What’s better: interior or exterior locations for zero dollar filmmaking? Both have positives and negatives attributes, and both can save us money – depending on how we utilize each.

Generally speaking, I would have to say that interiors are a better choice for saving time and money. That said, nothing will save you more time and money like an exterior location on the “perfect weather” day, and a location far enough away from unwanted noises. That is why we see so many low-budget zombie/slasher films because they usually take place in the woods (or in a cemetery). Of course, they also use a lot of exterior night shooting – which brings in its own set of problems (that we will address on another day). So since both perfect weather and a quiet locale are very hard to come by…interiors win out over exteriors generally speaking for zero budget filmmaking.
Interiors are easier for controlling your lighting, as well as the amount of lighting, and easier to be consistent with your lighting. Of course, you have to have good initial lighting to control, but with today’s low-light camera, existing lighting can be just fine in many applications (especially in zero-budget ones). Most cameras will adjust for fluorescent lighting or incandescent lighting, depending on how your room is lit.
Controlling your existing light for exteriors can be tough, especially if it is a partly cloudy day, because one minute you have harsh sunshine, and the next you might be under cloud cover. A cloudy day is going to be the best option, but then you have to worry about rain. “Not a cloud in the sky” is pretty good, except it can lead to very harsh lighting (and very hot days!)
Interiors are better for controlling your sound, too. You can turn off loud A/C units (but it gets hot quick); refrigerators (don’t forget to turn it back on!); you can take batteries out of loud tick tock clocks; even outside road noise can be quieted using blankets to cover windows. (Very hard to quiet outside road noise when you are outside!) No matter if inside or outside, be prepared to be hear every dog barking in the neighborhood, everyone who is cutting grass that afternoon (and weed whacking!), even discovering which of your neighbors has the loudest car.
So think about all this when you are scouting your locations. The best ones are far away from civilization with all the noise and traffic. Hmmm…sounds like a cabin in the woods to me – yes, the greatest and cheapest location. That does not mean you have to do a slasher film (but why not?). Good examples of other-type films done in the quiet of a secluded country house are Misery (1990); how about a kidnapping film; or maybe a “get-away” film like Grown Ups (2010); or a “get away” film where people are holed-up and on the lam. This is where you can be creative and save some cash (and headaches and heartaches). What are other examples of films shot in a “cabin in the woods?”


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