Let’s define a micro-budget movie as a project that costs less than $20,000 to produce.
This isn’t a magic number. The point is to produce your movie on as small a budget as possible so that you are more likely to recoup your expenses and, eventually, make a profit.
If you make a profit, you can make more movies. See how that works?
Can you make a micro-budget sci-fi film?
I came across an interesting blog post – The 50 Best Sci-Fi Films of the 21st Century Thus Far.
The 50 films chosen as the best are the writer’s opinion, but why don’t we see how many of these movies could have been made on a tiny budget?
49. Signs (M. Night Shyamalan) – The crop circles and alien creature are your only big expenses. It would be possible to make this on a tiny budget.
47. Predestination (Peter and Michael Spierig) – This is a time travel film. You could make a movie very much like this one on a micro-budget.
43. Coherence (James Ward Byrkit) – From looking at the trailer, this looks doable on a tiny budget.
41. The Lobster (Yorgos Lanthimos) – This wouldn’t require any special effects and could be done affordably.
39. The World’s End (Edgar Wright) – You could produce a film similar to this with fewer effects.
38. Vanilla Sky (Cameron Crowe) – You could do a movie very much like Vanilla Sky on a tiny budget (but why would you want to?).
36. The Man From Earth (Richard Schenkman) – This movie could be produced with a tiny budget.
27. Primer (Shane Carruth) – This one was made on a micro-budget right here in Dallas.
19. Donnie Darko (Richard Kelly) – A creative producer could do something similar on a tiny budget.
18. Looper (Rian Johnson) – Another time travel film that can be affordably produced.
17. The Mist (Frank Darabont) – You need a fog machine, a location, and a talented monster maker, but you could produce this for pennies.
16. Her (Spike Jonze) – Watch the trailer and you’ll see this would be easy to produce with a tiny budget.
12. Timecrimes (Nacho Vigalondo) – This is a foreign language time travel film that could be remade for less than 20K.
4. Upstream Color (Shane Carruth) – You could do something similar on a small budget.
14 out of the 50 films could be produced with our theoretical $20,000 budget.
You could probably make some changes to about 10 more films on the list to keep production costs very low.
If my math is correct, almost half of these movies (with some alterations) could be produced with a tiny budget.
So, yes, you CAN make a micro-budget science fiction film.
Do independent science fiction filmmakers have a competitive edge over other filmmakers?
I was listening to a wonderful interview with Linda Nelson of Indie Rights on The Indie Film Academy Podcast (no link/hacked).
Indie Rights is a movie distribution company in Hollywood.
At about the one-hour mark of the show, Linda said something that really got my attention:
“If you are choosing to do a drama, you are competing with 30,000 other films on a site like Amazon. If you choose to do a sci-fi (film), you might only be competing with 1,500 films.”
So, indie filmmakers, what kind of movie are YOU going to make?
In cased you missed it…
Last week, we talked to Kevin Smith. He is very optimistic about the future of independent films. You can listen to his interview right here.
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