5 Tips For Making A No-Budget Movie by ¡CALAMBRE! Writer/Director Carlos Renaso

Watch the video interview on Youtube here

Hello there, my name is Carlos Renaso. I am the writer/director of ¡CALAMBRE!, my debut feature film about a poet who returns to New York City to rekindle an old flame only to realize that she’s moved on.

It’s currently streaming online for as little as $2.99. Today I want to share five tips with you for making a no-budget movie.

Filmmaker Carlos Renaso


We will start off with the budget. Now it varies a bit when you talk to filmmakers in terms of their process. Do you consider the budget or the story first? Me, I like to go with the budget because you can build your story around it. Whatever resources are available, you can use it to begin writing.


“Remember, once you’ve made your film no one can take that away from you.”


Our film ¡CALAMBRE! came a little under $6,000 to get it in the can. But we didn’t have the entire $6,000 at our disposal when we first started shooting. That’s something that really hurt us and set us back from shooting. We had to pay actors and lockdown locations but we couldn’t do that since we were shooting and paying for everything as we worked our day jobs and shot check-to-check. It may seem like the obvious thing to have all the money up front, but not to a filmmaker like me who is just so eager to finish his first film.


You’ve raised the money, now it’s time to write the story. What kind of story do you write? I suggest keeping it simple for comedy or drama. For horror or thriller you might need more money in time for continuity and special effects. But for comedy or drama your biggest worry is going to be the dialogue and the performances, things that as a director are much more manageable for you. Our film ¡CALAMBRE! relies heavily on dialogue and what that allowed me to do was make it like a hangout movie where people have moments of disappointment, where they argue, they laugh or have serious moments. Now one thing you have to be careful of is the number of characters you have in your story. The more you have, the more of a concern it’s going to be later when scheduling actors to shoot.

¡CALAMBRE! has 6 characters in it and that gave me a lot of trouble because people work and have their personal lives as well. So I suggest having three characters at the most for your story. Great examples of this would be Richard Linklater’s TAPE and Christopher Nolan’s first movie FOLLOWING.


Location, location, it’s all about location. As you write your story your visual world will take place. Ideally you want a location that is easily accessible to you via your bedroom or your parent’s house. But if you don’t have those things you might have to pay.

For ¡CALAMBRE! we needed a bar. So we rented out a studio. But the studio presented us with a big issue – sound. The studio was located in an industrial area so there were a lot of trucks outside loading and unloading. It was definitely disruptive. Then down the hall there was a big wedding rehearsal going on. You can imagine the nightmare that it was. My suggestion is always scout the location beforehand. If you’re renting out a place, make sure to ask if your crew members will be the only ones there on shoot day.


This is a big one. Film is a collaborative medium and unless you’re a jack-of-all-trades and can do everything yourself, you’re going to need help whether it’s the sound recordist, cinematographer, sound mixer. Be careful who you trust with your film.

I hired a sound mixer. The person took three months to polish up the sound on ¡CALAMBRE! which is ridiculous because ¡CALAMBRE! is only 52 minutes long.

He missed deadlines because of a personal issue but then it would happen again and again. He finally revealed he had taken on another job just keeping really busy.

How do you avoid this from happening? Before you hire a sound mixer talk with their references. Interview potential candidates if possible. Give them reasonable, strict deadlines and tell them not to take on any other jobs if they’ve taken on your project (especially when you’ve already paid them).


You finish your film, now you’re ready to present it to the world. What kind of film festivals do you submit it to? Local festivals, international festivals? One thing is certain, you’ve got to have a plan about your submissions. I don’t submit to festivals that require more than $50.00. And even at $50.00, make sure that festival caters to your kind of film. You probably shouldn’t submit a comedy into a horror film festival.

Secondly, seek out festivals that are in their first or second year of running. These festivals may be a little bit more receptive to no-budget movies than the bigger, established film festivals. There are even festivals that do online screenings which may be beneficial to your film.

Lastly, keep in mind these festivals require your money to run so be very selective in your submission process.

And there you have it. Now go make your film and remember, once you’ve made your film no one can take that away from you.

My name is Carlos Renaso. Check out my film ¡CALAMBRE! streaming online. Peace!

¡CALAMBRE! is a 53 minute episodic black and white film about a poet who returns to his hometown of New York City to rekindle an old flame, only to complicate his return with new women in his life. A film by Carlos Renaso.

¡CALAMBRE! TRAILER from Carlos Renaso on Vimeo.


About Carlos Renaso:

Born and raised in Harlem, New York City, Carlos Renaso always saw himself as a creative. “I’m a writer first and am very particular about getting it right on the page before directing.” He began writing poetry at age ten, eventually turning to screenwriting nine years later to tell stories about him and his neighborhood and friends. “It really started with Raging Bull. I saw it and it changed me. Instantly, I had to find out how it was made.” He transferred from Binghamton University as a liberal arts major to Hunter College and studied filmmaking under Mick Hurbis-Cherrier. While there, he’d written a crime feature, entitled Uptown Roamers, about the Dominican-American experience but first decided to make a short film showcasing the feature. “Essentially, that’s how All-America City was born, but most importantly I wanted to show young Dominican men living onscreen.” Carlos is currently developing his feature Uptown Roamers.




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Watch it on Amazon here

¡CALAMBRE! is a 53 minute episodic black and white film about a poet who returns to his hometown of New York City to rekindle an old flame, only to complicate his return with new women in his life. A film by Carlos Renaso.