How I Made A Feature Film For $500 With No Crew

Film Trooper

Yes, I made a feature film for $500 with no crew. It’s called The Cube. You can check out the link for the trailer and even watch the first 7-minutes of the film for free!

Any-hoo-hoo. Is this even a big deal anymore? Making a feature film for no money? Maybe, who knows? If you want to know what The Cube is about you can check out the synopsis page here: THE CUBE SYNOPSIS.

But really, who cares what my film is about. Whenever I’ve been to a film festival, majority of the questions that the audience has for the filmmakers has nothing to do with what the film is about. The questions are about, how much was the budget? How did you get the financing? What did you shoot on? And so on.

There is a great fascination of how things are made. I can’t blame anyone I feel the same way. Hell, it’s taken me years to understand how the whole thing works, and yet the industry is changing so fast, I still don’t know anything. Isn’t that what the infamous screenwriter, William Goldman said, “Nobody knows anything”. It’s still true.

Okay, I claim that I made a feature film for $500 and no crew. Well, to do that you need the following things to happen. Here’s a list (Don’t we love lists on blogs?)


  1. Your story must take place in 1 or 2 accessible locations. Like your own house!
  2. You must own your own equipment. That means everything. Camera, sound equipment, lighting kits, and editing equipment.
  3. Actors who are willing to work for free. Craigslist!
  4. If you decide to be one of the actors, then you have to design your shot list to be primarily locked down tripod shots.
  5. I used a mic stand to be my stand-in so I could approximate focus.
  6. Check the shots after each take to make sure that it is in focus.
  7. Same principle holds true when you are acting with another actor. Set camera on tripod, approximate focus, hit record, go back and check clips to see if it worked at all. This was always tricky with over-the-shoulder shots, as one of the actors will always be covering up the frame too much or too little. No cinematographer is there to tell you if your frame was off or not. No crew, you see?
  8. What did I do with audio? I used a boom mic stand to hold the mic and recorded the audio into a separate recorder.
  9. Clap or snap your fingers to mimic a slate sync.
  10. Make sure to only film scenes that don’t interfere with meal time. Meaning, shoot from 9am-12pm or 1pm-4pm. 3 hour chunks makes it more manageable – and I don’t have to pay for meals, as it was always before or after lunch or dinner.
  11. Take all the footage and edit it yourself.

That’s how I made a feature film for $500 and no crew.

I’ll go into more detail of each aspect that I went through in order to get this little movie completed, but in the meantime, please check out the first 7-minutes of the film and see for yourself how it looks so far. Actually, do it now – and leave a positive comment in the comment section. I need your help in knowing if what I’m doing is worth anything. I need outside approval … I’ve been married too long and need a little love from strangers. Tee-hee (Nigahiga fans? Anyone?)

I plan on releasing the film on Vimeo On Demand in the next few weeks, so let’s see if a little film made for nothing can actually make a little dent in the market. Okay, that’s it for this blog post. It’s time for you to get out there and make a no budget movie 🙂



Scott McMahon is a Fellow Film Trooper at Film Trooper, a website for helping filmmakers attain filmmaking freedom. Scott recently made a feature film for $500 with no crew called, The Cube. Want to know what equipment was used to make that film? Grab a FREE gift at