Expensive scene - low budget film

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  • Expensive scene - low budget film

    the protag is a pilot of small planes that is relevant to the story. but the first scene calls for him flying a plane that is a set-up for something later in the story. Because this is a low-budgeted story, and I'm assuming having a scene in a cockpit when the plane is supposedly flying is expensive, should I:

    a) dump this scene
    b) leave it and have the producer decide if it's too expensive but the fear here is that they will assume the rest of the story has such expensive scenes and stop reading
    c) leave the scene but explain in the query that first scene would be the only really expensive scene in the story
    d) ???

    thanks all.

  • #2
    Re: expensive scene - low budget film

    Originally posted by socalwriter1 View Post
    the protag is a pilot of small planes that is relevant to the story. but the first scene calls for him flying a plane that is a set-up for something later in the story. Because this is a low-budgeted story, and I'm assuming having a scene in a cockpit when the plane is supposedly flying is expensive, should I:

    a) dump this scene
    b) leave it and have the producer decide if it's too expensive but the fear here is that they will assume the rest of the story has such expensive scenes and stop reading
    c) leave the scene but explain in the query that first scene would be the only really expensive scene in the story
    d) ???

    thanks all.
    Unless the scene involves some sort of stunt flying, I wouldn't think that simply having a scene in the cockpit of a small plane is necessarily an exceptionally expensive scene.

    I mean, you'll do it in one of a few ways. Either you can actually fly the plane and have someone else be flying it while your actor is seated in a such a way that he appears to be flying it.

    Or you can have a real plane on the ground and green screen out the windows and then fly the plane to get some bg footage and simply matte the background in -- more expensive but almost certainly not a deal-breaker unless you're talking about a really micro-budgeted film. A handful of effects shots aren't going to be viewed as a big deal for anybody.

    So -- just a few shots in a small plane -- I certainly wouldn't read that and think -- this is out of the question.

    NMS

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    • #3
      Re: expensive scene - low budget film

      I wrote a short -- probably around five pages and posted it at another site, that was pretty active at the time.

      A guy from Florida, who made his living as a cameraman for reality tv and made horror shorts on his time, sad he was interested in it. So, I said sure, if you want to shoot it, go ahead.

      Then he came back and said he couldn't afford the special effects -- which he assumed would have to be CGI. (In the script a man breaks out of a corpse, in a casket, at a church.) Other than that, it was a total three people at one location.

      Another writer on the group, from LA, whose day job was building props said he could do it for around $300 (no CGI) and explained how he'd do it.

      So maybe writers are hobbling themselves, sometimes, by worrying too much about the cost. Some of the props people have been at this a long time.
      "I just couldn't live in a world without me."

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      • #4
        Re: expensive scene - low budget film

        thanks guys. this is another case where not having direct knowledge of the hands-on film making process is a handicap so i appreciate everyone for sharing their knowledge here.

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        • #5
          Re: Expensive scene - low budget film

          leave it and let them tell you if they think it's too expensive.
          have a back-up idea anyway.
          as others have mentioned, there are ways to pull it off without turning it into a Michael Bay film.
          there are several YouTube video posted by pilots who mount GoPros to their cockpits and film their entire flights this way.
          you could get creative with it and think of the scene that way. maybe he's filming himself flying (to justify the low-res quality of GoPros)

          I will say this: if you love the scene and you want to make it work, get ahead of the producers and do all the necessary homework to find out how you would shoot it for peanuts. get in touch with the Aerial Photography guy who wants footage for his real. talk to directors who have done this kind of thing before.

          it's a bit of work but it'll be fuel for your argument if they push back.

          Originally posted by socalwriter1 View Post
          the protag is a pilot of small planes that is relevant to the story. but the first scene calls for him flying a plane that is a set-up for something later in the story. Because this is a low-budgeted story, and I'm assuming having a scene in a cockpit when the plane is supposedly flying is expensive, should I:

          a) dump this scene
          b) leave it and have the producer decide if it's too expensive but the fear here is that they will assume the rest of the story has such expensive scenes and stop reading
          c) leave the scene but explain in the query that first scene would be the only really expensive scene in the story
          d) ???

          thanks all.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Expensive scene - low budget film

            Originally posted by nmstevens View Post
            Either you can actually fly the plane and have someone else be flying (fly) it while your actor is seated in a such a way that he appears to be flying it.

            Or you can have a real plane on the ground and green screen out the windows and then fly the plane to get some bg footage and simply matte the background in . . . .
            Yes. For nmstevens’ first suggestion, side-by-side seating would be best. In other aircraft, like biplanes, the seats may be tandem. In most cases, the smaller the aircraft, the more impositions there are on weight limitations; so you won’t be able to have a heavy camera operator in the back seat for Center of Gravity issues (CG in aircraft-speak). That’s when a remote camera or a Go-Pro would be ideal.

            The second suggestion is best, IMHO, mainly for insurance reasons, for the convenience of an actor and crew, and for its lower overall cost and reduced risk. There is a wealth of bunged-up small aircraft whose fuselage and wing roots are intact. Many are missing their doors and instruments, however, but that seems easy to remedy except for its cost.

            Overall, regarding your list of concerns in your OP: forget about it. You’re the writer, so you write the story. Use whatever it takes to serve the story and make it the best story it can be for the kind of story you’re writing.

            If the production side decides there’s going to be a problem with it, that’s when they’re supposed to call on you for a rewrite.
            Last edited by Clint Hill; 02-14-2019, 08:00 PM.
            "If you're going to have a story, have a big story, or none at all." — Joseph Campbell

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            • #7
              Re: Expensive scene - low budget film

              Is it possible to use stock footage of the plane in flight and use voiceover?
              Advice from writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick. "Try this: if you can replace your female character with a sexy lamp and the story still basically works, maybe you need another draft.-

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              • #8
                Re: Expensive scene - low budget film

                I saw a short clip/gif on Imgur the other day of a pilot in the cockpit of his plane with blue sky in the background, but a few seconds later the camera pulls back, he's actually standing outside, holding a plastic chair over his own head, the legs looked like the cockpit canopy frame, totally fooled me. (I looked for the clip but couldn't find it, naturally.)

                Edit: hah looks like someone else did the same thing, https://imgur.com/gallery/H3eOqR7
                Last edited by dpaterso; 03-07-2019, 11:41 PM.

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                • #9
                  Re: Expensive scene - low budget film

                  Read up on 'process plates.'

                  Most driving scenes are filmed in fixed-location fake vehicles with greenscreened stuff-passing-by.

                  I think the trick will be finding a small-plane set.

                  I have been on a set for a larger plane. It consisted of a cross-section of the passenger cabin of a 747.

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