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Small Production Budget? Here are Creative Ways to Stay Within Budget.

Let’s face it. Filmmaking can be expensive, and sticking to a slim budget can be hard. But, it can be done. There are a lot of resources available specifically to help film students and filmmakers on a budget—you just need to know where to find them. Whether you want to build and dress a set, rent equipment, license music, or obtain stock footage, there are resources that can help you do it for free (or nearly free). Here is just a handful of our favorites. 

Film production Hacks for students


Set Design

Located right here in Los Angeles, EcoSet is an eco and budget-friendly production resource perfect for you and your next project. Focused on minimizing footprint and maximizing resources, EcoSet takes in sets from wrapped productions and offers the used materials for free to students and artists. Make an appointment to browse their available sets, flats, furniture, decor, home goods, art materials, lumber and more! Their treasure trove may even offer some inspiration for your upcoming film. Visit EcoSet’s Instagram page. 


Equipment Rental

Hey, can I borrow that? We all know that there’s someone in our area with the gear we’re looking for, but who they are and where they are is the question. ShareGrid to the rescue. On ShareGrid you can rent everything production-related, from cameras, lighting, sound and accessories to locations—and you’re renting from other filmmakers. ShareGrid connects creatives and facilitates a low-risk rental service for filmmakers to pool their resources. Anyone can list their gear for rental (that includes you!), so let your investments make money for you when you’re not in the filming stage. 


Free Music

Repeat after me: Totally. Free. Music. Brought to you by Free Music Archive, this database of diverse, original music from independent artists is bound to have the piece to perfectly set the mood for your scene in question. You can search their library by genre, feeling, energy, duration and for pieces with and without vocals, and all songs are free to access and download. 

If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for at Free Music Archive, jump over to Audio Jungle, Music Bed, or Audio Network to connect with composers and select your free or incredibly inexpensive music for your film. The fees that are included range from roughly $1 – $50 per track, which goes directly to the artists. Fair trade!


Stock Footage

Hands down, one of the most popular stock footage resources available is Archive.org. Note the “.org”- this is a non-profit with a massive library of footage (and images and music) that’s public domain. Whether you’re looking for historical footage for a documentary, or generic footage of a birthday party, Archive.org is sure to have what you’re looking for. 

If you need footage of special effects – think explosions, dust and smoke clouds, bullet hits and blood splatter – then Detonation Films Stock is for you. Go ahead and make the low budget action film you’ve been thinking about, and let Detonation Films Stock take care of the VFX.

Not shooting an action film? Mazwai is also a great resource for stock footage and is chock-full of beautiful time lapses, slow motion and scenic nature footage, offering some mood-setting softness to your project.


Other Ways to Collaborate with Filmmakers

Looking to other artists and filmmakers to fulfill your filmmaking needs is truly a fantastic way to support the creative community while staying within budget. The good feeling that comes with it is simply a perk! Check out our COVID support resources for students to find more helpful hacks as you get started in the film and entertainment industry. 

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