Micro Budget Films

Copyright (c) 2012 Blackboard Production

Many low budget movies have been created overs the years. Quite a few of these low budget movies made a lot of money in the end. Think of “Rocky”, which had a budget of one million dollars and grossed $ 225 million worldwide. “Halloween” was produced with a budget of $ 320,000 and generated 60 million dollars. Others like “Juno” with a budget of $ 6.5 million or “Slumdog Millionaire” with a budget of $ 15 million are still consider low budget movies. Those movies made a lot of money with what they call a small budget but for people like you and me, this is still a hefty sum. What about micro budget films? Is it possible to make a good movie with almost no money? The answer is: yes. It is a very challenging task and not everybody is cut out for it.

First, what is considered a low budget movie? It is a motion picture produced with very little or no funding from a major studio or private investor. Most independent films are made on a low budget. There is no set financial figure determining this kind of films. It is dependent on the country, and the genre of the production. For example, a $ 20 million comedy is not considered low budget. On the other hand, an action movie with the same sum is indeed a low budget production. It’s all relative.

What is a micro budget film? “Blair Witch Project” was made on a budget of $ 35,000. We would not consider this a micro budget because three people in the woods with a shitty camera should not have cost that much. In fact, this was a pretty large budget for the concept. The best example of a micro budget film is Robert Rodriguez’s “El Mariachi”. He was able to shoot his entire movie with only $ 7,000. This is no mistake, he really did filmed the entire film with $ 7,000. His trick was to spend the least money possible: “because if you start to spend, you cannot stop anymore.” Rodriguez developed many tricks to come around without spending money like the use of improvisation or shooting every scene with only one take. The story of the shooting of this film inspired him to write the book “Rebel without a crew”.

The movie was shoot in 1992. There is a difference between $ 7,000 in 1992 and today. If someone wanted to shoot a feature film with this amount of money nowadays, it would fall under no budget. Feature film are still being shot with micro budgets, but it would be around the $ 30,000 mark. Andrew Said Thomas is a micro budget filmmaker who gives a lot of pointers in an article at microfilmmakers.com to cut the costs of your production. He says: “You already know or have accepted that you’ll work for free, and everything you don’t do either costs you money or you’re going to help your friend paint his house next summer.”

It certainly isn’t easy to pull it off, but it is still possible to shoot a micro budget movie. You might not think they are the best films, but for the people who worked on them, they become like their babies. Of course, any filmmaker would prefer to have millions and millions of dollars to spend on their project, but you need to start somewhere. Remember that there is always a way to save money on any of your shoots. The more you do on your own, the more you will save money. Oh, and by the way, “El Mariachi” grossed $ 2 million, so there is money to make even with a micro budget film.

David Vallieres is co-owner of Blackboard Production. He has produce a few videos and films that you can view at http://blackboardproduction.com/ He has a lot of experience with financing micro and low budget videos and movies.

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