“Primer” is a science fiction time travel drama, written and directed by and starring Shane Carruth. He shot the film for $7,000 in five weeks with a film crew of five people, himself included. The post-production process, however, took two years, but the result netted him the 2004 Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
Horror movies are often a staple of micro-budget movies, but in 2010, Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman took a different path. “Catfish” was made for $30,000 and chronicles an online relationship of one of their friends with a woman on Facebook. It is shot as a documentary, the authenticity of which is often debated. “Catfish” has now been made into an MTV docudrama that seems to exemplify the term “semi-scripted.”
3 “Paranormal Activity”
“Paranormal Activity,” shot for $15,000, is a supernatural horror movie in the “found footage” vein, inspired by “The Blair Witch Project.” “Paranormal Activity” managed to find more success, with a plan for five movies in the series. Writer-director Oren Peli is only indirectly involved as a producer for the sequels, however.
2 “The Blair Witch Project”
Shot in 1999 for $22,000, “The Blair Witch Project” was a supernatural horror movie that popularized the “found footage” genre that has continued to be used to great effect. Writer-directors Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez were never able to recreate their success, but their first movie made around $250 million worldwide. “Blair Witch’s” style has since parodied, mocked and copied.
1 “El Mariachi”
“El Mariachi” was a Mexican revenge film intended solely for the Latin straight-to-video market and marked the debut of writer-director Robert Rodriguez, these days a household name. Rodriguez shot “El Mariachi” in 1992 for $7,000, which was $2,000 less than he had budgeted. He went on to make the much better-known sequel, “Desperado,” with Antonio Banderas in the lead role, for $7 million.