A low-budget film is a motion picture shot with little or no funding from a major film studio or private investor. Many Independent films are made on low budgets, but films made on the mainstream circuit with inexperienced or unknown filmmakers can also have low budgets. Many young or first time filmmakers shoot low-budget films to prove their talent before doing bigger productions. Many low-budget films that do not gain some form of attention or acclaim are never released in theatres and are often sent straight to retail because of its lack of marketbility, look, story, or premise. Modern day young filmmakers rely on film festivals for pre promotion. They use this to gain acclaim and attention for their films, which often leads to a limited release in theatres. Some low-budget films gain a cult following and this often leads to a wide release. A financial figure has not been determined which would define low-budget productions. The term "low budget" is relative to a certain country and varies upon genre. For example, a comedy film made for $20 million would be considered a modest budget, whereas an action film or science fiction made for the same amount of money would be considered low budget because of the large amount of money required to produce mainstream films of these genres. The entertainment value and success of low-budget films depends on the genre, premise, story, and financing of the film, as well as the actors and their performances. A low-budget sci fi thriller may perform better at the box office due to the fact that they require less visual effects, is story driven, and cheaper to make overall. Likewise, a low-budget sci fi action film may not perform well due to the fact that these films are more action driven and more expensive to create, something a film with a low budget may not be able to provide in good quality. In many cases, low-budget filmmakers often create story driven or psychological films in all genres. Low-budget films can be either professional productions or amateur. They are either shot using professional or consumer equipment.
Notable low-budget films 
One of the most successful low-budget films was 1999's The Blair Witch Project. It had a budget of around $60,000 but grossed almost $249 million worldwide. It spawned books, a trilogy of video games, and a less-popular sequel. Possibly an even more successful low-budget film was the 1972 film Deep Throat which cost only $22,500 to produce, yet was rumored to have grossed over $600 million, though this figure is often disputed.
Another early example of a very successful low-budget film was the 1975 Bollywood "Curry Western" film Sholay, which cost Rs. 20,000,000 ($400,000) to produce and grossed Rs. 3,000,000,000 ($67 million), making it the highest-grossing film of all time in Indian cinema. Other examples of successful low-budget Asian films include the Chinese films Enter the Dragon (1973) starring Bruce Lee, which had a budget of $850,000 and grossed $90 million worldwide, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), which had a budget of $15 million and grossed $214 million worldwide, making it the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time.
Rocky was shot on a budget of $1 million, and eventually grossed $117.2 million domestically, with a worldwide gross of $225 million. Halloween was produced on a budget of $320,000 and ended up grossing $47 million in the US, with a worldwide gross of $60 million. Napoleon Dynamite cost less than $400,000 to make but its gross revenue was almost $50 million. Films such as Juno, with a budget of $6.5 million and grossing $230 million worldwide, and Slumdog Millionaire, with a budget of $15 million and grossing over $360 million worldwide, have become very successful. Napoleon Dynamite, Juno, and Slumdog Millionaire were supported by Fox Searchlight Pictures, a company that distributes many low-budget films, many of which have performed very well at the worldwide box office. It is common, though, for contemporary low-budget films to be produced without a distributor. In cases such as these, the producers hope to get distribution through successful audience reaction at film festivals. The Swedish horror film Marianne is a contemporary example.
The UK film Monsters is a recent successful example of what was once considered the preserve of the big studio the expensive, block buster special effects movie, to the independent and low-budget sector. The Budget was around $500,000 but it grossed $4,188,738 at the box office.
A considerable number of low-budget films has been forgotten by makers and producers, and through the years their licenses weren’t renewed and fell into public domain, especially the films made in the period between 1923 – 1978 in the United States (films and other artworks fall into public domain if the copyright wasn’t renewed in 28 years from production). An example is a number of films made by Ed Wood or Roger Corman.
In some cases, low-budget films would fail miserably in the box office and they are forgotten in time, only to gain popularity decades later, and might gain a cult following because they are labeled as the worst; the most famous examples are Plan 9 from Outer Space and Manos: The Hands of Fate. Some films might gain a modest-to-no success, but later they are considered classics; the film The Last Man on Earth was the first adaptation of the novel I am Legend, and because of the low budget, the vampires in the film were zombie-like instead of fast and agile like in the novel. It was not a success in its time, but it inspired George A. Romero in his film Night of the Living Dead, and so The Last Man on Earth became a precursor to the zombie films.
Micro budget 
A micro budget film is that which is made on an extremely low budget, sometimes as little as a few thousand dollars. An example of such would be the popular 1992 film El Mariachi, in which the director Robert Rodriguez was unable to afford second takes due to the $7000 budget. Despite this, it was a success both critically and commercially, and started the young director's career.
