“FRAMED”- How I made a movie with a thousand bucks

I lost my dad in my final year of college, July 2nd 2016. He had no idea I wanted to be a film maker. The plan was to get my bachelor’s and go to law school; my plan was to get my bachelors, do my masters in film production, become successful at it, then, show him what I was capable of. If he could see it, he’d understand better. Of course, I never got the chance to do any of that and I blamed myself for wasting so much time. When I was finally able to move past the hurt, I decided to go head on into professional film making. Maybe, I could share my work with my mum before it was her time, maybe, wherever he was, I could share it with him too. In October 2016, I began the pre-production of “Framed”.

The Script

Although I majored in Business Administration and English, I never passed up on the opportunity to take filmmaking classes at schools like Vanderbilt University and The Watkins School of Film.  For one of the classes, the final exam was to write a script for short film. At that time, I had just come out of what was an abusive relationship and the school had not handled it in what I would think was the best way possible. I remember being so angry and hungry for justice so, when I picked up that script to produce two years later, it was easy to see how my emotions had clouded my creative judgement. I had 22 pages full of angry rants and a story that I wouldn’t pay to watch. I decided to revise, keeping the core idea the same but reworking the dialogue and introducing more elements of suspense. By the time I was done, I had rewritten almost the entire script. I sent this draft to a professor of mine who happened to be a judge, implemented some of his corrections, then, printed out the final draft.

The Budget

When I was ready to produce, I did not have any money. I wanted a good quality production, I also knew that I did not want to spend over $400 which was to cover cinematography and refreshments. I had a couple of friends who had recently graduated but already had jobs, so, I wrote a detailed business plan asking for an investment of $400 and promising them a refund with 20% on whatever profits the film would incur and sent it to them. At the end of two weeks, I got three investors giving 200, 100 and 100 each.

The Cinematographer

I’ve been opportuned to work with a couple of Nollywood producers when they come to Atlanta to film. Working on set gives you the opportunity to network with fellow creatives. When I was ready for my project, I contacted a cinematographer who had shot for Robert Peters while I was on his set. Being a Hollywood professional, his rates where extremely high, so, rather than communicate with him, I decided to speak to a local film maker I knew. He had cheaper rates but he offered me a schedule that meant he would be absent for 4 out of the 8 hours we were to shoot each day. Having no other option, I was open to seeing how that would work out. Two days to the shoot, J.L contacted me to see how I was doing. I let him know my challenges and he responded. “Lilian, you should have communicated this to me. I understand that you’re a young creative with little or no budget and I’m willing to help you. Besides, I have nothing to do this weekend, coming down to Nashville will be fun” He accepted my meager offer of  “$175 per day for two and half days. I fired the cinematographer that day and moved forward with J.L

The Actors

I knew a couple of good actors, that I had been on set with before, who were actively building their portfolio, I also recently been in a play and there were some amazing actors there too. I also had a friend who had constantly expressed his interest in film to me. I pitched the idea to them and they all agreed to work for free pending pay if the film became a financial success.

The Location

I wanted to shoot “Framed” in a court room, with an actual jury to make it more believable, so, I wrote a letter to the court, one month later, I got a letter of denial. I, then, spoke to a professor of mine who was also a film maker. She had a friend that was a judge, whom she believed might be able to help. Unfortunately, the judge was scheduled to travel at the time when i was to be shooting. She, then, advised me to find a conference room  as make do. I found one in the school and she spoke to a few people that assured me that I could use it. A day to the shoot, however, I was informed by the school that I couldn’t use the location for reasons I’ve been advised not to disclose. This was a huge bummer as all plans had already been set in place, my cinematographer was already on his way to Nashville. I remember crying my eyes out. At this point all I had was God. They had this huge meeting and somehow the professor I mentioned earlier  was able to convince them to let me use the location.

The process

I had the cast members meet twice a week for two weeks for table reads before the actual shoot. We shot for two and half days. the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of December 2016. Then I traveled to Nigeria. When I returned I formally began editing in March 2017, a process that took up to two months.

The Unexpected

If anything can go wrong during a production, it would. We had challenges of every sort, from “forgetting lines” to broken memory cards, to insufficient storage drives. I had to make expenses I never planned for along the way. I’m grateful for the friends I had around me that supported in a way or the other at this point. One of the toughest part of producing “Framed” was the editing. I did not include a budget for editing because I expected that myself and a friend of mine would do that together. However, when it was time to edit we realized that “Framed had been shot in such a professional format that only a professional editor could handle it.

I remember the cinematographer asking me while shooing if I wanted him to shoot 4k raw on Black Magic. I didn’t really know what that entailed but I knew Black Magic was a Hollywood style camera and 4k meant clearer pictures so I gave the go ahead. When I got my raw footage, it came out as individual frames of pictures. An initial rendering had to to take place before these raw footage could even be maneuvered. Long story short,I had to cough out an extra $425 to pay the editor which, believe me, for the work he did not just on editing but also on color grading , audio sync and correction, is chicken change.

