5 Great Movies That Were Produced For Less Than $100K

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You need to spend big money to make a good movie, right? After all, “The Avengers” made $600 million and that cost $200 million to make and market. Gone are the days of Costner’s “Waterworld” that had a similar cost and was seen as a tremendously over-budget disaster, not to mention an albatross around Costner’s neck. The average cost of a successful Hollywood movie these days is $100 million. It is still possible to make a successful movie for a fraction of that, but a sub-$100,000 movie is usually writer or director’s debut and can lead to big things.

5 “Primer”

“Primer” is a science fiction time travel drama, written and directed by and starring Shane Carruth. He shot the film for $7,000 in five weeks with a film crew of five people, himself included. The post-production process, however, took two years, but the result netted him the 2004 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

4 “Catfish”

Horror movies are often a staple of micro-budget movies, but in 2010, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman took a different path. “Catfish” was made for $30,000 and chronicles an online relationship of one of their friends with a woman on Facebook. It is shot as a documentary, the authenticity of which is often debated. “Catfish” has now been made into an MTV docudrama that seems to exemplify the term “semi-scripted.”

3 “Paranormal Activity”

“Paranormal Activity,” shot for $15,000, is a supernatural horror movie in the “found footage” vein, inspired by “The Blair Witch Project.” “Paranormal Activity” managed to find more success, with a plan for five movies in the series. Writer-director Oren Peli is only indirectly involved as a producer for the sequels, however.

2 “The Blair Witch Project”

Shot in 1999 for $22,000, “The Blair Witch Project” was a supernatural horror movie that popularized the “found footage” genre that has continued to be used to great effect. Writer-directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez were never able to recreate their success, but their first movie made around $250 million worldwide. “Blair Witch’s” style has since parodied, mocked and copied.

1 “El Mariachi”

“El Mariachi” was a Mexican revenge film intended solely for the Latin straight-to-video market and marked the debut of writer-director Robert Rodriguez, these days a household name. Rodriguez shot “El Mariachi” in 1992 for $7,000, which was $2,000 less than he had budgeted. He went on to make the much better-known sequel, “Desperado,” with Antonio Banderas in the lead role, for $7 million.

Stephan Burn has been writing since 2010, particularly about technology and the creative arts, in a variety of media. He has a diploma in writing from the Open University, a B.Eng. in electronic engineering from the University of Hull and several industry qualifications.

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