No budget film

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

Young directors starting out in filmmaking and several older ones commonly use this method because there are few other options available to them at that point. All the actors and technicians are employed in these films without remuneration. These 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 equipments and software used in production and post-production.


Satyajit Ray's debut film, Pather Panchali (1955),[1] which was produced on a budget of 1.5 lakh (US$2,200)[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 a positive reception. 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 Flaming Creatures.[9] John Waters' 1964 black-and-white film Hag in a Black Leather Jacket reportedly cost $30 to make, though Waters has said that he stole the film stock.[10] 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,[11] 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".[12] 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.[13] In 2012, first-time director Shawn Holmes shot his debut film Memory Lane with non-professional actors and a budget of less than $300.[14] In the same year Goodbye Promise, the first movie ever to be distributed online directly to its audience via a crowdfunding platform.[15] was released. The 2013 sci-fi Hyperfutura by James O'Brien employed found footage married to a live action narrative to create a dystopian future on an inventive no-budget scale.[16]

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. 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. A notable example of this could be found in the work of ASS Studios, a no-budget film studio founded in 2011 by Courtney Fathom Sell and Reverend Jen Miller on the Lower East Side of New York City.[17][18]

No-budget films can receive distribution at film festivals that focus on independent and experimental films,[19] such as the Flicker Film Festival[20] and No Budget Film Festival[21] in Los Angeles, The 8 Fest in Toronto, and the Trasharama A-Go-Go festival in Australia. The Polish brothers distributed their no-budget film For Lovers Only on iTunes and relied on social media to publicize it.[22]

Examples of well-received no-budget films are Kevin Smith's Clerks,[23] Christopher Nolan's Following [24] and Jafar Panahi's Taxi.[25]

See also


  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. Strother, Annie (2011-11-23). "MOMA Pays Homage to Experimental Filmmaker Jack Smith". PBS. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  10. Grow, Kory (2014-09-05). "John Waters Looks Back: 'I Was Worse Than Ed Wood'". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  11. "From No Wave To National Cinema", Lux
  12. Sinagra, Laura, "Grrrl, Interrupted", City Lights, 2004
  13. Liss, Sarah, "The Lollipop Generation", Eye Weekly, 2 Apr, 2008
  14. Courtney, Hannah. "Ferry filmmaker's 'Memory Lane' hits U.S.". Times Leader Online. Retrieved 25 April 2015.
  15. "David Branin & Karen Worden from Film Courage Release Feature 'Goodbye Promise' for $1 on IndieGoGo". No Film School.
  16. Chatelin, Bruno. Cannes Dailies.
  19. Nelms, Ian; Nelms, Eshom (2013-05-29). "Film Festivals: A Firsthand Account From the Front Lines of 21st-Century 'DIY' Distribution". The Wrap. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  20. Corrigan, Mike (2004-09-16). "Fall Arts Film - Flicker Fest". The Pacific Northwest Inlander. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  21. King, Susan (2013-09-25). "No Budget Film Festival, in 4th year, to feature screenings, panels". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  22. Macaulay, Scott (2011-07-13). "Polish Brothers Release Successful No-Budget Movie On iTunes". Filmmaker. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  23. Kelly, Christopher (2014-09-29). "Kevin Smith says 'Clerks III' is finally a go". Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  24. Andrew, Geoff (2002-08-27). "Christopher Nolan". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-11-15.
  25. Sexton, David (2015-02-17). "David Sexton: How to make a great film with no money or professional actors". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 2015-12-03.

External links

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