Peter Jackson started where you are. From a no budget little feature to the Lord of the Rings he has come a long way. Having worked in a video store at one time I became familiar with just about every low budget release during the eighties and nineties. I had bought a copy of Bad Taste from the store I worked in for about two dollars, stuck it on a shelf and revisited it only when I heard that this guy named Peter Jackson was going to do the Lord of the Rings movies and he had started with a movie titled Bad Taste. I dug the movie up and watched it again. If you can not find it try to at least watch the movie trailer, it is great fun. Then go and watch clips of his later movies and perhaps the new Hobbit Trailer.
To me Peter Jackson is not your typical no budget film maker. He wrote a sci fi movie and if you pay close attention to it this movie what he wrote was a big budget epic that he shot for eight dollars and twenty seven cents. Bad taste is a gross out take on the genre with a lead that actually gets part of his brain
knocked out and keeps on going. Why does he keep going? The only answer is “Derricks don’t die.” His name is Derrick and he will not die until his task of saving the world from an alien invasion is complete.
The lesson from this film is that no budget does not mean that you can not be ambitious. You can write a huge story as long as you remember to write down only the most necessary visual elements. Steven Spielberg needed to blow up buildings and show gigantic alien machines in his version of War of the Worlds, while the no budget writer/film maker would have to rely on sound and light and shadows to suggest what is going on with the invasion of earth. Look at one of my favorite film makers M. Night, his movie Signs. The most frightening and intense part of that film takes place in a basement. No real special effect needed. Both movies with a adjustments could have been utra low budget and done well.
M. Night Shyamalan and Spielberg started out shooting super 8 or video. They began as no budget writers and film makers. Peter Jackson began in the no budget world and now he is one of the top film makers on earth. With the arrival of part one of The Hobbit this year you will have one more reminder of where you can get to from here.
Good luck guys, next time maybe we will talk about the basics of writing your first no budget script this year. I say first because I expect that you will write at least three of them this year.