How Low Budget Films Get Financed

Find out how credit cards play staring roles in some of the biggest low budget film hits from independent film makers.

Low Budgets Don’t Mean Low Profits

Do you know what the Blair Witch Project has in common with a classic car or that foreclosed house? If you said they all had a hard time getting the loans they needed, then you are correct. Yet the Blair Witch Project remains the top grossing low budget film according to IMBd. The Blair Witch Project had essentially no financing, so the production costs were funded by credit cards. Now many homes across the country continue to have nightmares after watching this movie on their credit card funded entertainment center while seated comfortably on their financed leather sofa.

Low Budget Movie Success

Of course, this particular movie was a box office success with an initial budget of only $60,000.00. What did that low budget produce? Currently, Blair Witch Project has grossed over $140 million. To say this is a blockbuster is an understatement.

How Did Success Happen?

For starters, the film students who produced the movie had faith in their venture. When they decided to make the necessary financial commitment through personal finances and credit, it didn’t matter that the large studios would not help finance the project. But their commitment made the project a success. More and more low budget movies are being made this way.

However, not all credit cards financed low budget films fare as well as Blair Witch. In fact, many low budget movies are not even considered “B” movies. Yet low budgets often prove their director’s faith in the project. Check out the graphic below for a list of movies who owe all or part of their funding to the magic plastic of credit card debt.

A breakdown of how low budget films find the money to come together

Low Budget – Hollywood Version

For many people, “low budget” might not seem like the appropriate term for a $60,000 commitment. However, in the film industry, this budget is minimal at best. Movies with average budges require millions of dollars. Large budget movies can cost millions of dollars to make, with the cost of one A-list celebrity topping $20M in their salary alone. So, spending a paltry 10-20K on credit card debt to finance a flick truly represents a shoestring budget.

Some Movies Make It

Perhaps no one believed in their project more than director Robert Rodriguez. He believed so much in his movie, El Mariachi that he not only maxed out several credit cards, but put his body on the line as well. A significant portion of the $7,000.00 in production costs was garnered from the proceeds of medical testing. Yet with a gross of over $2 million, it was worth it. And who would have thought that a movie about the underpaid and underappreciated convenience store workers would gross $3 million? But the maker of Clerks did. His type of debt is not the average kind. The average Joe is not financing a low budget film, which can potentially turn from money pit into money tree. And making poor choices can ruin your credit, so if you are planning to make a movie, it’s important to understand the risks.

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