IronFilm Posted March 22 Share Posted March 22 https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/movies/a43358888/no-budget-movies-era/ Quote An old friend called Tatum after seeing one of his shorts. He wanted to produce a feature, and had thirty grand to invest. Do you two have any ideas? Now, here’s the thing about thirty grand: in the real world, it’ll buy you a dependable car, or cover a year’s rent. But in Hollywood? It gets you a pack of gum. It’s enough to finance one glorious motion-smoothed second of Avatar: The Way of Water, an accounting error on a Marvel movie’s cape budget, a lowball offer for rights to a Led Zeppelin song. In 1996, before inflation made eggs luxury goods, Swingers was made for $250,000 (about $470,000 today), and that was considered a feat of low-budget filmmaking. But the bet Tatum and Thomas were willing to make—and they were playing with house money now, so why not?—was that they could make something with thirty grand that rivals the quality of a multi-million dollar movie. And not, mind you, by neglecting to pay their cast and crew. No. Their producers had access to basic equipment. And having spent years making short films and acting in some bigger budget fare, Tatum and Thomas saw ways to strip away the excesses of moviemaking: trailers, trucks, walkie-talkies, makeup tents, and so forth. “We keep saying [to other filmmakers], 'Why do you think you need all these things to make a movie?'” Thomas says. The film they made is a supernatural buddy comedy called The Civil Dead, and it makes their case convincingly. When I first saw it, through last year’s virtual Slamdance (where it won the Audience Award), it brought to mind revered auteurs like Robert Altman and Albert Brooks. But it also felt like the product of a distinct new voice, a clear reflection of Tatum and Thomas’s offbeat sense of humor, brotherly chemistry, and veritable filmmaking prowess. As for the production value? If I’d stumbled across it on a streaming platform, I probably wouldn’t pick up on it having been made for 100 or 1,000 times less than most other content. Tatum and Thomas, mind you, aren’t the only filmmakers who have pulled off this feat. The Civil Dead is the latest in a wave of microbudget features that are pushing what’s possible with no money. Over the past few years, as the “movies are dead” chorus has grown louder, tiny indies like Emma Seligman’s Shiva Baby, Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, and Kyle Edward Ball’s Skinamarink have shown that a dire industry landscape couldn’t suppress a rising swell of weird, wacky, and creative voices. Chrad 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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