No budget film

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A no-budget film is a film made with very little or no money.

Young directors starting out in filmmaking commonly use this method because there are few other options available to them at that point. All the actors and technicians are employed without remuneration, and the films are largely non-profit. Usually the director works alone on such films, or uses a very minimum "crew" of volunteers to assist him/her on such projects where no money or financing is available, not including the cost of film.


Satyajit Ray's debut film, Pather Panchali (1955),[1] which was produced on a budget of INR1.5 lakh (US$2,500)[2] Along with the other films in Ray's The Apu Trilogy the film is frequently listed among the greatest films of all time.[3][4][5][6] In 1960, Ron Rice released The Flower Thief, starring Taylor Mead, to great acclaim. The film was produced for less than $1000 [7] using black-and-white 16mm 50' film cartridges left over from aerial gunnery equipment used during World War II.[8] In the early 1960s, filmmaker Jack Smith used discarded color-reversal film stock to film his no-budget classic Flaming Creatures. John Waters' 1964 black-and-white film Hag in a Black Leather Jacket allegedly cost $30.00 to make. Craig Baldwin's Flick Skin is entirely made from discarded film, or "found footage", retrieved from a projectionist's booth. The No Wave Cinema movement of the late 1970s, represented by filmmakers such as Vivienne Dick, produced many notable no-budget films shot on Super 8,[9] such as Beauty Becomes The Beast. In 1993, Sarah Jacobson's first film, I Was a Teenage Serial Killer, was made with "one camera, one tape recorder, one mic and, like, four lights".[10] G.B. Jones took 13 years to film, direct and edit on Super 8mm the feature film The Lollipop Generation, which was filmed whenever she could afford to buy a roll of film, and finally released in 2008.[11]

Footage for no-budget films is often shot on location, either with permission, or without permission which is referred to as "guerrilla filmmaking", using sites such as the home of the filmmaker or their friends, in the backyard or local neighborhood. The no-budget documentary, BookWars[12] was shot with borrowed cameras on the streets of New York, and was financed from the sales of used books during shooting. No-budget films have often been made in the past using Super 8 mm film or video, but recent films have taken advantage of low-cost digital cameras and editing programs.

No-budget films have frequently been screened at experimental film festivals which highlight low-budget productions, such as the Flicker Film Festival in Los Angeles, The 8 Fest in Toronto and the Trasharama A-Go-Go festival in Australia. Many directors resort to screening their films at clubs and bars, while others set up DIY screenings. While some of these films are made available on video and DVD, many directors have taken advantage of the internet to show their films either on their own websites or sites devoted to such films.

While generally ignored by the commercial film sector, they have, on occasion, garnered much recognition in the world of alternative culture and arts. It is rare that a no-budget film manages to receive recognition and launch a filmmaker's career; only a handful have achieved any level of high acclaim. Prime examples are Kevin Smith's Clerks and Christopher Nolan's Following.

Other successful no-budget films include The Gamers, The Idiots, The Blair Witch Project, Pi and, more recently, Primer, Trash Humpers, Life! Camera Action... and Another Day Another Life.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Robinson, Andrew (2003), Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye: The Biography of a Master Film-Maker, I. B. Tauris, p. 77, ISBN 1-86064-965-3 
  2. ^ Pradip Biswas (September 16, 2005). "50 years of Pather Panchali". Screen Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-23. 
  3. ^ "The Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll: 1992". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-05-20. 
  4. ^ "Take One: The First Annual Village Voice Film Critics' Poll". The Village Voice. 1999. Archived from the original on 2007-08-26. Retrieved 2006-07-27. 
  5. ^ The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made By THE FILM CRITICS OF THE NEW YORK TIMES, New York Times, 2002.
  6. ^ "All-time 100 Movies". Time (Time Inc). 2005-02-12. Retrieved 2008-05-19. 
  7. ^ Dixon, Wheeler Winston, "Performativity in 1960s Experimental Film", Film Criticism Vol 23, 1998
  8. ^ Dixon, Wheeler Winston, "The Exploding Eye"
  9. ^ "From No Wave To National Cinema", Lux
  10. ^ Sinagra, Laura, "Grrrl, Interrupted", City Lights, 2004
  11. ^ Liss, Sarah, "The Lollipop Generation", Eye Weekly, 2 Apr, 2008
  12. ^

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