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From Big Budget to No Budget: The Joys of Indie Filmmaking


I recently returned home from the New Mexico desert where I was shooting a super micro budget film with a team of four, including myself. I was surprised by how many people asked me, “Why did you make this movie?” “Do you have a distribution deal?” “Why would you make a no budget film, after you just made a big budget film?”

Frankly I was a bit surprised by how many people asked me this question. I am a filmmaker; it is my heart, my soul, and my passion to tell stories. I need creativity, like I need air to breathe. It isn’t about the bottom line; it is about my pure need to create.

ayor team tent

(left to right – Helenna Santos, Alexandra Boylan, John KD Graham, and Richard Galli on set for “At Your Own Risk”)

Honestly if you don’t truly love the creative process of making a movie, then this business is not for you. It is a very small percentage of producers, writers, and directors who make a living off of making their own movies.

For me it was actually extremely refreshing to go from the high intense stress of making a movie with investor’s money, dealing with star talent, and running a 45 person crew, to being out in the middle of nowhere with a couple of my friends, just having fun. Everyday we woke up, drank coffee, went over the script, and headed out to location to shoot, sometimes six scenes in one day! It was a blast. It felt like I was returning to my roots. Making movie magic for fun, without any expectations of what will happen when the movie is complete. There is no guarantee for independent films anyway, correction, there is no guarantee for any film, PERIOD!

team ayor walking

With all the tools available to filmmakers today, there is no reason people can’t be making their own films all the time. Even if you’re doing it just to learn, which you should be, it’s worth it to pick up a camera, grab some friends and make something. It will also give you the insight into whether you want to truly be in this business or not. Because if you don’t want to want to make no budget films, just for fun, to be creative with your friends, then the chances of you surviving this town are slim to none.

No one asks a painter, “Why did you paint that painting?” And if they do it’s probably because they wanted to know the inspiration behind the artwork. Be inspired to tell stories, and don’t be afraid to ask yourself, “Why am I not making a movie?”

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At Your Own Risk movie team

Alexandra Boylan

About Alexandra Boylan

Alexandra Boylan (Producer, Writer, Actor, Co-Founder Mustard Seed Entertainment and Mirror Tree Productions) Alexandra is an award-winning filmmaker. MirrorTree Productions, has produced numerous feature films, including "Home Sweet Home" and "At Your Own Risk". Her company Mustard Seed Entertainment's film "Catching Faith" had a two year run on Netflix and was on the shelves of Wal-Mart. Her most recent film "Wish For Christmas" sold to Pure Flix Entertainment and Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Alexandra’s script "Switched" was awarded the winner of the Kiaros Pro MovieGuide award for best screenplay. She is the author of "Create Your Own Career in Hollywood: Advice from a struggling actress who became a successful producer" available in Kindle and print on Amazon, and is an active member of Woman in Film Los Angeles where she served on the WIF PSA Board. Alexandra co-collaborated on the book "Thriving in Hollywood!" for