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Production Outline for a Low-Budget Film

(My pre-production document outline)

Back in 2021 I produced a few short scenes for my acting reel. I spent like 200 USD producing both of them and got one of my videographer friends to film them. That's when my interest in producing started to arise.

Not only because I love spreadsheets and project management (Excel is my love language) but because I got to see an idea that was once just in my mind come to life.

A year later, in 2022, one of those scenes had still not seen the day of light. Why did it take me one whole year to edit a 2 minute scene you may ask? Well... procrastination. The reality is that I was not happy with the production value of the scene and the concept was very dear to my heart so I wanted to do it justice.

My friend, Wendy Rosas (who acted in the original 2021 scene with me), and I decided to re-write my script and put a bit more money into it and film it from scratch. This time our budget was 400USD 💸😂

We got an incredible DoP (Director of Photography) called Mihir Kulkarni to film it and our short 3:30 minute film, Not Just a Sister, was born.

We showcased NJAS at the "Prague Actors & Filmmakers Film Festival" in July 2023 and that was the first time that I truly considered myself a "filmmaker".

Two smiling girls with flowers in their hands
Wendy Rosas and I at PAFFF (July, 2023)

Getting everyone's feedback and seeing people's genuine excitement and curiosity about NJAS made me very emotional. Seeing how something that started as an idea in my head was now reaching real human being was a very cathartic experience and I was ready to produce another one.

That's why I quickly wrote a new script based on my non-existent love life and wanted to start producing it ASAP. Because the script was based during the summer and summer was coming to an end I knew I had to act fast and film it ASAP as well or wait until Spring...

So I got to producing with a potential film date in September which gave me 6 weeks to produce the entire thing.

My first step of production was writing out an outline for this film and the whole point of this blog post is to share that outline with you in hopes that you can use it to guide you in your pre-production phases as well, so I hope this helps:

My outlines usually include:

  • Timeline: Important dates to keep in mind such as potential filming dates, deadlines of when you want to have the film edited and/or done by, maybe a specific film festival that you want to send it to.

  • Cast & Crew: List of how many people you will need to bring onboard and potential people to reach out to and their role in the film (let be as a character from the script or as a technical crew member like gaffer or sound mixer).

  • Equipment: A list of the filming equipment you will need or at least an idea of where you will rent or get it from.

  • Wardrobe, Hair & Makeup: Include moodboards or style ideas and a breakdown of what each character wears in each scene.

  • Food, Drinks & Crafty: What food and snacks will be on set & from where.

  • Locations, Transport & Set Design: A list of locations needed for the script to come to life and transport ideas between locations (Will you rent a van? Will you use taxis? Will you ask a friend for a favor? :D). Also include set design moodboards & a prop list.

  • Post-Production: Who will do your editing, sound design, color grading, close caption files, and maybe caption translations?

  • Promotion & Distribution: What will your promotional and distribution channels be? Will you take it to film festivals? Will you have a screening? Which social media will you promote this on?

  • Budget: A breakdown of how much money will go into each of the areas stated above and where you will get the funding from.

  • To-Do List: All the steps you need to take to make this film happen.

In a big production these are all things that different production departments take care of, but when you're an indie filmmaker prodcuing a low budget film with a budget of around 800 USD, you gotta do as much as you can yourself.

This outline was then populated by an insane amount of information and it grew into having other sections such as:

  • Food restrictions of the crew: Making sure no-one is going to get an allergic reaction on set or not be able to eat the meal because of their eating habits.

  • Behind the scenes: A list of prompts that I gave our BTS videographer for social media content.

  • Credits: The list of credits is ready even before the film is so that I don't forget anyone when the time comes to add the credits to the film/

  • Contact list: Every crew and cast member's phone numbers so our AD can access the numbers when creating the call sheet.

  • Shot list, call sheets, and schedules: These are all separate documents but I have them linked in this production document so everything is in one place.

Crew of a film staring at a monitor
On set of my newest film "Unrequited Delusion" coming to a screen near you in 2024.

Each project is different so each pre-production document will be different as well, but I hope that this gives you a starting point and makes you excited to embark on this film journey of yours.

You can download my editable pre-production outline here for free if you'd like to have it:

Download PDF • 145KB

That's it for today! Hope this helped :)

And if you have any questions or want to discuss anything feel free to email me at!

Bye x

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