can you make a zero budget film?

Whether you’re making a short film or a feature, having an immensely low budget may seem like an issue, but it doesn’t have to be. Zero budget films can actually spark creativity, encouraging a kind of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ mindset. Using this approach, you can take your film to unexpected places. You may even surprise yourself with what you are able to produce. In this blog, Dot Films highlight some efficient zero budget or close to zero budget filmmaking tips. 

Is it even possible to make a film with zero budget? Well, yes and no! Whilst it’s pretty much impossible to make a film with an absolutely zero budget, today it is much easier to make a very low budget movie that’s hugely optimised. This is down to more affordable cameras and free software being readily available. 

Read on to learn how to make a low budget movie look professional, with information about scriptwriting, finding equipment and distribution. 

how to create a zero budget film?

Whether you’re making your first student film or you’re hoping to create something that gets you noticed, hopefully this blog will help get your creative juices flowing. Even with a low budget, there are plenty of ways to utilise what you have got to make something unique. Here is a list of different ways to create a zero budget film:


Before writing or sourcing the screenplay for your low budget movie, remember to think carefully about how much the story will cost to make it into a film. Typically, high concept genres such as scifi, fantasy or period films tend to cost more compared to drama, documentary or horror. If you are planning to make your film with a limited budget or with no budget at all, try to find an example of a film previously made in your chosen genre with a low budget. A low budget has no restriction on your imagination, so think big and pursue an idea that hasn’t been approached before. 

Example – Creep is a fantastic example of a no-budget horror film. 


For your equipment, bear in mind that any camera can be used to shoot your film. Here are some options you could consider:

  • Do you know anyone who has equipment that you could borrow?
  • Could you use your mobile phone?
  • Have you considered affordable options such as second hand DSLRs or your laptop camera?

One notable example of a feature film shot on old videotape cameras is low-budget drama, Tangerine

For sound, think about what you have around you. Your phone may have decent audio, or you could use the old school technique of attaching a microphone to the end of a broomstick pole. When it comes to lighting, our top tip is to make the most of natural light. Filming at night will require a lighting budget, whereas shooting outside in the daylight will cost next to nothing. When filming indoors, consider what practical lights are around you. 

Remember – before shooting your film, do some test shots on location and check the audio to make sure it works to a high enough quality. Location recces and test shots are vital on no-budget films. 

art and design

Even with a zero budget film, spend time thinking about how the film will look. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What type of clothes will your actors wear?
  • How are your actors going to style their hair? Is make-up needed? (Tip –  transparent powder can be incredibly cheap and can stop actors looking shiny on camera.)

As for props and art design, consider once again what you have available. For set design, think about how the scene should look, is your character neat or messy and is the location a good fit for the character? 

Again, just because you have a limited budget, doesn’t mean you can’t get creative with the materials you have access to. At Dot Films, we encourage everyone to be as bold as you can – never settle for safe ideas. 

crews & actors

If you are lucky, you may be able to get crew and actors who are willing to work for free to gain work experience. The first thing you need to do is consider how large a crew you need. Although you can make a film on your own, having a small crew can make the process run more smoothly. 

Sometimes, a professional actor might work on a low-no budget film if the script interests them. To find actors, take a look at Facebook groups, actors glossaries, local drama workshops or from an agency. 

post production

Once you’ve shot your film, you may need a hard drive to put your footage onto. Luckily, there are many free editing programs available to edit your zero budget film.
Additional sound effects can be created in post with a microphone or found via online sound libraries. Some free music websites include SoundCloud, Jamendo and Sound Click. Don’t forget that you’ll need copyright permission for all the music used in your film.


Think about what you plan to do with your film once it is complete. There are many film festivals worldwide where you can enter your film to be watched on the big screen. Or, if you’re on more of a budget, you can enter medium/local festivals which usually offer free entry. 

top zero budget filmmaking tips

Here are some of our top tips to help you create compelling content for next to nothing: 

  • Use cash on hand – try to avoid using credit cards whilst creating your 0 budget movie. However, if you are struggling to cover your film production costs, there are plenty of film grants available
  • Be smart with gear rental – renting professional cameras from trusted sites is always a good idea because it keeps those prices down. It can even foster networking. If you’re renting from an established company, consider renting at the weekend as most suppliers will cut you a one day rate for the weekend. 
  • Use film software – look into storyboarding or shot listing, there are countless apps dedicated to these processes today. 
  • Choose one location – avoid shooting in lots of different locations if you have a restricted budget. Stick to one location so that you don’t have to worry about travelling costs. 
  • Charity shops/actors closets – Avoid buying new clothes for your 0 budget movie. Instead, ask your actors to bring clothes with them or make a visit to the local charity shop to see what treasures you can find. 
  • Take care of your cast and crew – a universal must, regardless of your budget. Look after your cast and crew when they are on and off set. After all, your beautiful creation would not be possible without these extraordinary people.

experimental films with Dot Films

At Dot Films, we know that every story starts at a near-nothing something – at a dot. Maybe you’ve got an idea, dream or problem that you’ve always wanted to pursue. We’re committed to trying things that we’ve never done before, inspiring those around us to use their imagination to create something beautiful.  

Take a look at some of our experimental films to see what we’ve been up to. 

Get in touch with us today to discuss your wildest thoughts, no idea is too big for us



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  fin. period. kham. the end. full stop. iota. bas. kham. fin. period. kham. the end. full stop. iota. bas. kham.