Indie Low Budget

Artie: Auteur

Every year since 2004 Artie has been emailing me (UPM on his indie short film) to find out how much he owes people for mileage.

Artie never pays.  Every year he seems shocked at how much money it cost folks to drive to his set.

No one got paid for their labor on this film.  Artie works at a gear rental house, so the gear cost nothing.  Artie’s only expenses for the film were a makeup kit fee, the cost of food and mileage reimbursement.

This was a three-day shoot, with 12 people getting paid for mileage (catering, two actors, the DP, UPM, AC, two grips, AD, gaffer, makeup, armorer.)  One actor drove 120 miles round trip each day, since Artie didn’t want to pay to put him up in a motel…and he HAD TO have this actor—the “only guy” who could play the role…so Artie said he was willing to pay the extra mileage.

In 2007 Artie he told me that his roommate had discovered a mistake in the spreadsheet I’d put together detailing the expenses.  I asked for a pointer to what was wrong so I could fix it, but Artie didn’t call me back that year.

Again in  2011 Artie emailed me.


“How are you, Michelle?”


No mention of mileage.



James: Auteur

The last day of the shoot, James asked me (UPM on his indie short) to give him the remainder of his cash that we didn’t spend.



“Don’t you owe me about $100?”



“No, darling, you actually owe me $11.  That single white rose that you wanted in the middle of the last day’s shoot so we could do the “Angel Heart” thing in the sleazy hotel room with the ceiling fan cost $21.  We were under budget till then.”



“That $21 white rose was 1% of my entire budget.”



“I love you; you’re such an artist.”


Bethany: Producer

Bethany asked Marla, an actor on her indie short, to do her own makeup.


And makeup for the entire cast.


And to use her own makeup.


Joe: Director

Joe wants to shoot the break-up scene in the gorgeous vintage Smith Building mezzanine.  The producer has not been able to get permission from building management to film inside.

So, on the day of the shoot,  Dave the DP puts on a wig and a housedress, disguising himself as a pregnant woman.  The camera is hidden under his skirt with a hole cut in the skirt for the lens to peep out.  Two of the gaffers pretend to be tourists taking pictures of the historic building, using their pink mini-cameras with the always-on flash to light the scene.

Security throws the entire crew out.


Jenner: Producer-Director-Screenwriter-Caterer

Jenner delivers lunch to the actors and crew on set.  Our cast and crew consists of one DP, three actors, one location manager and Jenner herself.  Lunch arrives in a small paper bag: for all six of us: a single bag of cheese puffs, six packets of gum and a box of Oreos.


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