Here’s A Look At Some Of The Top Ways To Shoot For Free

Whether you're on a micro budget or not, these helpful tips will give you some ideas for filming on location without the legal hassle.

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Anyone that has ever gone out with a camera, crew and a big idea for the next summer Blockbuster hit knows just how expensive permits can be. Especially if they require addition security such as public safety officer, fire or even a monitor for your production.
This could and probably will be very costly, so here are a few great ideas on how to get out, slash your cost and still make a solid piece of work. (AT YOUR OWN RISK)

1. Guerilla Style Shooting


This takes the same, if not more of a skill set than regular permit shooting. Going out and just doing it may seem like a stretch, especially if you’re nervous about rushing the dialogue and quality of the shot. But there are definitely ways to get it done, and do it right. When shooting Guerilla Style, you are always going to want to keep your production crew small- like next to nothing. The bigger crew and equipment you have, you’re only calling attention to yourselves, and in this case with no permission and no permits thats the last thing you want to do. In addition, plan on shooting on a small DSLR camera, nothing fancy and heavy. Remember, inconspicuous is the name of the game.

“Guerrilla filmmaking is driven by passion with whatever means at hand.” – Yukon Film Commission Manager Mark Hill

2. Just Ask


Many people are afraid of approaching business’s or land owners in fear that they’ll get rejected. But just like the example above regarding Guerilla style, you’ll never know what will work until you just do it. This could prove to be very useful and worth every second of your time. Reach out to friends, family or neighbors. Let them know that you’re looking to shoot a project, but are on a strict budget and in need of locations that are cheap or free. Again, its a matter of asking and not being afraid of the inevitable “no”.

3. Get Out of the LAs and New Yorks


You’re only going to run into one huge permit price after the other if all you want is to get shots within high volume touristy areas. Get out. Look around. Drive an hour or so outside of these film hub cities and discover other naturally pretty places. Its hard to find someone in big suburban areas that are willing to donate their time and facility for a film. Most of the time its not their first rodeo- and they’ll be expecting some kind of compensation. Once you’ve moved outside of these metro areas, you might be pleasantly surprised on how others might view “filmmaking” and the process. For most, its exciting and new. So go ahead, load that car up with your actors, crew, and equipment and go on a small road trip. It might actually help your film to be original!

4. What About Audio? Go Wireless!


The quickest way that can give you and your project away is looking like a professional (or even semi-professional). I’m talking about a big boom mic swinging around with a group of actors, camera, and a couple of filmmakers hanging around. This could easily be disguised as just a group of friends trying out a new camera. But once there’s a boom mic involved, consider your cover blown. The best bet you have is to get some really great wireless lav mics that could easily be hidden from sight. If the option is available, you can have the audio recorder in a near by car with the recordist there, mixing and controlling the audio.

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