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How to Make Sci-Fi on a Shoestring Budget

The Creator crew on location in Thailand
Filming The Creator in Thailand. Note the minimal movie equipment.

The Creator could become a template for economical movie-making.

At $80 million US, the budget doesn't seem very economical, but let's compare it with other films released last summer:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 approx. $250 million budget

  • Transformers: Rise of the Beasts approx. $200 million budget

  • Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny approx. $295 million budget

When you compare the numbers, $80 million almost looks like pocket change.

So how did filmmakers spend so (relatively) little on a movie that looks much more expensive?

First, The Creator was filmed in Southeast Asia, hiring local residents as supporting actors and extras. Filmmakers also avoided using green screen, which isn't always cost effective, and they added sci-fi effects later.

Crews filmed in countries such as Thailand, Cambodia, Nepal, and Indonesia, with studio filming in England.

Second, director Gareth Edwards made a surprising choice: He used a Sony FX3 Cinema Camera for on-location filming.

The FX3 is considered an "entry-level" camera, and it sells for about $5,000 CDN. State-of-the-art Hollywood cameras are approx. $1,000 - $10,000 per day to rent.

A lighter, smaller camera afforded Edwards and his crew greater mobility and flexibility.

Third, there have been significant advances in lighting. Cameras now have higher ISO settings which allow filming in dark areas - or at night - with very little lighting. It also means crews don't have to spend time reconfiguring lights with different camera set-ups.

Reviewers say The Creator has the look and feel of a classic Hollywood film, and Edwards himself has named a few classic films as inspiration. He even chose an ultra-wide aspect ratio which gives the movie a more "cinematic" feel.

Do you think this could be the new way to make movies?

The Creator is at Stettler's Jewel Theatre October 20-26. Please check for showtimes before arriving at the theatre. See you at the movies! Ruth

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