An indie film can often be overlooked due to it’s small budget, lack of big name actors and quite often a limitation when it comes to special effects but most film fans know that’s no reason why indie films should go unnoticed.
Watching a great indie film feels like being part of a secret club, the viewer is able to find a deeper connection with the storyline and enjoy watching the creative freedom that straight from Hollywood films can’t always provide. It’s also nice finding a gem of a film you know not everyone and their mother have seen.
We can’t forget that some of the most talented directors and writers don’t always have the biggest budgets but that doesn’t make their ideas any less great. A smaller budget may mean more cut backs on production techniques that major movie studio’s have at their finger tips but that only means indie directors need to rely more on their creativity and strength of their writing. The result? A film that has had heart and soul poured into it, crafted with passion and the hard work of every cast and crew member involved.
It’s a creative vision that has to be shaped and nurtured to artistic greatness and it shows in the end result.
It’s these qualities in a great indie film that drew me to Dostoyevsky Reimagined: The Making of Notes from the New World and my personal indie film favorites of all time, nearly all of which have found huge success and seen a massive box office profit despite their shoe string budget.
The Evil Dead ( 1981)
Box office: $2.6 million
One of my favourite movies of all time, this horror masterpiece sees five vacationing college friends head of to a remote cabin only to unwittingly summon ancient demons hell bent on the possessing the living.
This cult classic was hugely successful and went on to franchise two other films, a 2013 remake, video games and more recently a TV series
The Evil Dead was made with a relatively small budget of $350,000 raised mainly from donations of those interested in the project and family and friends of director Sam Raimi.
Bruce Campbell who played the star of the movie, Ash was a friend of Raimi’s and also worked on the production to cut back costs.
Budget: Unknown low budget
Box office: Unknown
Perhaps one of the more unknown entries on this list, Circle lands a spot as one of my favorite indie films as it delves into the concept of human consciousness and morality. This film isn’t just entertaining it’s extremely thought provoking and the concept stays with you days later.
The plot focuses on a group of 50 strangers that wake up around a circle with no recollection of how they got there. When the group start to be randomly executed they are forced to choose which one of them deserves to live.
Circle is provides some excellent dialogue and the storyline is based heavily on humanity which is extremely effective.
The Circle was filmed in just over 10 days.
Paranormal Activity ( 2007)
Paranormal Activity is genius because of it’s simplicity and is easily the most successful indie film with the smallest budget. The storyline isn’t too complex and is focused solely on young couple Micha and Katie who set up a video camera in an attempt to record paranormal activity after Katie claims she’s been haunted by an evil presence since she was a child.
It watches like a home movie, a very scary home movie that seemed all too real and that’s what made this film so spine chilling.
This film was such a hit that it went on to spawn five other successful movies.
Paranormal Activity was made on a very small budget of $15,000, had very few actors and was filmed using a video camera but that made on difference to the success of this film when it hit box office.
Supersize Me ( 2004)
Box office: over 20 million
Supersize Me is a documentary style film that follows director Morgan Spurlock as he turns himself into a human guinea pig and eats only McDonald’s for every meal spanning over 30 days to study the effects it has on his body.
A leading social experiment project, Spurlock’s indie film may caused some controversy but it also provided the nation with an eye opening documentary that didn’t fail to entertain.
When Supersize Me premiered in Australia it had the highest opening gross ever for a documentary.
Spurlock filmed over 250 hours worth of footage but only 100 minutes made it into the film.
Night of the Living Dead (1968)
Box office: 30 million
Seen as possibly the best low budget indie film of all time, Night of the Living Dead is now a cult classic and easily one of the most influential indie films, leading the way for the future success and popularity of zombie flicks in the horror genre.
The film follows a group of characters that seek refuge in an old farmhouse in an attempt to survive an uprising of the flesh eating undead.
It was the first of it’s kind, Night of The Living Dead shocked, entertained and inspired despite it’s small budget and mediocre special effects.
Director George Romero’s small budget meant that props and special effects were limited and had to be kept simple. Romero used many techniques to keep costs down such as using chocolate syrup as blood, costumes from good will and entrails to mimic human flesh were donated by a cast member that owned a chain of butcher shops.
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