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.

Five British Films You Must See

The British Film Industry has seen many peaks and troughs since it began around the turn of the 20th century. Cinema began in the UK with William Friese Greene’s producing the first known projected moving image on celluloid film. In the following 119 years there have been many successes and failures that have influenced not only the film industry but British culture.

Film fans will have their only favourites that have thrilled, inspired and entertained them throughout various times in their lives and this list is exactly that. I have been watching British films for nearly thirty years now and have seen the likes of Gandhi (1983), The Full Monty (1997) and The Queen (2006) impact world cinema while various others have just tasted success in the UK.

There is no particular formula to a successful British film, although my choices for the ‘Five British Films That You Must See’ do tend to have a distinctively British feel. Whether it is the location, accent, dialect or cultural references – each of my top five British films is a quintessentially British production.

A Clockwork Orange ( 1971 )
Directed by Stanley Kubrick and set in a futuristic London, A Clockwork Orange is based on the novel of the same name by Anthony Burgess. The film received critical acclaim on its release including gaining four nominations for Academy Awards. However, following a string of so-called copycat crimes, Kubrick withdrew the film after receiving several anonymous death threats.

It was only on the film’s re-release in 1999 that the British public were legally able to watch this celluloid masterpiece in almost 27 years. The film appears timeless as the futuristic setting hasn’t aged at all in almost three decades on the shelf. The characters speak in a blend of cockney and Russian that adds additional dimensions to the dystopian reality. Heavily influencing pop-culture from a Blur music video to Bart Simpson’s halloween costume, A Clockwork Orange remains one of the most influential and controversial films of all time.

Trainspotting ( 1996 )
Directed by Danny Boyle, Trainspotting follows the story of Mark Renton and a group of his ‘friends’, most of whom are heroin-addicts. Set in Edinburgh, the story shows explicitly the problems associated with intravenous drug use and far from glorifying it, ensure the audience condemn the characters’ actions.

The role of Renton helped to launch the career of Ewan McGregor as he escapes his parasitic friends and makes a new life for himself heroin-free. The unpleasantness that envelopes the film and its characters make each scene unmissable as Renton continuously attempts to break free and ‘choose life’. As the protagonist succeeds and the closing credits roll you will feel like you’ve just watched a very special film.

Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels ( 1998 )
1998 saw the arrival of the modern British gangster movie with Guy Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. Cool, dirty and classy, the film was a smash-hit when British gangster films were virtually non-existent. The film also introduced ex-footballer Vinnie Jones as an actor as well as Jason Statham. Combining an uber-cool soundtrack with cockney accents and sharp suits and you have the perfect London gangster film.

Based around the theft of drugs and cash, the plot weaves together multiple stories into a climatic shoot-out that results in almost everyone being killed. The film sparked a flurry of interest in Brit-flicks and many other films tried to replicate its success, however, Guy Ritchie came closest when he reused a lot of the cast for a similar film called Snatch. The modern British gangster film was back, 26 years after Michael Caine set the standard in Get Carter.

28 Days Later ( 2002 )
The only true horror film on the list, 28 Days Later broke the mould when it exploded onto the silver screen in 2002. Seemingly influenced by the George A. Romero ‘Dead’ films, the second Danny Boyle film on the list was predominantly shot on digital video. This however was not the major talking point when the film was released, for a new zombie was born. A highly contagious virus has spread throughout the UK and infected the majority of the British population, but in contrast to Romero, Boyle’s zombies are fast, aggressive hunters.

The plot follows Jim as he awakes from a coma to find the streets of London deserted. These dramatic, beautiful scenes where Westminster Bridge, Piccadilly Circus and Oxford Street are completely empty were achieved as police helped temporarily block off areas of London for short intervals. The result is truly breathtaking and adds a haunting solitude to Jim’s plight as he searches for fellow survivors. The film clearly influenced the 2004 remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as the zombies behaviour bears an uncanny resemblance to that of those in 28 Days Later. Zombie films would never be the same again, and I must mention the other Brit-Zombie film ‘Shaun of the Dead’ that again changed the face of modern horror with its comedy twist on the classic zombie movie.

