Extremely low budget filmmaking research – that’s why I was complaining about numbers in titles

This was an incident that happened to me not long ago. I was trying to find a web page that I never bookmarked, and I had recently cleared the history in my other browser, and I’m pretty sure that’s the browser I had used to read this page. It was a really good page with a lot of substance and really good suggestions about how to make a film on an extremely low budget.

The one thing I remember him talking about was, use resources you already have. You make a list (now I’m averse to even talking about ‘making a list’) of the things you have. Like, I used to be renting a room in an extremely messy, cluttered house, but that house was really interesting to explore the inside of, and one time, during an unsustainable manic project, I took some photos of the inside of the house (actually, I know what triggered the project – Jesse wanted photos taken of his own house and this town when he was in the army and homesick), and used some of those photos in part of a little video game, except it was unfinished, I was just using it to learn how to use GameMaker. I was using the photos in a Myst-like way, where you click on a photo and it takes you to the next one.

So, that cluttered house was the resource I already had, which was useful for making a zero budget video game out of photographs of rooms full of clutter. I didn’t have a plan for the game, but it involved interacting with clutter and searching for treasures and important artifacts (like The Goonies, going into the attic and finding a pirates’ treasure map).

Well, I tried and I tried and I tried to find that exact same web page, using the same search terms, and it had originally been close enough to the top of the google search results that I was able to find it several more times, so I figured I would *always* be able to just google it when I wanted to go read it again, on a whim. But after a while, it disappeared from the search results, and all I could find were thousands and thousands of other pages talking about how to make an extremely low budget movie, except it wasn’t the page that I wanted! This one particular page was extremely deep, and it had actual writing on it. The ‘spammy’ pages were shallower, with short, brief paragraphs that contained little insight, and every single one of them had a number in the title – 5 things you need to do in order to make a low budget movie.

There are never merely 5 things you need to do. There are 2,560,384 things you need to do. On a really thorough page, it should be almost as thorough as *reading a book*. I really wanted to avoid all of the single-digit lists of things you need to do in order to make a really good low budget movie! They were always short, brief, shallow, and written by people who seemed to have absolutely no *personal* knowledge or experience of writing a movie. It was like, ‘I once heard about somebody somewhere who wrote a movie, and this is what they did.’ The one web page I liked the most was written by a guy who actually was *making* movies and was pretty much an expert on the topic of low budget movies. So it really, really frustrated me to see that everybody and their uncle had an *opinion* on how to make a low budget movie, but none of them were experts at it who were really doing it all the time. I still can’t find that same page.

When I struggle to recall what he said, it was like, use the resources you already have. That’s all I can remember from what he said. He actually had almost a detailed list of instructions of all sorts of things you needed to do, and the rationale behind them. He had concrete, specific suggestions, not a mere short little paragraph.

It was that moment when I really became acutely aware of the plague of short lists on the internet, and how those articles were doing a ‘forum slide’ in the search results, pushing the most in-depth and high quality detailed information down to result number 5784480347 so that you couldn’t find it, and *every single result* above that was a short numbered list of three-sentence paragraphs made by a non-expert who had an opinion but had never actually made a movie before.


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