How to make a Cannes movie for almost nothing

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Noah Pink, extreme budget filmmakerCANNES -- You, too, can make a movie and get it into the exclusive Cannes Film Festival, all for $1,504.

Here's how: Pay your lead actor $400, your two main supporting actors $200 apiece, and your two secondary actors $100 each.

Then shoot the film in Zambia and impress your country back home enough that it pays for the pricey digital-to-film conversion that Cannes demands.

It worked for Canada's Noah Pink, whose ZedCrew premieres this week in the festival's Directors Fortnight section.

Here's the budget-saving catch: Pink, 27, already had a job in Zambia to shoot a documentary for an organization called Transaid. It paid for the flight from Pink's base in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He also got to borrow the camera he used to film the documentary. Then he took road shots for his 44-minute movie as he traveled for Transaid.

"Hopefully this will be the next step to go on and make a feature," he told WalletPop at the beachside Canadian Pavilion.

Resourcefulness won't be an obstacle. He auditioned his lead actor, Alvin Fungo, via MySpace, and told Fungo to round up other capable hip-hop artists who could act. ZedCrew centers around three young men in Zambia determined to become rappers in New York. The idea percolated for a while, but Pink didn't write the script until he met his actors in Zambia and hashed out the story with them.

As soon as he finished his job for Transaid, he and cinematographer Christopher Porter began filming the movie in Lusaka, the capital. They finished in two weeks, spending an additional $300 on taxis, $100 for food, $100 for hiring a truck and paying off a security guard to let him film on a rooftop, and $4 for a makeshift boom pole.

When Pink showed the edited version back home, Film Nova Scotia chipped in $14,000 for the 35-millimeter conversion. When Cannes accepted the film, Telefilm Canada donated marketing funds and the festival gave him €500 for expenses.

Now he's a filmmaker in the Fortnight, the same category that launched Spike Lee with She's Gotta Have It. Pink questioned whether he would again try to make a film on such a frayed shoestring, but he made the most of it.

"Technology is changing and it's allowing almost anybody to pick up a camera and make a movie," he said. "The downfall is people don't check through their story enough."

Here's the math for you doubters:

$400 for lead actor
$200 supporting actor
$200 supporting actor
$100 secondary supporting actor
$100 secondary supporting actor
$300 taxis in Zambia
$100 food
$100 hiring a truck and paying off security guard
$4 makeshift boom rod
-----------------------------------
$1,504 total cost to make Zedcrew
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