Can You Make a Blockbuster Movie on a Shoestring Budget?


Have you ever had the dream of creating your own blockbuster movie? Even if you don’t have the backing of a major film studio or investor, there are plenty of examples showing budget isn’t everything.
To answer the question posed in the title, yes, you can make a blockbuster movie on a shoestring budget.

Rocky, a three-time Oscar winner, including Best Picture and a film that continues to inspire people worldwide, was made with just a $1 million budget. Enter the Dragon, martial arts icon Bruce Lee’s magnum opus was made with $850,000. Cult comedy favorite Napoleon Dynamite didn’t even cost $400,000 in total.

Yet, there’s a level that even goes beyond those examples. Another cult comedy, Clerks, was made with less than $30,000. El Mariachi, Robert Rodriguez’s directorial debut, was only $7,225. Yet if you want to join the ‘shoestring’ list, what do you need to do when producing a low-budget flick? The following tips will give you a greater idea.

Stay realistic

You’re not going to be blowing up bridges or filming in exotic locations. As a result, you have to be realistic with the approach for the entire movie’s concept. You want to stick with a local area for filming. You don’t want scenes with multiple actors. Always film in a location you can access for free. Keep props to a minimum.

Rent a camera

Technology means the next best camera is just around the corner. It’s also going to be incredibly expensive to purchase outright. This is why it makes sense to rent a camera instead of buying.
However, this could be a different story if you decide to go with an affordable SLR camera to provide the picture quality you desire.

Use your crew wisely

Simply put, you cannot have a massive crew for your movie. That’s obvious. Yet you still need to bring in a cameraperson, sound guy, and so on. When doing this, don’t rely on interns either. Even on a shoestring budget, you should pay them at least $100 a day for their work – particularly if they bring their own equipment.

As for your actors, the Ultra-Low Budget Agreement from SAG means you can hire actors for just $100 a day. Also, ask them to wear their own clothes. The budget won’t stretch for a wardrobe master.

Edit it on your own

If you hire a professional editor, this will be one of your biggest expenses – if not the biggest. Instead of going this route, you should take steps to edit the film on your own.

Firstly, there are guides for everything these days. Secondly, editing software is more affordable, powerful, and easier to use. Thirdly, there are crowd-pleasing special effects like film grain and strobe flicker to help give your film that professional polish.

Manage your time and resources

A shoestring budget means you cannot shoot across loads of days. Try and film everything within ten days and don’t go over ten hours with each one. Also, have a small cast, provide food, and keep everyone’s morale up.