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Limited Resources?

Being Creative With Restricted Cash

Beginning a project with a limited budget, lack of sources, and even unclear goals can be daunting – but creativity doesn’t care about this.

Creativity is in love with Ideas. They flirt with one another about the things they could achieve together, but sometimes Budget, along with his gang of hoodlums Doubt and Lack of Clarity, show up to fight Creativity. They want Ideas all to themselves, so she can never become the beautiful thing that she is destined to be. But creativity won’t let this happen – will he?

No he won’t. 

We’re often presented with projects that have scope that arguably outweighs what could conventionally be achieved. The trick is to not view the limitations of a project as a stumbling block, but simply as an impetuous for creating something even more incredible with what little you have.

For example, it may be the case that you have a few hours worth of footage, but no editable narrative or structure. There’s a danger that these images could live out their days stuck on some hard drive in the electronic equivalent of a gulag, only to whittle down before presenting data errors, or hammering out cyclic redundancy checks whilst consuming lend-lease spam.

Even with a relatively small budget, much can be achieved. If there’s no obvious narrative, then make one. Not enough moolah for a voice artiste? That doesn’t matter – concentrate on the visual aspects. Are there ways you can link ideas together so that they make sense? A common theme or thread?

It’s simply a case of imagining the best way to house the idea.

I’m holding a pencil in my hand right now. It’s nothing special. There’s an eraser on the end encased in a thin layer of metal and the tip is quite sharp. Along one of the sides there is ‘HB’ written, followed by the number two, and a brand name I’m not familiar with. The pencil is yellow. I’ll call her Jane.

By taking a simple concept – in this case a pencil that I just snapped in half – and dressing it appropriately, suddenly it becomes engaging (assuming you’ve read this far) and has a purpose:

Jane used to make marks on paper before I broke her in half. Now she’s DEAD.

Anyway, if there’s a lack of contextualisation then it has to be created, and there are a limited number of ways to achieve this, but each with limitless possibilities. 

1. Images

Images are a great way to make sense of something if there’s nothing else to demonstrate it. Add a touch of the old Ken Burns, or even adopt some composite imagery to add another dimension, and you’re laughing your way to whichever bank you happen to be tied to.

2. Narration

Especially important if there isn’t any sound currently attached to the project, adding a narrative glue to the piece is a sure-fired way to exemplify purpose, story or message.

3. Go crazy

An alternative to a traditional route would be to simply go nuts and create some whacked-out pastiche, using precise editing and the very essence of recycling to create something completely new. Great for music videos, certainly.

4. Illustrations/Animation

Create your own source material. There’s nothing stopping you – even the crudest of imagery can convey a point.

Eventually, the aim is to create something cohesive. Even with no source material, something can be made. It really is simply a case of making it: whatever you think, try thinking the opposite.