Guerrilla Filmmaking

gotta have it

rebel without a crew

Guerrilla filmmaking refers to a form of independent filmmaking characterized by low budgets, skeleton crews, and simple props using whatever is available. Often scenes are shot quickly in real locations without any warning, and without obtaining permission from the owners of the locations.

Guerrilla filmmaking is usually done by independent filmmakers because they don’t have the budget to get permits, rent out locations, or build expensive sets. Larger and more ‘mainstream’ film studios tend to avoid guerrilla filmmaking tactics because of the risk of being sued, fined or having their reputation damaged due to negative PR exposure.

Spike Lee’s ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ was a guerrilla film on a budget of $175,000 which made $7,137,502 at the box office. This highly stylized film received much acclaim. It was Spike Lee’s first feature length film. Robert Rodriguez shot the action film ‘El Mariachi,’ inspired by John Woo films. ‘El Mariachi,’ which was shot for around $7,000 with money partially raised by volunteering in medical research studies, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1992. The film, originally intended for the Spanish-language low-budget home-video market, was distributed by Columbia Pictures in the United States.

‘Pi,’ directed by Darren Aronofsky, was made on a relatively low budget of $60,000. It proved to be a financial success at the box office ($3.2 million gross in the U.S.) despite only a limited release to theaters. Aronofsky raised money for the project by selling $100 shares in the film to family and friends, and was able to pay them all back with a $50 profit per-share when the film was sold to Artisan.

Troma Entertainment is a film production and distribution company founded by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz in 1974. The company produces low budget independent movies, many of which have developed cult followings around the world. Many Troma films are intentionally produced in the Brechtian form (e.g. disconnected montage of scenes, non-representational staging, and the ‘alienation effect’) which is vastly different from mainstream horror movies. Troma is also known for reusing the same props, actors, and scenes over and over again, sometimes to save money. ‘Paranormal Activity’ directed by first time director Oren Peli and filmed in his house with one camera for a budget of just $15,000 most of which he said was spent on ‘a camera and new furniture.’ It went on to make a gross revenue of $153,469,744.

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