Producing a Low-Budget Film

Workshop by Manuel Silva


Manuel Fernando da Costa e Silva is a film director and a teacher at the Higher School of Arts in Porto, where he was recently elected president of the Board of Directors. He teaches Directing, Narrative Structures, Documentary and Screenplay. He has graduated from the same school with “Film and Video” major and from the Department of Multimedia Communication at Polytechnic Institute of Santarem. He received his Ph.D. at the University of Tras-os-Montes e Alto Douro province. His Ph.D. thesis was about the narrative structure of Portuguese cinema. Manuel Silva is a world-class specialist and he is often invited to be in the jury of many festivals (in Portugal, Romania, Spain, Belgium, Japan). He gives lectures as an invited professor at film and media oriented universities in different countries. He founded the International Film Schools Festival (MIFEC) in 2004, of which he is currently the director and the commissioner.

As the director and screenwriter he has worked on films “The return of the man who didn’t like to leave home” (1996), “The first time” (2000), “A time regained” (2002), “Panóias” (2005) and “1111” (2011, prize for the best film at the International Festival “Avanca”). He is currently working on the fiction film “The man who killed Amália Rodrigues” and the documentary “Die for Love.”


The workshop is about producing low-budget films. Making films today is easier than it was a few years ago. The use of new digital technologies of filming, editing and post-production makes it possible to produce films using very low budget. However, the simplification of technical aspects of the filmmaking process should not  and is not supposed to influence the quality of the final product; on the contrary, requirements to the film become harder to meet with every year. In his workshop, Manuel Silva considers the questions of prioritization of the artistic language and technology, combining aesthetics, ethics, and poetics of an image in filmmaking. The aim of the workshop is to present to young filmmakers the ideas that will allow them to create artistic works of high level in the conditions of low budget. As examples, short clips from the following films will be demonstrated at the workshop: “In Vanda’s Room” (dir. Pedro Costa, 2000), “Arena” (dir. João Salaviza, 2009), “1111” (dir. M. F. Costa e Silva, 2011), “Rafa” (dir. João Salaviza, 2012), “Redemption” (dir. Miguel Gomes, 2013).