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Old 05-07-2019, 02:47 PM
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Low budget "horror" films. How do they get the budget that low?


So... I meandered down a really dark wikipedia rabbit hole the other day, and finally stopped at a 2001 movie called "August Underground", and I noped on anything after that on the spot.

Not going to link to, or say anything about the plot, but you can look it up on wikipedia if you have a strong stomach.

Wikipedia claims it has an estimated $2000 budget. I have not seen this movie, nor do I ever want to, but it seems to me that you could not in any way realistically depict what's described in that movie for $2000.

Did the film creators edit the article and lie, did it look laughably fake? How'd they do it?
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Old 05-07-2019, 02:52 PM
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Use amateur actores, volunteers, and existing locations. Assuming you own a camera, your only expense is film and developing (in 2001). It's also "found footage," so bad quality in the print (or cheap film) is an advantage. They may even have bought expired film at a discount.
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Last edited by RealityChuck; 05-07-2019 at 02:53 PM.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:00 PM
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Props and wardrobe are often times bought at Walmart or some such, then returned for refund afterwards.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:12 PM
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I have never seen the August Underground movies and hope to keep that streak going, but I understand they are barely movies at all. It's a complete amateur operation with most of the cast being acquaintances of the director, and the locations place he could use for free. IOW, pretty much what RealityChuck said.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:43 PM
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These things get a bit exaggerated if the movie gets picked up. I believe Blair Witch Project claimed to cost $60,000. That was true when it was made, but I think once a studio decided to go with it, they put another $200-$400K into it in order to improve its sound and a few other technical things. Still dirt cheap for a movie that made over $200M at the box office.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:43 PM
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There's a documentary called American Movie where they show a couple of guys making an amateur film. They were filming in their mom's house and anywhere else they could for free. It was a good documentary if you're interested in how those kinds of films get made.
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Old 05-07-2019, 05:49 PM
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Primer is a legitimately good movie with a claimed budget of $7000, and it's believable that it had that budget. Most of the scenes are either outside or lit with florescent lights. None of the actors got paid. It was shot on 16mm film, and apparently so meticulously storyboarded that he shot only twice as much footage as is used in the final cut.

And as Mahaloth mentions, it's usually the initial shooting budget that's as low as it is. If someone actually distributes it, they do put some more into the production.

I realize it's not a horror movie, but it's an example of a movie that's not schlock that has a low budget.

Last edited by iamthewalrus(:3=; 05-07-2019 at 05:50 PM.
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Old 05-08-2019, 12:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by snfaulkner View Post
Props and wardrobe are often times bought at Walmart or some such, then returned for refund afterwards.
Heck, people can do that with the cameras, or use something like lensrentals.com.
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Old 05-08-2019, 09:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Use amateur actores, volunteers, and existing locations. Assuming you own a camera, your only expense is film and developing (in 2001). It's also "found footage," so bad quality in the print (or cheap film) is an advantage. They may even have bought expired film at a discount.
Plus, is it possible that they filming digitally? Then again, it was 2001. How readily available was digital video in 2001?

Hey I'm just spit-balling here.
(I admittedly know nothing about tv/movie production)
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
Primer is a legitimately good movie with a claimed budget of $7000, and it's believable that it had that budget. Most of the scenes are either outside or lit with florescent lights. None of the actors got paid. It was shot on 16mm film, and apparently so meticulously storyboarded that he shot only twice as much footage as is used in the final cut.
If they had just spent another $1000 on developing a plot I could follow, it would have been even better!
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:32 AM
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Plus, is it possible that they filming digitally? Then again, it was 2001. How readily available was digital video in 2001?

Hey I'm just spit-balling here.
(I admittedly know nothing about tv/movie production)
The IMDB does indicate it was shot on video. If they didn't count buying the camera -- they may have owned it already or borrowed it from someone -- that would cut down on expenses.
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Old 05-08-2019, 10:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3= View Post
Primer is a legitimately good movie with a claimed budget of $7000, and it's believable that it had that budget. Most of the scenes are either outside or lit with florescent lights. None of the actors got paid. It was shot on 16mm film, and apparently so meticulously storyboarded that he shot only twice as much footage as is used in the final cut.
I believe the director used unused film from other projects so he had to time the scenes to fit on the film piece he had.

An interesting directoral challenge.
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RealityChuck View Post
Use amateur actores, volunteers, and existing locations. Assuming you own a camera, your only expense is film and developing (in 2001).
I actually acted in just such a film recently. It's science fiction, not horror, and it's a short film (19 minutes), not feature-length. Nevertheless, it's strictly an amateur effort. I and one other actor were the only cast. We were recruited from the local community theater. Apart from getting lunch for free, neither of us were paid. We recorded it on digital video (the cameraman, also a volunteer, already owned the equipment), in one room of a house belonging to a friend of the director. They may have rented the lights, but I'm not sure about that. Costumes (those that didn't consist of just our own clothes) were bought at Walmart. The one special effect we have is a loud noise and a flash of light. I don't really know the budget, but it couldn't be more than $1,000 or so. And that's assuming that they really did rent the lighting equipment.

Why did we make it? Because the director had seen a lot of bad amateur films at various science fiction conventions, and decided, "I can make a better movie than that!"
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Old 05-08-2019, 11:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hermitian View Post
If they had just spent another $1000 on developing a plot I could follow, it would have been even better!
The premise is that time travel is really confusing! It works!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sitnam View Post
I believe the director used unused film from other projects so he had to time the scenes to fit on the film piece he had.

An interesting directoral challenge.
Luckily one that we don't have to deal with any more.

It's got to be a lot easier to shoot a low-budget movie these days when lots of people are carrying really nice video cameras around in their pockets.
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Old 05-08-2019, 01:01 PM
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The Blair Witch project comes to mind. Shot for $60,000 and made $250 million.

I think a good storyline requires very little in the way of special effects or costumes or makeup and such.
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Old 05-08-2019, 09:18 PM
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Robert Rodreguez made his first film on a shoestring budget, and wrote a book about the process. Much of it had to do with using friends and meticulous planning. He raised most of the money by taking part in drug studies.
https://www.amazon.com/Rebel-without...dp/0452271878/
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Old 05-09-2019, 06:25 AM
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The Blumhouse low-budget horror films (like "Paranormal Activity") aren't quite in the ultra-low-budget category, but they still have some interesting production tips. For instance: if you can set your whole movie in one location, like a house, that saves money on sets and transportation. Also: scenes with people just talking are cheap to filim, especially compared to props and special effects, so it's way cheaper to have characters talking about something horrifying that happened instead of actually showing it.

Planet Money did an interesting podcast on Blumhouse films: https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2...g-in-hollywood
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