At the end of the day, I ended up spending $1025 to produce a film which should have cost me nothing less that $5000. I experienced grace at so many points. Knowing the value of my work and comparing it with the actual cost of good productions as well as the trashiness of some low budgets productions, I honestly say, I could not have done it without the grace of God, the selfless contribution of creatives, family, and friends around me.

I want to give 20 people an chance to watch “FRAMED” before it gets to streaming sites. If you’re interested just leave a comment. Don’t forget to put down your email so I know how to where to send the private link ;).

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41 Comments Add yours

  1. Hamza says:

    Are you not a Nigerian? Must you use USD as your currency?

    Like

    1. Udeozor Obiorah Valentine says:

      The movie was produced and shot in America sir

      Like

    2. Dear Hamza, I live in America. The movie was shot and produced there as well.

      Like

  2. dare says:

    I see your focus and drive, I believe you will be a great film maker

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, I appreciate this.

      Like

  3. Udeozor Obiorah Valentine says:

    This story held me spellbound dearie…. I’m so proud of u like always. Wish I could hug u from here. Love you! Valentine OBIORAH(Nibo)

    Like

    1. Aww, thank you Val, I appreciate you

      Like

  4. somzy says:

    Lilian, I’m proud of you, keep it up! Remain focused and with God you’re limitless.

    Like

    1. Thank you Somto, God bless you.

      Like

  5. Ozioma says:

    Pls I am interested in seeing the movie

    Like

    1. Check your email for a link

      Like

  6. Feranmi says:

    Inspiring Lillian keep the fire burning, the sky is your starting point👍

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Chinenye says:

    Keep it up Lilian. I would like to see the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Check your email for a link

      Like

  8. ashore says:

    Hey Lilian… You’re doing a great job. Well done.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. China Olisa says:

    I want to see the movie 🙌🙌… Girl you’re taking the right path and the sky is your limit. Keep up the good work it pays

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, girl. Check your email for a link

      Like

  10. Precious Bernard says:

    Congratulation girl I’m super happy for you, the sky is your limit

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thank you my love

      Like

  11. Ruth Anyaeche says:

    Good Job!!! keep the fire burning. I also want to see the movie.

    Like

    1. check ur email for a link

      Like

  12. Tomilola Olukini says:

    I am so proud of what you have grown up to be. You are definitely not the same girl that used to cry for her parents in JS 1. Congrats Lilian. Cheers to more that is to come. 🍷
    tomilolaolukini@gmail.com

    Like

    1. Lmaooooo you just opened my yansh here. Thank you Tomi, I appreciate this.

      Like

  13. I Really Can’t wait to see the movie. More prosperity to you 😚

    Like

    1. Thank you love. Check your email for a link.

      Like

  14. Onyinye says:

    Congrats beauty, I wish many more achievements and success to come, with God by your side all things are possible.. The sky is just your starting point.. I wish to see the movie also 😀

    Like

    1. Thanks love!! I emailed you a link.

      Like

  15. Olebu Favour says:

    Lilian, I love good movies and I’m sure interested in watching this..my email address is phavour@ymail.com

    Like

    1. Thank you!! I emailed you a link.

      Like

  16. Seun says:

    Great movie Lilian.
    Looking forward to watching it.
    You are destined for greatness and this is just the beginning

    Like

    1. Thank you!! I emailed you a link.

      Like

  17. Ibeneme Caleb says:

    Well, knowing u from a distance was great, you really do thing that make me encourage keep it up lil…the story behind was wow…a $1000bucks…keep the good stuff coming dear…am on the look out for more.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Hey Lilian congratulations on your film~~chisom ogbuefi

    Like

  19. EBUKA says:

    LILLY BABY! Steady making me proud.❤
    I was going to start up a conversation with you to know how you went about making a movie. Like that week I could not keep calm 😄 “Christ! Lilian just made a movie! 😱” , that was the state of mind I remained in, after which It hit me “making a movie should have cost her a whole lot , how the hell did she do it?” Kept wondering until now. 👏👏👏. Such a blessed soul, to think God hasn’t started with you yet !💃💃💃 Too excited for what the future holds. Congratulations once again baby girl , so proud !

    Oh yes please! I’ll take that link and get myself a HDMI cord, some popcorn, a drink and fuel of cause (u never know how it is doing NEPA these days 😏). 👌👍💯

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ebuka love!!! I always appreciate your comments. Thank you for following me on this journey. I’ll be emailing you the link in a few.

      Like

  20. Shade says:

    Girl I would love to see the movie. Congrats dear, more grace.

    Like

  21. Steve says:

    Send me the link Lillian I would love to see it

    Like

  22. Oyin says:

    Great job Lilian. The sky will be your beginning in Jesus name.

    Liked by 1 person

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