Micro Budget films are thriving. Paul Hertzberg of CinTel Films, chaired the conference and joined with Paul Bales of Asylum, Philippe Caland of Junto Box Films, Jonathan Schwartz of Super Crispy Entertainment and Lloyd Kaufman, of Troma films, as they discussed the issues confronting producers.
Suddenly low budget has become Most know the name of Roger Corman, one of the icons of the micro budget industry, but few know that low budget is more than just horror, sexplotive, and slasher. It's now become popular and Ridley Scott just announced he was doing six low budgets. Whereas $500,000 used to be considered low budget now films, with the new technology, can be made for as low as $100,000 and in some cases, as one recently done by Troma, (Mr. Bricks: The Musical) as low as $5,000! In fact, Paranormal (one) was made for only $15,000.
Fifteen year old The Asylum is another big producer of low budget films. Their special is parody or mockbusters. They plan on making 25 movies in 2012. "Maybe none of them will win the Academy Awards, but they are financially successful. "Our investors get their money back."
Philippe Caland says that he likes the more serious movies but he likes the format and creativity available with the low budget form. They want their films to be trusted and respected, but it's easier to greenlight a movie on a lower budget. Working with Forrest Whittaker, they have funded four films and plan on making another 6-7 next year.
According to Jonathan Schwartz, low budgets can also be meaningful films. "They are art forms. It's a mistake to equate a low budget with a poor quality film. " He recently was able to snag award winning Octavia Spencer for one of his films. "We like to put together great material. Ours are not necessary micro but they are under one million. "Like Crazy" won Sundance last year. If you put actors with good projects, the agents and managers will trust you with their clients." For Like Crazy, they used a simple Cannon 7D . It's a commercial camera but fancy lenses can be obtained for it. "It's the story that has to be good at the end of the day and it has to be a fun experience for those working on the set. It's incredibly important to foster relationships with actors and the agencies."
Dealing with guilds and residuals is an important part of film making and Jonathan always goes SAG because it's important if you want to get good cast, whereas Troma doesn't use unions. "We couldn't do it on a budget that low as the unions get more of the proceeds than you do, then. Everytime we do it, we regret it. "There are ways to reduce the SAG bond and that is by paying actors through escrow, if you have it."
One advantage to making the low budget movie is that you get around the conglomerate and you can make movies from the heart; make them for the fun of making them.
Paul Hertzberg says that it's important to team up with others who have a passion for the movies.
It's risky for the new producer to film and hope you will find a home for it. Pre-sales, when you have a good trailer and good poster art, are the way to go.
Funny man, Lloyd Kaufman, told us how he raised $10,000 on kickstarter as a joke for a Troma film and put it into their new feature "Return to Nuke'm High."
Whereas most filmmakers detest the file sharing and swamping, Troma likes it. "It gets our name out there and that's one of the most valuable things people can do."
Film festivals are often the way for new filmmakers to find distribution but "You have to make sure you're film fits that niche. Don't just go for the big ones like Sundance, Toronto and Cannes, but choose the ones that specialize in your type of film.