Make Homemade Movies On A Budget!

Homemade Movies

Often when young people think that making good homemade movies might be a fun project, they think that it must be an expensive and altogether out-of-reach dream. If you are of this opinion, let me ease your worries by telling you that this is not exactly the case.

Although Hollywood movies do usually cost an outrageous amount of money to make, yours don’t have to. If you are willing to work hard to make your funds, are careful with how you spend them, create a project budget and stick with it, you are sure to come out on top with homemade movies of at least decent quality.

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Getting Started Making Your Homemade Movies

The first thing to take into consideration is how you will make your money. Fundraisers, I would say specifically carwashes, are your best go.


Choose your location to be a public place where there will be a lot of traffic, and get out there with your signs. Invite some of your potential cast to wash with you. On average, we made about $200 at each carwash. One thing to consider if you are doing it outside a business is that you will definitely want to get permission from the manager of the store.


If you hold auditions, be sure to sell small concessions to raise some money. This is a great way to get your funds as the people are there because they want to support your homemade movies. 

Do not be afraid to jack the prices up a little bit. It is a fundraiser, and you are doing it to make money, not because you thought it might be fun. Don’t be disappointed if your first couple fundraisers are not a huge success, keep trying and remember that some money is better than no money. 


One last way to make money is on a website. If you honestly state your intentions, are passionate about what you have to offer, and humbly ask for the help you need, chances are people will want to donate to your cause.

For your first movie, you will really want to push donations. Once you have made a movie though, you are going to shift your attention on getting people to buy your homemade movies instead of straight up asking for donations. Since you have a product, be sure to offer it.

A Word On Spending While Raising Money

Another thing to consider is that you don't have to meet your whole project goal before spending the funds. Outlaws of Ravenhurst cost around $5,000 to make and Max and Carlota cost around $3,000, but we never had that money just sitting in the bank. We were spending and receiving money throughout the entire production. 

Buying Equipment For Homemade Movies

How To Make A Movie

Once you have raised enough money to get started, begin writing your budget. Watching Jim Morlino’s How to Make a Movie is a great way to get an idea of what all you are going to need.

The only thing that might prove to cost you quite a bit is your equipment, but you will only need to buy it once. All you need to begin with is a microphone and a camera that the microphone can plug into. You can work on getting better lights in one of your future homemade movies.

As for editing software, all Apple products come with iMovie, which works great for creating low budget films. Start with that and then upgrade when you think you are ready, with your skills and your budget, for a more advanced program. For our fourth film, Pelayo, we did upgrade to Adobe PremierePro for editing. FinalDraft is the best script writing software, but anything that can have lines written on it will work. For more on screenwriting, click here!

Pelayo The Movie

Be Thrifty!

The next most important aspect you are going to want to be really great is your costumes. Think of your movie. What time period is it? Make a Pinterest board on what your characters probably would have dressed like.

Work With What You Have First

After you have covered nearly every character, look really closely at your ideas and think of these questions:

  • Is there a way that you could possibly make these costumes? 
  • Is there stuff in your trash-to-treasure bin that you can use? 
  • Is there anything in your closet that might work with a little embellishing? 
  • Can you easily acquire these items from your friends? (Make a list of things people might have and send it out to see if you can acquire the things you need.)

These are the thoughts a thrifty costume designer who doesn’t have all the money in the world needs to consider. 

Then Look To See What You Need To Buy

If there is anything you cannot make, go ahead find these things or something that will work at a store or online. 

Don’t forget to shop for the props and sets in the same way! Mary (our director) always builds a budget that has the movie with the best possible items she would ever want. 

Then she makes a separate budget with the same items, but the least expensive version. This makes it easy to compromise with a lower budget than you were expecting. 

Grisly Grisell watch now

Sell Your Movies!

Don’t be afraid to sell your end product. There are many Christian people that will appreciate wholesome, homemade movies made by other Christian groups.

That being said, be sure to make a movie from a work in the public domain, a historic event, or an original story so that you don’t need to worry about copyright infringement.

The Benefits Of Making Movies From Books

Making a book into a film is difficult, but it is better than an original story if you are not too passionate about spending tons of time developing a story. Making a movie from a popular story, Outlaws of Ravenhurst, was one of the best things Mary and I ever did.

Because it was popular in Catholic circles, we had people looking to buy who we didn’t even know. They were just looking to see if a movie had ever been made of their favorite novel. If you sell your movies, it will be easier to make another one, and trust me, if you make one, there will be others.

The Encouragement From Buyers

Selling also is very encouraging as you often get positive feedback as well as funds for your next project. Having a premiere is also a great fundraiser for the next movie. Don't be afraid to sell concessions and tickets.

Outlaws of Ravenhurst the Movie

At Your Shoots

Hire Your Family And Yourself

When you go to make your movie, remember that you are not a director in Hollywood. There isn’t really a “director’s chair" at shoots for homemade movies. Since all of your workers are volunteers, they will not have the same commitment as someone who is being paid.

You are usually not only the director but also the camera man, the equipment manager, and the make-up artist. Your best employees are the members of your immediate family. You will not want to ask very many people for their input besides them.

Get A Mentor

When Mary and I were making our first movie, we were fortunate enough to have Jim Morlino as our mentor over email. If you can find someone like that to help you, that is great. If the other families offer to help, that is wonderful, but don’t expect it. 

Give the most difficult and most demanding jobs to your brothers and sisters. Your mom and dad will be your greatest supporters and will not mind giving their honest opinion. 

No one will love the project as much as the creators. But that is just fine. Confide in those you love and don’t expect to please everyone. 

Don't Expect An Award-Winner The First Time

One last bit of advise I would offer is to be satisfied if the movie has the quality of the movies from the sixties. People still love Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments even though they are not pristine and have realistic looking special effects. 

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"Best Of Luck To Ya, Silver!" 

I wish you all the luck of the world in your movie making projects. Let me warn you, there is something addicting about making a movie. No matter what you go through during the last project, you will be back at it as soon as possible.

Remember to keep in mind to use your money wisely on the most important aspects of your homemade movies. Don’t forget to work hard at raising your funds, being thrifty when it comes to making costumes and sets, and to work hard on those shoot days.

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An aid for families encouraging the reconstruction of the social fabric by sparking interest in Christian art and culture. Find beautiful novels, films, music, food and customs.