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How far can you push location limitations in favor of budget, before it's obvious?

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  • How far can you push location limitations in favor of budget, before it's obvious?

    Basically in order to save on locations in the budget, I will want to use the same locations for multiple scenes if I can but not sure how far I can push it, before it starts to feel forced, like you are doing it on a budget.

    For example, there is a scene I have when the police are interrogating someone, in an interrogation room. The prosecutor wants to know if he can use any of this. Now normally the police watch an interrogation, from the observation room, that is divided by a big window, in movies.

    But I thought, that I could just write it so that I do not need to show this other room on the other side of a window, and instead I have it so the prosecutor is in his office, and is watching the interrogation at his computer, through a live video feed from a camera and mic, in the interrogation room.

    The prosecutor could then talk to the cops on the phone, and ask them to ask the person different questions as new developments come along in the interrogation.

    That way the prosecutor's office doubles for the observation room and he is just watching it on his computer, instead of being in an additional location for the observation room.

    But if wrote and shot it like that, will audiences think, the police don't have technology, to transmit a live feed right to the prosecutor's computer, etc.

    That is just one example, but do you think that audiences might tell that it's obvious I am being too cheap on locations therefore, or what do you think?

  • #2
    I think that's perfectly fine - it's no more technologically complicated than a Skype call, but on a closed circuit.
    Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com


    • #3
      Okay thanks. What if for other parts of the script, I have a budget to make things more exciting. Like for example, let's say I write it so that the police arrest all the villains in the same place at the same time, which leads to a shootout and a hostage stand off.

      Now some viewers might think this is unrealistic cause it's dangerous and in real life, the police would just wait till each of them split up and go their separate ways, and then follow them each home, and arrest them each in their homes, since that is how it's done realistically.

      But then we wouldn't get a one location shootout and stand off for suspense. So I feel like I am having trouble drawing the line between exciting and suspenseful, vs. implausible and foolish character decisions making.

      How does a writer know where to draw the line between suspenseful and silly?


      • #4
        Get a group of people together for a table read of your script - actors, writers, people who just love movies. Go through the whole thing, then have a round-table discussion in which you take questions and discuss what works for people and what doesn't. Then decide which of the recommendations you want to take and use them in your next draft. It will never be perfect but it can help you to get a feel for what seems silly to an objective listener - we as writers are too close to make that determination ourselves.
        Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com


        • #5
          Okay thanks. I haven't gotten writers or actors to read it yet, since there are still soom gaps in the plot I need to fill. I had friends read it, and some of the character decision making they didn't buy because of budget. Because I want to shoot it on a very low budget, I have characters make decisions that will cost the least amount. But I was told by a couple of friends so far, that I need to get more money and have the characters make the decisions they would make regardless of budget.

          How do microbudget filmmakers deal with problems like that?


          • #6
            Compromise :)
            Seriously - you can't have everything you want.

            In my first feature, Surviving Family, the climactic scene is a (small) wedding. For budget reasons, I gave the actress who plays the lead woman's aunt (a key figure in the story) a reason why she couldn't be there because I simply couldn't afford to have her for the extra days. The actress knew that was the reason, and we had a laugh about it together. Definitely not perfect, but necessary.
            Screenwriter and script consultant: www.maralesemann.com