Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Trailer: UP Original Movie 'My Other Mother' (Lynn Whitfield, Essence Atkins, Jasmine Guy) Debuts 9/21 Trailer: UP Original Movie 'My Other Mother' (Lynn Whitfield, Essence Atkins, Jasmine Guy) Debuts 9/21 Wendy Williams is Crushing the Competition in the Ratings, as Queen Latifah's Show Struggles In Last Place Wendy Williams is Crushing the Competition in the Ratings, as Queen Latifah's Show Struggles In Last Place The Cast of 'A Different World' 20 Years Later - 'Oprah: Where Are They Now?' The Cast of 'A Different World' 20 Years Later - 'Oprah: Where Are They Now?' Sundance Institute Selects 10 Writers for Inaugural Episodic Story Lab Sundance Institute Selects 10 Writers for Inaugural Episodic Story Lab Lamman Rucker, DB Woodside, Billy Dee Williams, Christian Keyes Lead 'Man in 3B' (Based on Carl Weber Bestseller) Lamman Rucker, DB Woodside, Billy Dee Williams, Christian Keyes Lead 'Man in 3B' (Based on Carl Weber Bestseller) Exclusive: Zoë Kravitz, Keith Stanfield, Kimberly Elise, A$AP Rocky Board Rick Famuyiwa's 'Dope' Exclusive: Zoë Kravitz, Keith Stanfield, Kimberly Elise, A$AP Rocky Board Rick Famuyiwa's 'Dope' Tribeca Film Announces 'Nas: Time is Illmatic' One Night Only October 2 National Screenings Tribeca Film Announces 'Nas: Time is Illmatic' One Night Only October 2 National Screenings The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. The Complete ‘Extant’ Series w/Halle Berry Coming Out On Blu-Ray DVD in Dec. 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Premieres on HBO Tonight (Trailer) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) Producer Charles Belk and Actress Daniele Watts Apparently "Fit the Description" (Just Another Day in the Neighborhood) What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? What’s the Big Secret That Got Those ‘No Good Deed’ Screenings Canceled? 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Drumline: A New Beat' (Sequel to the 2002 Film) Gets a Premiere Date + New Trailer (Watch It) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) 'Terror at the Mall,' Documentary on Siege of Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya, Coming to HBO (Trailer) Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' Watch First Trailer for Tyler Perry's New OWN TV Drama 'If Loving You Is Wrong' OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry OWN Announces Cast for New Drama Series 'If Loving You is Wrong' From Tyler Perry Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut Eyeing Leads In Revenge Thriller 'The Perfect Guy' Michael Ealy, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut Eyeing Leads In Revenge Thriller 'The Perfect Guy' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

Making Great Films On The Cheap. Possible, Or Taboo? (Filmmaker & Audience Survey)

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act April 26, 2013 at 12:32PM

Making Great Films On The Cheap. Possible, Or Taboo? (Filmmaker & Audience Survey)
15
Eric Deggans

I've been engaged in an email exchange with a reader who's also a filmmaker currently in pre-production on a no-budget/lo-budget feature film he plans to shoot in the late summer. Our exchange prompted the question in the title of this post.

First, after getting his permission to do so, here's a snip of a longer email he sent me this morning, which I thought was at the heart of the matter: 

... A problem here is that there are a lot of filmmakers who do have these ideas about films not capable of being made for less than certain amounts, like 6 figures. There are those who’ve bought into a system of how a film should be made and for how much that’s dominant right now, and who won’t even consider the possibility that you really can make a film for very little money. You just have to be savvy with your scripting. I’m working on a feature right now and when I tell some people how much I’m going to make it for, they scuff, and don’t want to be any part of it, because in their heads, if it’s not a 6 or 7 figure budget, then it must not be good or worth their time. There’s this mindset that a lot of us have which we need to shake.

The budget for this filmmaker's feature film is around $15,000. 

In the past, I’ve brought up for discussion the idea that making a film doesn’t necessarily have to be a super-expensive endeavor, ultimately hoping to encourage those starry-eyed filmmakers (certainly not all) to rethink their allegiance to Hollywood’s conspicuous spending model.

Partly inspired by the above filmmaker's comments, I’d like to conduct a filmmaker and audience survey: my question to all you filmmakers and audiences reading this is really to respond to what "John" said above. For filmmakers, how cheaply do you think you could make a feature-length film? Of course, it goes without saying that it’ll be a feature film you’re proud of, is technically and creatively sound, made by a skilled team – enough that you’ll enthusiastically submit it to film festivals, and also to distributors, for acquisition consideration; or that you’d even self-distribute. Take a look at all the feature-length scripts you’ve written (or all the ideas you have yet to put on paper) on your hard drive, that you’re hoping you can make into films some day, only if you are able to raise the necessary funds. Now, looking at all of them, how much cash would you need to get any one of them produced? What is the least amount of money you think you’d require to get this hypothetical film made? Is there a figure in your head that you believe is (or should be) an absolute minimum when it comes to feature film budgets, regardless of all other factors? 

And for the audience, does a film's budget (if you know it) affect how you react to it, before you even see it? Do you find yourself dimissing films when you discover how cheaply they were made for, assuming that, because of how cheaply they were made, they must not be very good?

Yes, I know it's not such a black and white matter, and really, you could make a film for as little or as much as you want. And with a good producer, with connections, relationships, resources and smarts, you could eliminate several line items.

And obviously it depends on the script as well.

I can think of several films made for less than $100,000 that went on to do well, relative to budget.

But indulge me here folks… is "John" correct in saying that there is a mindset amongst filmmakers who've, as he states, bought into a system influenced by Hollywood's spending habits, and have come to believe that making a good film means spending lots and lots of money, and the idea of making a film on the cheap is taboo, no matter what? And also, are audiences and even financiers (whether individual wealthy people, or Kickstarter contributors) scuffing at films with no/lo-budgets?



Shadow & ActNewsletter