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Top 10 Lowest Budget Films Of All Time

Updated on September 22, 2011
Colin (click the picture to view the trailer)
Colin (click the picture to view the trailer) | Source

1. COLIN (2008)

Colin is a british zombie film created on a budget of $70. Actors were gathered through social media (myspace, Facebook).

Primarily the film is shot from the perspective of the zombie, Colin, but also contains a subplot of a group of humans fighting back against the zombies. Recorded on a panasonic DV camcorder and edited in Adobe Premiere by director Mark Price. The film has been shown at numerous times at film festivals as well as Cannes. Critically reviews have been good.

Primer (click the picture to view the trailer)
Primer (click the picture to view the trailer) | Source

2. PRIMER (2004)

Primer is a sci-fi time travel film created by Shane Carruth for $7000. The film which looks anything but low budget won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance film festival as well as other awards. The film has made almost $500,000 at the box office and continues to sell DVD copies.

Primer is the story of two friends who create a time machine, over time their friendship deteriorates due to paranoia and control over the time machines. Throughout the story the characters us the time machines to go back numerous times encountering themselves and creating a mind bending plot line. This film often may need to be viewed numerous times to fully understand what is happening as different things that are mentioned or seen the first time around are often things that happen later when the characters have gone back in time.

I would give this film an A+ and say that it is much more original and cerebral than most films I've seen that take in 100 million at the box office. It is a must see.

El Mariachi
El Mariachi | Source

3 EL MARIACHI (1992)

El Mariachi is the first film by director Robert Rodriguez for $7000. Filmed in mexico made originally for mexican television the film was picked up and released by Columbia Pictures and made over two million at the box office and was sold on video and also DVD more recently.

The story is that of a mariachi guitarist who being mistaken as a gunslinger also in town is drawn into a faceoff between the hired gun and his nemesis. Throughout the course of the story he kills the nemesis and becomes a gunslinger himself.

Eraserhead | Source


The first significant film from Davis Lynch released in 1977 was made from an American Film Institute grant of $10,000. Lynch worked on the film for 5 years before it was finally released. The film became a cult classic often becoming the film everyone wanted to understand, it's scenes are constantly critiqued and discussed to this day in an attempt to truly form an understanding to the film.

The general plot of the film surrounds a man who has a baby with a woman out of wedlock. The baby is severely deformed and seemingly throughout the film evil. Eventually he is left alone to look after it as the mother abandons him. Scenes are interrupted every so often by songs of a woman who apparently lives in his radiator.

Paranormal Activity
Paranormal Activity | Source


Paranormal is a psychological horror film about a supernatural presence haunting a couples home. The film was created by Oren Peli on a budget of $15,000 the film was aquired by Paramount Pictures and ended up making almost 200 million dollars at the box office becoming one of the most profitable films of all time based on return on the $15,000 investment.

Paranormal activity has spawned two additional movies in the series, a prequel and a sequel.

Zombie Diaries
Zombie Diaries | Source


The Zombie Diaries filmed by Micheal Bartlett on a handheld DV camcorder was created on a budget of just over $10,000. The story like many zombie films primarily surrounds a group of people trying to survive in a zombie infested world. Unlike many hollywood backed zombie films however it was done at an incredibly small fraction of the price.

The film had a limitedd cinema release, has since been released on DVD and has spawned a second film entitled, "World Of The Dead: Zombie Diaries," released in 2010.

Breathing Room
Breathing Room | Source


Created by Gabriel Cowan on a budget of $25,000, winning numerous awards film festivals and making more than $500,000 in the past couple years.

The film is about numerous people abducted and locked in a room. Periodically the lights go out and one of them dies and clues are left behind. They must find out who the killer is before they all die.

Clerks | Source


Clerks is director (and once convenience cashier) Kevin Smith's debut film created on an original budget of $27,575 it went on to make over 3 million at the box office and sold very well on video and more recently DVD as well. Clerks spawned a sequel as well as launching Kevin Smith's career as a director having gone on to direct many films. Smith has garnered a lot of respect from the underground film making community.

The plot of this film centers around two convenience store clerks and their unusual adventures. Very funny dialogue is a mainstay of this and many of Smith's future films. The recurring characters of Jay & Silent Bob begun in this film would eventually get their own film. Silent Bob is played by Smith and never speaks.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Although the two below were created by film companies and not just independent film makers I felt the need to include them as they were made on very low budgets and were very successful.

Fireproof | Source


Made on a budget of $500,000 and starring Kirk Cameron the film went on to make over 33 million at the box office. The film continues to do well with sales on DVD as well.

A christian film it centers around a couple Caleb & Catherine Holt after being married for several years encountering problems and reaching the point of divorce. Quite a few suspenseful scenes are included as Caleb is by day a firefighter and often finding himself in life threatening situations.

Cyborg | Source


Starring Jean Claude Van Damme the film has shot on a budget of $500,000. The film went on the make over 10 million at the box office and was a significant stepping stone in already pretty well known Van Damme's career who would go on to star in many more films.


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    • terrektwo profile imageAUTHOR

      Candle Hour 

      6 years ago from North America

      jenubouka - it is amazing what can be done when filmmakers put their minds to it. A lot of these did well for the amount they had to work with.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow $70 bucks I am surprised they are not getting offers from big wigs so they can save some bucks!

      The movie Primer sounds awesome I will have to check it out for those kinds of movies are my favorite where you have to pay attention although I am not very good at focusing on a heavy plot in one sitting, so it will have to be a purchase.

      I have heard of El Mirachi and did hear it was a pretty good flick. Sorry Paranormal activity's trailer freaked me so bad I had to turn the channel and did not watch the movie.

      Great flicks, wasn't that Blair witch project low budget too? I don't remember if it did well or not, that freaked me out too, yea I am a wimp...

    • terrektwo profile imageAUTHOR

      Candle Hour 

      6 years ago from North America

      hazelwood4 - yes they did well with the limited budget!

    • hazelwood4 profile image


      6 years ago from Owensboro, Kentucky

      Interesting Hub! I remember hearing about the budget on Paranormal Hub activity! Boy, was it a good movie though. The very first Halloween movie was also a low budget film too, but one of my favorites.:)


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