How to make a film when you have less than a third of the budget you need: tips from a young producer

Ediye Kataman had only 3 thousand dollars for a film, although its creation, according to her estimates, required about 15. We have talked to Ediye to find out about her experience of filming, what problems and discrimination a young director faces, how to shoot a film if you don’t even have a half of the required budget and asked for some tips for beginning filmmakers.


This film was my graduate work. I have decided  to make a film about Alim Aydamak. This is the legendary Tatar hero who lived in the middle of the nineteenth century. He is the same as Robin Hood, who attacked the rich and helped the poor. It was difficult for him in the Crimea. So he needed to leave this place. We don’t know if he returned. In general, this is a man who the Crimean Tatar people should be proud of.

I thought it would be just a documentary, because I did not have the resources and the budget. But then I decided to make it live action - I wanted to visualize some scenes from Aidamak’s life. Then I met the philanthropist and he agreed to help.

The budget was small - 3 thousand dollars. We shot in the Crimea. Firstly, I planned that the film would be no more than 15 minutes, but then I got a documentary short drama for 25 minutes.

Team and actors

3,000 dollars is far from the amount that would help to implement this project. 15 thousand dollars would be enough. But I was still technically supported by people in the Crimea and from Kyiv, for whom this idea was not indifferent. Music was made almost for free, costumes too. People really worked sincerely. The team was inspired.

Some actors wanted to help, some wanted to realize themselves, some did it for the portfolio. Also, actors from the Crimean Tatar Drama Theater helped me a lot.

We had been shooting only for 10 days. It was from morning till night every day. Then another two months were a postproduction period. I showed the sponsors only the final version of the film. Then they said that we needed to make a presentation of this film. It was their initiative.

How to make a movie?

Any project that is worth something will surely be implemented.

You should never be afraid that your project won’t be implemented. If you see that it doesn’t work, then the problem is in the project. It could be non-relevant, either you need to modify it, or you need to look for other platforms.

There are numbers of opportunities for this. Not just go to the philanthropist. For example, grants. But they are a very big responsibility. You even have to report on the water you bought. I didn't have time for this.

How to work with philanthropists

I realized that I needed to go to those who support my topic. For example, there are people who have money and want to support the Crimean Tatar history. You come to them and say that you have the same idea, but you can do it the other way. So let's do it together.

I communicated with several philanthropists. One of them told me: "Let me help you, but you will change a script a little bit". I immediately said that I could not, because no one would understand me. He was even ready to give more money, but I was not interested.

I chose the script and less money, because I knew that a lot of criticism would fall on me, and in general in art it is unacceptable for someone to betray your principles.

I would just lose a respect for myself. Although it was a small detail. And I had an idea, if it did not work with other philanthropists of the arts, I would go to that and prove that it was not necessary to do that. But then I was lucky with another person who did not even read the script.

When I came to him, I immediately explained that if there was no budget, I would shoot a simple documentary film, but there would be an identity, which, perhaps, today we have not saved. In my opinion, it sounded convincing.

Working with a team which you don't pay

If you work on the project alone, this project will be your size, not more. I really believe in it.


But I had enough problems with the team. The first thing I needed was discipline. In our work discipline should be on the first place. In this project I realized how important it is to do everything on time. 


I had an actor who recently turned 80 years old. He starred in 25 films and when he heard that this was a diploma project, he refused to act.

He told me that his one shooting day costs at least $ 500. But he came. But then I often had to listen that I do something in a wrong way.

What to do with it? How to cope? Towel in the teeth. No other way. I understood that now I would bear it, but then I would win.

Once we had a big quarrel at the location. People sometimes take on more than they can take. Then I shouted at this man, although he was 30 years older than me, but the reason was important, everyone who was there, supported me. After that, I saw that the situation began to normalize.


It seems to me that the most basic challenge is a resource. If art has no potential to earn, it has no future. Now people can not create in the name of art. Now they are obliged to earn by it, unfortunately.

People are not interested in a project that does not make a profit but young directors are testing themselves, trying to show their style. This is an endless circle.

But I always say: you have a cherry. It can be sour or semi-rotten. You need to make juice out of it. Add sugar, citric acid, add what you want, but make this juice. Then people should say “yes, it is good,” or at least “yes, you can drink it”.

You will not always have enough opportunities. I could say that for 3 thousand dollars I can not make this film. But I started to look for people who could help me for free, somewhere cheaper. If I had not used this opportunity, I would have forgotten about the movie.

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