Some of the most critically acclaimed micro-budget films were by the Bengali film director Satyajit Ray, his most famous being The Apu Trilogy (1955–1959). The first film in the trilogy, Pather Panchali (1955), was produced on a shoestring budget of Rs. 1.5 lakh ($3000) using an amateur cast and crew. The three films are now frequently listed among the greatest films of all time. All his other films that followed also had micro-budgets or low-budgets, with his most expensive films being The Adventures Of Goopy And Bagha (1968) at Rs. 6 lakh ($12,000) and Shatranj Ke Khilari (1977) at Rs. 20 lakh ($40,000).
Another example would be the 1977 cult film Eraserhead, which cost only $10,000 to produce. Director David Lynch had so much trouble securing funds that the film had to be made over a six-year period, whenever Lynch could afford to shoot scenes.
Primer is a 2004 American science fiction film about the accidental invention of time travel. The film was written, directed and produced by Shane Carruth, a former mathematician and engineer, and was completed on a budget of only $7,000.
In the UK, the 2006 film The Zombie Diaries was written, produced and directed by filmmakers Kevin Gates and Michael Bartlett. The film cost £8,100 to be made, and has to date grossed over one million dollars worldwide.
The 2010 comedy film Le Fear was shot on a budget of just £1,900.
The 2012 low budget Roman Epic 476 A.D., about the Fall of the Roman Empire, was written, produced and directed by Ivan Pavletić, and was shot between 2010 and 2012, in and around Colorado, Italy, and Croatia. The film was shot on a budget of around $20,000.
Paranormal Activity, a 2007 horror film written and directed by Oren Peli, was made for $15,000. Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman gave Paranormal Activity an A- rating (A being the highest mark) and called it "frightening...freaky and terrifying" and noted that "Paranormal Activity scrapes away 30 years of encrusted nightmare clichés."
Clerks was written and directed by Kevin Smith for under $27,000 in 1994 and grossed over $3 million in theatres. Clerks launched Smith's career as a director and he has made several considerable higher budget films.
I Am My Own, a Swedish film completed in 2013, was made for $10,000. Writer, director, and producer Johan Bergqvist wrote shot and edited the film with a small crew in two years, with principal photography done in 16 days in the fall of 2011.
See also 
- Hiltzik, Michael (2005-02-24). "Deep Throat Numbers Just Don't Add Up". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 8, 2011.
- "Sholay". International Business Overview Standard. Retrieved 2007-12-06.
- "Sholay adjusted gross". The Times Of India. 2009-01-12. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
- "IMDB: Box office business". Retrieved 2007-08-26.
- "Monsters (2010)". Box Office Mojo. 2010-11-21. Retrieved 2010-11-27.
- "Biography for Robert Rodriguez".
- Robinson, A (2003), Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye: The Biography of a Master Film-Maker, I. B. Tauris, p. 77, ISBN 1-86064-965-3
- Pradip Biswas (September 16, 2005). "50 years of Pather Panchali". Screen Weekly. Retrieved 2009-04-23.
- Robinson, A (2003), Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye: The Biography of a Master Film-Maker, I. B. Tauris, pp. 78–9, ISBN 1-86064-965-3
- "The Sight & Sound Top Ten Poll: 1992". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
- "Take One: The First Annual Village Voice Film Critics' Poll". The Village Voice. 1999. Archived from the original on 2007-08-26. Retrieved 2006-07-27.
- The Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made By the film critics of the New York Times, New York Times, 2002.
- "All-time 100 Movies". Time (Time Inc). 2005-02-12. Retrieved 2008-05-19.
- Mohammed Wajihuddin (September 7, 2004). "The university called Satyajit Ray". Express India. Retrieved 2009-05-01.
- "Shatranj Ke Khilari (The Chess Players)". Satyajit Ray official site. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
- "Brother (Brat)". Russia's biggest box office hit in 1997, Aleksei Balabanov's (Dead Man's Bluff) "Brother" is an American-style gangster flick mixed with a pointed social consciousness.
- Owen Gleiberman (October 23, 2009). "Paranormal Activity". ew.com. Retrieved 30 October 2010.
- Ian Youngs (18 May 2004). "Micro-budget film wows Cannes". BBC News. Retrieved 24 November 2012.
- CNET staff (21 January 2004). "New and Noteworthy: iPod industry standard?: Wired's Vaporware 2003; iMovie movie at Sundance". CNET. Retrieved 24 November 2012.