Guerrilla filmmaking is a risky but rewarding endeavor
February 4, 2011 by Brian Russell
Guerrilla filmmakers aren’t a bunch of James Bonds or 1950s beatniks, but what they do has them constantly looking at the dangling boulder of consequence hanging over their heads.
Being a guerrilla filmmaker often means filming illegally in public areas, where permits are required, but also means making a movie free of Hollywood standards.
Guerilla filmmakers are working with significantly low budgets, on purpose. The movement believes strongly in the artistic effort.
Rob Hunt, director of the fantasy-themed web series Standard Action, has one thought about the guerrilla work he has done in the past.
“I would love to redo all the things I’ve ever made with the people who walk their dogs through the scene. You’re having an epic moment, and then dude and his wife walk by with their tiny dog. And it’s like, ‘Hey, just go through’,” said Hunt.
And while the frequent possibility of people walking into frame is always keeping the guerrilla filmmaker vigilant, the much greater threat of facing a hefty fine for filming without a permit, or even being arrested, looms.
Hunt recalls a story he heard about a filmmaking experience gone awry.
“I know other people who have had issues…[a guy] had [fake] guns and they were filming in a house, so it was totally legitimate, and then one of the actors wandered out in the alley…and was posing with it, and then people called the cops and next thing you know, dude’s on the ground with a real gun pointed at his head,” Hunt said.
Working on a tight budget already, having to cough up any amount of money to something other than their masterpiece certainly isn’t helpful. But what about the equipment? That stuff must not come cheap, right?
It’s true, it can be costly to invest in the right equipment, but Hunt says that if you have a decent DSLR camera, such as a Canon Rebel T2i, and good sound equipment, including a boom mic, you’re all set to start shooting.
You’ll also need a cast. Hunt recommends Craigslist as a good source of finding actors and crew members, but warns that it can also be a sour experience.
“I’ve seen some great miracles happen from the people I’ve pulled off of Craigslist…just be ready to have a little bit of friction or find people who don’t actually help,” said Hunt.
Guerrilla filmmaking allows those without the money to film big-budget productions live out their passion for making movies and being creative. Hunt is an advocate for it for one other reason.
“You’ll see ideas come from independent film that studios are not willing to take a risk on,” he said.
Some mainstream directors got their start working guerrilla style, including Black Swan director Darren Aronofsky and Malcolm X director Spike Lee.