networks. Think about who in your community could benefit from sponsorship.
4. Money talks
If you’re using actors who are with unions, and you’re needing to pay the minimum rates, think about the differences between speaking and non-speaking roles. Silent background extras can be significantly cheaper than that extra who you gave a line to.
5. Budget control
Really stick to the budget your have. Creative solutions can sometimes end up coming off better than expensive alternatives. If you’ve stuck to your budget, any unforeseen or unbudgeted issues are more likely to be manageable.
Good luck with your production budget!