Making a short movie on a budget can be hard. However, it can also free you to be far more creative and learn far more about making an effective film. However, there is a thin line between making a movie on a budget and making a movie that looks cheap.
Ultimately, if the script is right, the acting is great and the film has a balanced and effective tone created by the right director, there is a good chance that even a zero budget movie can be a very valuable calling card in the industry. The main thing to do then is simply to make sure it is authentic.
Whether your script is a period one or simply set somewhere in particular, making sure that you create that time or place effectively is going to be very important. Movie props may seem like mere window dressing, but they can actually give far more of a sense of a time or place than anything any character says or does. As such, the right props may mean the battle is halfway won.
Props also don’t have to cost the earth. By renting them from the right companies you are likely to be able to get very realistic articles to complete a scene at a very low cost. As such, when you are looking to shoot a budget short film to help improve your craft or get you noticed, locations and movie props are the places where your money should go. There are many great actors out there who will be willing to work on the right project for simply their expenses and, if you make the right movie, the results will be as beneficial for them as they will be for you.
So, when making any budget piece, strive for authenticity, not just in the performances but also in the physical world you create.