Crafting Dagr, a Found Footage Film, on a Shoestring Budget

This week, Giles Alderson and Phil Hawkins chatted with Matthew and Tori Butler-Hart (Fizz and Ginger Films) about their journey into creating a found footage film on a minimal budget. They delved into how it all started, their challenges and successes, and how they embraced imperfect cinematography in order to stay true to the filmmaking style.

First Steps

The idea for Dagr came after the sales company behind Infinitum: Subject Unknown approached Matthew and Tori, with a £7,000 budget and challenged them to craft a found footage film. And although Fizz and Ginger Films were not interested in collaborating with them, they found themselves intrigued by the idea – seeing it as an opportunity for creative exploration.

Driven by the allure of pushing boundaries and venturing into uncharted territory, they embraced the challenge wholeheartedly. As Matthew aptly put it, “If it’s going to be fun, that’s probably the thing we should be doing. It’s our philosophy, really.”

Dagr Movie poster

From Concept to Execution

Adhering to the ethos of found footage filmmaking – they deliberately kept the budget minimal to preserve the DIY essence integral to the genre. “It needs to have that DIY feeling. Let’s go old school. It was our smallest budget yet.”

The process of bringing their vision to life highlighted their adaptability and willingness to embrace all the found footage ‘rules’.

From scouting Airbnb listings for a suitable location, which could double up as accommodation; to enlisting actors who could also take on roles as crew members. Every aspect of the production was planned to maximise efficiency and minimise costs.

The Art of Found Footage Filmmaking

They shared some of the constraints of making found footage.

As a visual storytelling director, Matthew found that relinquishing control over the camera felt liberating, focusing instead on a collaborative project with the actors, which allowed for spontaneity in performance.

Despite the inherent limitations of shooting on iPhones and maintaining the conventions of found footage, they approached the project with a determination to defy expectations.

He “prepared an essay on cinematography for the actors to think about when filming – negative framing, how to create tension and stuff.” They also rehearsed in order to capture the essence of the narrative, and actors were encouraged to use their instinct too.

Creativity and Resilience

Fizz and Ginger’s story serves as a reminder of the enduring power of storytelling, irrespective of the resources. Despite the budgetary constraints and technical limitations, they created a captivating narrative that transcends the boundaries of the genre.

It’s not the size of the budget or the sophistication of the equipment that defines a filmmaker; but the passion, creativity, and resilience they bring to the table.

You can learn more lessons from Matthew and Tori, by listening to the episode here.

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