How to make a documentary film on a shoestring budget

How to Make a Documentary on a Shoestring Budget

Documentary filmmaking is a great way to tell stories and share important information. However, it can also be expensive. If you’re on a tight budget, don’t worry! There are still plenty of ways to make an excellent documentary.

In this blog post, I will share some tips and tricks for making a documentary on a shoestring budget. I’ll cover everything from finding funding to shooting and editing your film. By the end of this blog post, you’ll have all the tools you need to make your documentary a reality.

close up photo of camera equipment
Photo by Lê Minh on

Finding Funding

The first step to making a documentary is finding funding. You can get away with making a short film if you have no budget. However, to make a feature-length documentary, you’ll need to find some way to raise money.

There are a few different ways to find funding for your documentary. You can apply for grants, raise money through crowdfunding, or seek out private investors.


There are many different grants available for documentary filmmakers. Some of these grants are specific to certain topics or regions, while others are more general. You can search online or contact your local film commission to find gifts that fit your project well.


Crowdfunding is a great way to raise money for your documentary. Several different crowdfunding platforms are available, such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo. With crowdfunding, you can ask your friends, family, and fans to donate money to your project.

Private Investors

You can attract private investors to your documentary if you have a strong business plan and a great team. Private investors are typically wealthy individuals or businesses looking to invest in promising projects.

Shooting Your Documentary

Once you have funding in place, it’s time to start shooting your documentary. When shooting on a shoestring budget, being resourceful and creative is essential. You may need help to afford the latest and most excellent equipment, but there are still plenty of ways to make your film look great.

Here are a few tips for shooting your documentary on a shoestring budget:

  • Use natural light whenever possible.
  • Shoot on a tripod to keep your footage steady.
  • Use a wide-angle lens to capture more of the scene.
  • Get creative with your audio recording. You can use a handheld recorder or even your smartphone to record audio.

Editing Your Documentary

Once you’ve shot your footage, it’s time to edit your documentary. Editing is where you’ll bring your story to life. It’s essential to take your time with the editing process and ensure your film flows well.

Here are a few tips for editing your documentary:

  • Start by creating a rough cut of your film. This will give you a general idea of how your story will unfold.
  • Once you have a rough cut, start refining your footage. Cut out any unnecessary scenes and make sure that the transitions are smooth.
  • Add music and sound effects to enhance your film.
  • Color correct your footage to make it look its best.

Distributing Your Documentary

Once your documentary is complete, it’s time to start distributing it. There are several different ways to distribute your film, including:

  • Film festivals
  • Online streaming platforms
  • DVD sales
  • Public screenings

Here are a few tips for distributing your documentary:

  • Start by submitting your film-to-film festivals. This is a great way to get your film seen by a wider audience.
  • Once your film has been screened at a few festivals, you can look into online streaming platforms. Several platforms offer documentary films, like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.
  • You can also sell DVDs of your film through your website or online retailers.
  • Finally, you can organize public screenings of your film. This is a great way to connect with your audience and build buzz for your movie.
  • Making a documentary on a shoestring budget can be challenging, but it’s possible. By following the tips in this blog post, you’ll be well on making your documentary a reality.

What are you waiting for? Start planning your documentary today!