Year by year, movie budgets continue to escalate; year by year too, the names of certain producers and directors become synonymous with bloated, over-budget productions. Sometimes it seems as if it’s more about how much you can spend, rather than the quality of what you spend it on.
But what about those film-makers at the other end of the financial spectrum? – those people slaving away in the realm of the micro-budget, for whom overcoming artistic and technical limitations is part of the challenge, and who succeed in making an entire film for around 0.01% of the budget of the most expensive movie ever made?
Join us as we take a look at some of the films that prove you don’t need to spend obscene amounts of money to make a good movie…
…or in certain cases, to make a right stinker…
|SITE||FILM||BUDGET (US dollars)||PREVIEW|
|1000 Misspent Hours and Counting||Frankenstein Stalks||I have no idea, to be honest with you. But if it was more than three figures, I will go out and buy a hat so that I can eat it.||Sure, when I dropped Frankenstein Stalks into the VCR, I figured it would probably blow the sacks of a million wallabies, simply because barely anything decent ever emerges from this lowest stratum of the shot-on-video tar pit. But I was completely unprepared for the fervor with which it sucks, let alone for the abyssal depth of its creator’s contempt for the very concept of cinema.|
|1000 Misspent Hours and Counting||Multiple Maniacs||$5000 (but would have been higher had one of the director’s friends not shoplifted most of the film stock)||In a suburban Baltimore park somewhere (actually Waters’s parents’ expansive front yard), an outlandishly attired carnival barker (the original Dreamland leading man, David Lochary) touts the attractions of Lady Divine’s Cavalcade of Perversions. SEE!— the pornographer and his model, flouting all shame and decency! SEE!— the heroin addict jonesing for his next fix! SEE!—actual queers, kissing like lovers on the lips! The Cavalcade of Perversions has panty-sniffers, armpit-lickers, and puke-eaters! It has crudity, nudity, and lewdity! And as its ultimate attraction, it has Lady Divine herself (Divine, obviously), a person so vile, with proclivities so shocking, that Mr. David is forbidden even to describe what goes on within the confines of her private tent!|
|And You Call Yourself A Scientist!||Paranormal Activity||$15,000||Box-office profit does not necessarily equate to film quality, of course, but at a time when film budgets continue to escalate to almost unimaginable levels, yet each “blockbuster” seems more ephemeral than the last, there’s something peculiarly satisfying about watching a low-low-budget production – essentially, a home movie – take on the majors and beat the pants off them. The success of Paranormal Activity offers two important lessons to the studios, if only they are willing to learn them: firstly, that’s it’s not actually necessary to spend obscene amounts of money in order to make a good film; and secondly—and it really is astonishing how often Hollywood needs to be reminded of this—that there are a lot of people out there who enjoy a good scare.|
|Braineater||Invasion (2005)||$35,000||Also, since the climax of the invasion takes place off-screen — and this isn’t a radio play — the burden of carrying the end of the movie is placed squarely on our lead actress and her ability to emote. That’s a lot to ask of anybody. But when the actress in question (Jenny Dare Paulin) hasn’t even been seen on screen for more than a minute or two, and her character has been presented to us almost entirely through her post-dubbed voice-over, that burden becomes just about impossible to bear.|
|Jabootu’s Bad Movie Dimension|
|The Unknown Movies||Manborg||Approx. $770 (CA$1000)||Manborg‘s filmmakers created the best possible science fiction world anyone could make for such a low budget. I say that because as much as they managed to accomplish, the end results are (no surprise) not without fault. But boy, what they did manage to do. The wardrobe department managed to dress every actor in appropriate clothing, from soldiers in the field battling the armies of Hell to Doctor Scorpius in classic scientist whites. When it comes to the various props showcased, from hover vehicles to weapons, the results are also very impressive. Yes, for the most part they have a crude and clunky feeling to them, but it feels right for the war-ravaged world…|