Pop Off: Low budget movies
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 21:10
Movies are one of the, if not the most, difficult forms of art to produce. Between writing, filming, editing and marketing, the process is enough to drive one man, or even an entire crew, insane. And that’s before even worrying about quality. Filmmaking takes a lot of time, talent and most importantly, money. A lot of aspiring filmmakers in college often find themselves bound by their budgets, and stories have to be written to accommodate. If anybody is looking to make a feature with only a few thousand dollars on hand, here are some low budget films you can take some lessons from.
“Clerks:” The definitive shoestring hit that launched the career of Kevin Smith is a handbook for cheap filmmaking. It gets every use out of its single location, it has well disguised actors play multiple roles, and it uses basic cinematography to develop a mood. It’s a film completely powered by its screenplay, which was full of memorable characters and an endless supply of wit. It shows that if you’re a decent comedic writer, you can do a lot with a little.
“Claire’s Knee:” Speaking of screenplays, “Claire’s Knee” contains one of the best ever written. It’s a French film from 1970 about a man who gets the desire to caress the knee of a girl he encounters, but most of the story involves various people discussing different facets of love. Romance is a popular source of drama, and “Claire’s Knee” displays how much depth and engagement can be made by a few characters discussing romance while lounging near a lake. It shows that a good movie doesn’t need to be story driven, rather just subject driven.
“American Movie:” No matter how badly you want to make a movie, there’s a man out there who wants to make one more than you, and his name is Mark Borchardt. “American Movie” is a documentary about Borchardt’s three year struggle to make a short film. It’s a great insight into the filmmaking process and shows all the problems as well as some of the solutions young filmmakers will run into. It displays all the drama that can occur both on and off a set and how far one should follow their passion before it begins to damage their personal life. It’s also as funny and heartwarming as it is informative.
“Be Kind Rewind:” Actually, this movie cost $20 million to make, but it’s about people trying to make not one low budget film, but hundreds. After a video store loses all of their tapes, the staff decides to remake the movies themselves, from “Ghostbusters” to “Indiana Jones.” It’s a spectacle on cheating special effects and making low budget look high budget through sheer creativity. Perfect for anybody looking to add some action or even fantasy to their film.
“The Blair Witch Project:” Yes, I’m aware that it began the found-footage horror film craze which has long overstayed its welcome; but I can’t write a column on this subject without mentioning the most profitable movie ever made. It cost $22,500 and raked in nearly $250 million at the box office. What did it contain? A couple college students with a handheld camcorder walking through a small town and running from unseen monsters in the woods. Mull over that.