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Your Favorite No Budget/Amateur Films...


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


Young directors starting out in filmmaking commonly use this method because there are few other options available to them at that point. All the actors and technicians are employed without remuneration. The film is 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 film.


Many experimental films have been made in this no budget manner. In 1960, Ron Rice released The Flower Thief, starring Taylor Mead, to great acclaim. The film was produced for less than $1000.00, using black and white 16mm 50' film cartridges left over from aerial gunnery equipment used during World War II. In the early 1960s, filmmaker Jack Smith used discarded color reversal film stock to film his no budget film classic, featuring Mario Montez, called Flaming Creatures. Some directors' early works, such as John Waters' 1964 black and white film with Mary Vivian Pearce, Hag in a Black Leather Jacket, which cost $30.00 to make, are no budget films. Craig Baldwin's Flick Skin is entirely made from discarded film, or 'found footage' as it is known as, 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, such as Beauty Becomes The Beast starring Lydia Lunch, as did the Cinema of Transgression in the 1980s. Most of the films featured in Miranda July's film anthologies Joanie4Jackie, which were first released in 1996 and are still ongoing, are made with no budget. In 1993, Sarah Jacobson made her first film, I Was a Teenage Serial Killer, with, she says, "one camera, one tape recorder, one mic and, like, four lights".


Filming for no budget films are often done on location 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. Recent films have also been made using digital film cameras and edited using home computer editing programs. The cost of a no budget film is generally that of the film, and the film processing, itself.


No budget films have frequently been screened at Super 8 film festivals which are held around the world, such as the Flicker Film Festival in Los Angeles in the U.S., and Splice This in Toronto, in Canada. In the UK, Exploding Cinema is a group devoted to no budget and experimental film who hold regular screenings. Many No Wave directors screened their films at clubs and bars. Others set up DIY screenings. Some no budget films are transferred to video and DVD and can be obtained at alternative outlets or by mail. In the 2000s, some no budget directors began to show their films on the Internet, either on their own websites or sites devoted to such films.


It is rare that a no budget film manages to receive recognition; only a handful have achieved any level of acclaim, but it is possible. They sometimes arise from subcultures existing outside of the mainstream and so also become important documents of the various movements and scenes that they originated from. While generally ignored by the commercial film sector, they have, on occasion, garnered much recognition in the world of alternative culture and arts.


So... what are your favorite no budget/amateur films???


Message was edited by: Metropolisforever

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I liked El Mariachi quite a lot. The 23 year old college student made a pretty good feature film for just the cost of the film. I saw the original on some channel, then Columbia Pictures added some higher-budget stuff to it and distributed it in theaters. (They might have re-shot the whole film, I can't remember, but I saw the original on TV, I think on the Sundance channel.)






Here is the story behind the original film:



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Easy answer to this topic...the film we made for my high school film study class. It was a good cops and robbers item. Serendipitously, we got the participation of a real city cop and his real cop car. Lights flashing and siren blaring, cop car chased our fake "get away" car down main street of our location shoot for a couple of miles. Fun stuff. I got a round of applause (from our one and only student audience) because I did such a good job of my "getting shot by cop" stunt. When I jumped back after I was shot by fake bullets, I tore my arm on a nail and real blood exited me and was filmed and was included in our film. Black and white movie, but seeing my non-fake blood really got the student audience jazzed.



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Hey, I remembered another good one that TCM sometimes airs. It's titled "It Happened Here", made in England in the 1950s, over a period of several years, as the young film makers tried to scrape up enough money to buy more film to shoot.


It's a "what if" movie..... what if Germany had invaded England during WW II like it invaded France?


It's an amazing film, with Nazis in London! Yikes!


Of course the American troops come in at the end and save England by driving all the Nazis out.




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My favorite goes back to 1953, one of the pioneering independent films:

The Little Fugitive




The story of a little boy who mistakingly believes he killed his brother and runs away to Coney Island, hits close to home. The young protagonist was about my age and it all takes place not too far from where I grew up.

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