Film Funding: Great Low-Budget Films

When it comes to movie funding, most people think that in order to have a hit movie, financial backing from one of Hollywood’s gargantuan studios is necessary.  Blockbuster films must have blockbuster budgets, goes the theory.  However, independent film makers or those who wish to use a shoestring budget can make films with limited resources and can produce shows that garner critical acclaim as well as box-office and DVD sales.  A film grant from a government agency can make a world of difference; as can be seen from our list below, a great movie can be made for $7000 which may seem like a paltry sum.  However, to a student or director who is trying to make ends meet, a grant of several thousand dollars can make a dream come true.  Here is a list of great low-budget films.

Open Water  At US$ 500 000, this is the most expensive film on the list.  Released in 2004, this film ended up earning over $55 million and won critics over; described as a minimalist masterpiece, moviegoers found the film almost too realistic.  The film centres around a couple on a scuba diving trip who accidentally get left behind and are at the mercy of encircling sharks.

The Castle  This low-budget Australian film is a favourite among film aficionados everywhere; filmed for only $20,000, it featured Eric Bana in his acting debut.  The quirky comedy about a family being forced to sell their home due to expansion at the local airport has been described as “undeniably Australian and undeniably charming”.

Paranormal Activity  Filmed in 2007, this movie that was made for $15000 ended up being one of the most profitable films of all time, taking in an estimated $193 million at the box office.  What made this film so strong is the fact that it is a well told, old fashioned ghost story.

Supersize Me  One of the first documentaries to attain mainstream success, Supersize Me, a film about the obesity epidemic in the United States, follows Morgan Spurlock as he eats nothing but McDonald’s food for thirty days.  Watching how a fast-food diet affects his thinking, his emotions and health is fascinating.  Production costs were $65,000.

The Blair Witch Project  Another low-budget film from the horror category, The Blair Witch Project, which was released in 1999, was cleverly marketed using internet chat forums.  Although it only cost $60,000 to make, the movie was truly terrifying as a result of good actors and clever directing.  Hand-held cameras also added to the feeling of impending doom.