Low Budget Film Guide Part 1

By Christian Bell

Money.  All too many filmmakers let the lack of it hold them back.  But lacking a big budget doesn't have to be a problem.  We've compiled a list of some of the greatest low budget films ever made, with budgets ranging from zero to $500k.

Many of these innovative films have since become classics that launched the careers of some of the finest directors working today.

Ffollowingollowing 1998

Writer/Director - Christopher Nolan


A struggling writer tries to find stories by following random strangers.  Christopher Nolan stored his equipment in the Raindance office during shooting.





Primer 2004

Writer/Director - Shane Carruth


A complex film about time travel that doesn't talk down to it's audience.  Shane Carruth starred, directed, scripted, edited, composed and the list goes on.





el mariachiEl Mariachi 1992

Writer/Director - Robert Roderiguez


A mariachi is mistaken for a notorious Mexican criminal.  Robert Rodriguez's debut is the perfect example of low budget indie filmmaking.




paranormal activity

Paranormal Activity 2007

Writer/Director – Oren Peli


Set entirely in a couples bedroom as they deal with paranormal occurrences each night.  The entire film was shot in Oren Peli's own home.




blair witch projectThe Blair Witch Project 1999

Writer/Directors - Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez


A documentary crew goes in search of the Blair Witch.  The film was a triumph of marketing, managing to convince many film goers that the footage was genuine.



producer's foundation certificate


slackerSlacker 1991

Writer/Director - Richard Linklater


A band of bohemians kill time in Texas whilst musing on several topics.  This was the film that inspired Kevin Smith to make Clerks.




clerksClerks 1994

Writer/Director - Kevin Smith


A day in the life of a convenience store clerk.  Smith pulled out all the stops in financing the film, maxing out several credit cards and selling off his comic book collection.



piPi 1998

Writer/Director - Darron Aronofsky


A mathematician tries to find a pattern in the fluctuations of the stock market.  Aranofsky's debut made the low quality images feel like an artistic choice rather than a necessity.




Texas Chainsaw MassacreThe Texas Chainsaw Massacre 1974

Writer - Tobe Hooper and Kim Henkel
Director - Tobe Hooper


Oft imitated, copied and remade, the original film is a taut triumph of substance over style.  The film was banned in the UK for many years.




eraserheadEraserhead 1977

Writer/Director - David Lynch


This mind boggling debut from Lynch served as a perfect example of what was to come.  Due to funding constraints the film took five years to complete.




 See here for budgets of over $100'000.

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About The Author

christian bellA graduate of the Metropolitan Film School, where he made short films about tortured misunderstood artists, Christian now devotes his time to the Raindance cause in the hope that he can somehow make amends for his crimes against cinema.  He spends all too much of his time watching films no-one has ever heard of and then preaching the word to all who will listen.





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Low Budget Film Guide Part 1