paranormal activity low-budget film

By Christopher McKittrick

 

Budget is always an issue for film students, so finding ways to stretch your limited funds on your student films is just as important of a skill as basic camera techniques. It’s not just about finding money to spend—it’s also about spending the money you do have wisely.

 

One way to learn how to effectively manage a low-budget film project is to take a look at how an amateur-turned-professional filmmaker put those skills into practice. Filmmaker Oren Peli may be the only person in film history who can claim that he shot a blockbuster movie—2007’s Paranormal Activity—entirely in his own house for a fraction of what a Hollywood production spends on catering.

 

The resulting film was so effectively made that, although DreamWorks initially hired Peli to remake the film with a larger budget, a successful test screening of the original version proved that remaking the film wasn’t necessary. The final release is largely Peli’s original film with some re-edits and a reshot ending.

 

When released in theatres in 2009, Paranormal Activity grossed nearly $200 million worldwide against a production budget of just $15,000, making it one of the most profitable movies ever released.

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by Ryan Uytdewilligen

 

Even if you don’t see Wonderstruck, you have to admit the film’s trailer alone just might be the most jarring piece of cinema we’ve seen all year.

 

With a blend of colour and black and white, we are immediately introduced to a boy searching for his father, then ZAP! A shaky blur that can only be explained as an electric shock leaves the boy deaf. What follows is the most haunting cover of David Bowie’s Space Oddity—a choir of kids lead the way until Bowie himself takes over to lift the hairs on the back of our necks.

 

A lot of the accompanying images in the trailer cannot be explained but they are beautiful and certainly watchable as the years 1927 and 1977 blur together into some wild fantasy world. This is the latest film from acclaimed auteur director Todd Haynes and this year’s closing film at the Vancouver International Film Festival.

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VIFF Totally Indie Day indie film storyhive

by Ryan Uytdewilligen

 

Arguably the more subtle creative side of the film industry, indie films just aren’t often seen because of distribution problems or simply lack of funding. You beg and plead to raise money that many times just doesn’t follow through. You set out on arduous journeys to find crew members who are willing to work for credit and real functioning locations that are willing to give up their space. Production can be a nightmare and trying to get the film viewed is often worse

 

Luckily, the indie movement in the last few decades has showcased a large percentage of these works through festivals that realize the difficulties of the process and the changing methods of the industry. While you may be scratching your head and wondering how you’re going to bring your little indie opus to life, a good start is attending VIFF’s in depth session series Totally Indie Day.

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