While the budget of a major movie director would certainly be nice to work with it is necessary to start looking at things from a very different angle at times. If you have a limited budget, you are working against many of the ideas that tend to circulate about the need for highly advanced equipment. However at the same time, there are ways you can get professional or near professional results for a fraction of the cost of professional equipment and lighting is one of the best places you can save money.
It is extremely important to understand that proper professional lights can easily cost between $200 to as much as $1,000 for each light. This is a price range that most people simply cannot afford for a hobby, much less is it possible to afford this while still ensuring that not all of the other areas of your budget suffer. One of the best things that you can do is look for comparable lighting that will provide very similar results for only a fraction of the price. One of the best examples is a light tree, and the use of halogen lights.
These lights can frequently be purchased for less than $40 each and when combined with a $20 light tree you can easily create a comparable light source. Each halogen light can typically produce 500 watts of light, which would require the use of two halogen lights to create the 1,000 watts of power that each key light will typically offer. This can free up your budget substantially for other areas. One important consideration though is exactly what you are trying to light up.
If you are just trying to light up people in natural daylight the usage of additional lighting will be minimum. If you are trying to light up a room that is completely dark, you are going to have more trouble. The benefit with this is that you are able to adjust the light to your specific needs without a great amount of difficulty, however it is critical that you take the time to carefully study different lighting options both behind and in front of the camera to decide what lighting source you like the absolute best.
If you discover that the usage of 500-watt halogen lights is too strong for the scene you are filming it is quite easy to decreasing the lighting. Either you can angle the lights to focus on a different area, or alternatively you could look at even changing the bulbs in the lamps to a lower wattage. Either method will typically suffice, but it is important to ensure if you angel the lights a different direction you are not creating unwanted shadows. Many filmmakers who are just starting to make feature films find that they have problems with unwanted shadows, which are a result of poorly aimed lights. Continuously watching the footage that you are shooting and making periodic checks can help you to combat this problem.
If you find that you really need a bounce card to properly light up your scenes, you have a couple of ideas that are both reasonable. You can either choose to purchase a premade professional quality bounce card, or you can go to your local fabric or craft store and purchase a large piece of white styrophome which can be used quite easily and for a very inexpensive price. As you can see, getting professional quality lights does not have to cost a fortune. While you may want to start saving money to buy the professional equipment it is best to try to handle working the price into your budget slowly and using different pieces of equipment until it is an affordable option.
Quality does not have to be sacrificed in the pursuit of affordability though. Many filmmakers have worked with budgets that were less than stellar. Simply getting out and making films will take some practice but the experience that you gain using alternative equipment can help you to grow as a filmmaker, which will be very helpful in your experience as you grow in the future.