Dead Man’s Shoes ( 2004 )
Possibly my favourite performance by any single actor in any film, Paddy Considine exacts perfect revenge as Richard in Dead Man’s Shoes. Set in the Midlands, as with all of Shane Meadows’ films, Considine returns to his home town after a period serving in the British army. The audience quickly begins to realise that Richard is looking to avenge a group of bullies that have tormented his brother. Considine’s performance is mesmerising as he shifts from psychotic to fraternal in the blink of an eye.

As the story progresses, the film shows various flashbacks to when Richard’s brother Anthony was victimised by a group of local petty criminals. Anthony is played superbly by Toby Hebbell in his breakthrough film role. Richard dispatches of each member of the gang one by one until it is just him and the more passive bully left. He pleads to be killed so he can lay with his brother and after threatening the man’s children suffers a fatal stab-wound to the heart.

This is an amazing film with some of the best performances from some low-profile actors. Shane Meadows has written and directed other films that come extremely close to the Top 5 including A Room For Romeo Brass and more recently This Is England. Meadows is a rising star in British cinema and has the potential to be one of the world’s most prestigious directors.

So that is the Top Five British Films To See Before You Die. Agree or disagree, you must ensure that you watch these films and you won’t ever feel that Hollywood is the only place that good films are made. The British have been making fantastic films for many years and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Why Cult Films Will Never Die

Cult films are unintentionally remembered and beloved dusty cinematic gems that through the years gather a small following which then grows to be a large one, although compared to blockbuster films it’s still a relatively selective gathering of people who adore each particular cult film, a cult film is loved for a much longer time than the popular blockbuster.

Often times a cult film will be unsuccessful upon initial release and then many years later will warrant some attention because of the number of fans who have drawn to it.

And with this, cult actors attached to these films often have a hard time shaking off the popularity of their cult film characters – but these actors will also benefit from having a following that includes websites dedicated to them as if they were old friends.

Cult films often have elements of b-movies and are sometimes not terrific or outstanding in any sense of the word, but the fans are attracted to the ambition and the originality, sort of an: “I can’t believe they even made this movie” situation.

Although some cult films were blockbusters in their initial release and then have grown to have a following, like JAWS or THE GODFATHER movies or the original STAR WARS trilogy. The cult film fanatics (or freaks) help even those big blockbusters stay alive and will give them an even more endearing status.

There are also the b-movies that are critically panned and which have very bad stories and horrible acting, which then are put into the so-bad-it’s-good category. These are the cult films that usually hit the top of the cut film list because they’ve become the red-haired stepchild in the history of cinema.

An actor will have originally been part of one of these films to simply get a paycheck and then to realize many years later that this particular film has gained a bigger hype then, say, something very popular, which then is forgotten about. In other words, cult films have legs.

Campy special effects, bad acting, bad dialog, inept direction and production – these all make for a somehow beloved cult film, because there is one thing that makes these movies stand-out through time – they engage the viewer.

Big popular grandiose modern films can spend over two hundred million on special effects and will look terrific, but sometimes these movies look so perfect that there is really nothing to love – and the legs only last throughout the span in which the film is popular, unlike a cult film which is often discovered time and time again through every ten years or so, gaining younger fans who weren’t even alive during the film’s original release.

The thing about these so-called bad cult films is that they seem real – they’re too outrageous not to be. A screaming bum is often avoided on the streets, but hardly ignored – and his words might even mean more to somebody years later while something “deep” a good friend tells you is forgotten five minutes after they say it.

Cult films are always remembered – at least by those who refuse to forget them.

by Paul Renier, contributor for www.CultFilmFreak.com.
For interviews and behind the scenes info on your favorite cult films, visit: Cult Film Freak

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