Zero Budget Filmmaking

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I want to make a film’ is not the same as ‘I want to dance’ or ‘I want to sing’ or ‘I want to paint’. It costs money. But how much does it cost to make a good film? Is it possible to make a decent film with a minuscule budget? Can we really use the ‘lack of money’ as an excuse to not make a film?

No/zero/nano/micro-budget filmmaking became a personal obsession since I realised that no producer/production house would produce my five existing screenplays, not because they lacked quality, but because they were expensive to make, and I was a newcomer. So I started studying these ‘on the fringe’ films to dissect and analyse their structure, principles and execution. It was clear that all films cant be made this way. But if the screenplay is written for this treatment then it is a possibility. So I wrote a brand new script under 10 days and took a leap of faith with empty pockets. Our film KARMA IS A SHE-WOLF is a result of that exciting exercise.

Here is a list of films which inspired me to go guerrilla and film independent. I kept the cut-off budget for the list extremely low at USD 20,000 or INR 15 lakh. Those who out there want to make a film but cant because of lack of budget, all I have to say is, don’t limit yourself. Watch, learn and put it into practice. Hope this list will help you take that leap of faith.

The Untitled Karthik Krishnan Project (2010) [$600, India]
The Last Broadcast (1998) [$900, USA]
Menschenliebe (2010) [$1000, Germany]
Local Kung Fu (2013) [$1300, India]
Quiet City (2007) [$2500,USA]
Untitled (2011) [$2500, UK]
Jennifer Help Us (2014) [$2500,USA]
Dance Party, USA (2006) [$3500, USA]
Kshay (2012) [$5500, India]
Following (1998) [$6000, UK]
La Casa Muda (2010) [$6000, Uruguay]
El Mariachi (1992) [$7000, USA]
Primer (2004) [$7000, USA]
The Puffy Chair (2005) [$15000, USA]
Paranormal Activity (2007) [$15000, USA]
Gandu (2012) [$15000, unverified, India]
Sulemani Keeda (2013) [$15000, unverified, India]
The Blair Witch Project (1999) [$20000, USA]
Hola Venky (2014) [$20000, USA]
Funny Ha Ha (2002) [Undisclosed, USA]
Lets Talk (2002) [undisclosed, India]
Afterschool (2008) [Undisclosed, USA]
This Is Not A Film (2011) [Undisclosed, Iran]

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