Filming on a Shoestring Budget: 25 Indie Films Made With Under $1 Million

Always Watching blog has a neat article about 25 independent films made on budgets less than $1 million (it's shocking that $1 million is considered cheap in moviemaking, but there it is).

Take, for example, El Mariachi:

Widely considered by many to be the definitive "indie" film, wrriter/director/producer/ cinematographer/editor Robert Rodriguez (of Sin City fame) made this ultra-low-budget production about a traveling mariachi who's mistaken for a murderous criminal in Mexico after raising $9,000 (only $7,225 which was spent) by volunteering for experimental clinical drug testing in Texas.

Rodriguez was able to keep the budget so low by adhering to a very strict expense limit, which basically forced him to not spend money on anything other than film stock, and even then only shooting one or two takes. Not having any real money to spend tested the ambitious filmmaker's abilities to solve problems creatively, leading to the implementation of a wheelchair instead of a dolly, having the actors signal scene numbers/takes with their hands instead of using a slate, using two 200-watt clip-on desk lamps for lighting, and most importantly, not hiring a film crew (he did all of the important work himself, and he used the actors who weren't being filmed to help out on the set).

El Mariachi shouldn't count. I've always maintained this position. It shouldn't be considered in this category because it wasn't really made in the traditional, legal, business-like way of making movies, and not shot in the US. And he was able to make this film BECAUSE it was not shot in the US, to get away from laws and insurances protecting workers. This film should not count.
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Mad Max wasn't made in the US.. as were a lot of the movies on the list... does that mean that they don't count either?? even if you add in what it would have cost in US$ to make mariachi, it still wouldn't have gone over 1 million. i'm certainly sure that many of these movies were made in the 'traditional way'. i would even say that Aguirre would be most suspect. regardless of 'how' the movie was made, the cost still didn't add up.
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El Mariachi and its two sequels go to show that not only can you make profitable films for little money, but also that all you need are good looking men and a lot of violence. You certainly don't need a decipherable plot! That said, I enjoyed all of them.
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