In the late '70s and throughout the '80s, a number of outstanding independent filmmakers (including John Sayles, Spike Lee, Jim Jarmusch, Charles Burnett, Wayne Wang, Victor Nuñez, and Gus Van Sant) made first features on miniscule budgets. but relatively few filmmakers followed in their footsteps, hoping instead to find $1-3 million to make their first film. By the early '90s, fewer companies were financing first features and there was little money available. Then everything changed. El Mariachi, Laws Of Gravity and The Living End came out in the same year. Peter Broderick, President of Next Wave Films, wrote a seminal series of articles for FILMMAKER MAGAZINE discussing these films and revealing their budgets. The first article in the series, The ABC's Of No-Budget Filmmaking, inspired a wave of filmmakers to use this new model. Broderick examined this new group of films, including Clerks, Grief, and Clean, Shaven, in his next article, Learning From Low Budgets. Then, Crossing The Line, analyzed shooting a feature on video and transferring to film, focusing on Scott Saunders' The Lost Words.

Five years after the first article appeared, filmmakers around the world are still using them as a reference. The lessons acquired from these pages are as relevent today as they ever were, with new tools allowing the resourseful filmmaker to break through the ever-crumbling barriers to production.

Ultra-Low Budget Production

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