Box Office - Big returns for little budgets

Action Movies, big budget, low budget -

Box Office - Big returns for little budgets

Box Office - Big returns for little budgets

It is all about perceived production value

Getting a budget together to film is the biggest challenge any filmmaker makes, because it is tough to get money out of people. So if you do then you have a responsibility to give them the best chance to get their money back and more. 

Every film is under budget that is just how it is, so get creative and work hard to increase the look of the film so it looks like more money was spent. This is the real secret to making movies and having a career.

Here are a few points than you may want to consider, this list can be endless so keep striving for perfection, even though we all know we will never obtain the perfect film.


Keep your budget down with camera gear. Choose a camera whose shooting format your distributor accepts. It can be finished in any format but the shooting format is important to the distributor and sales agent, so have that discussion early or at least do your research so your shooting format is reaching their minimum requirements.


Use good lighting to compensate for the lack of camera budget, add a lot more light than you think because it gives more digital information for the post production process. They don't have to be professional movie lights but do some research on cutters, gobbos and diffusers, so that you can best use a consumer light to its fullest potential.


Yes try to get the best sound you can on the day but let's assume you don't have the budget for good onset recording. So get the best sound you can and learn how to re voice the dialogue later. You can build the background and effects sounds through libraries online along with music for little to no cost.

File Footage

Picking some great file footage can give your film a big budget look. You have a flight in the movie, so get some flying and airport shots and layer over the sound and music and bam bigger budget. Need to shoot in an exotic location? Why not! Shoot the close ups somewhere local and drop in a few file shots to set the location. It's a very easy process and the look in the final cut will be well worth the fee.

PS - we have file footage that is free for members to use and they can also contribute to the library as well, FILE FOOTAGE.

Set Dressing

If you have a bit of a budget then you should definitely put some of it into the set dressing and locations. A good set and the right lighting adds a big dollar look to a low budget film.


In action movies stuff breaks. So your film better have breakaways. These are single use items like a sugar glass beer bottle or reusable breakaways like a chair that falls apart on impact but can easily be put together and shot again.


Your mates may want to be in your film but they may not be the best choice. There are so many professional actors willing to work for little to no money (pay them what you can). If they don't have paid work on any actor would rather be in another film on deferred fees, if it means that they may get the big break they have been working towards.

Copy other filmmakers

WHAT! No way!

Yes hear me out, sometimes when you are trying new ideas you lose track of the main point of a movie, and that is to tell a story. So instead of trying to make every shot epic and unique, which is great but it also has the greater chance of failure and not being understood. This can end a budding career very fast especially if you lost investors money.

So instead, where you can borrow shots and set ups etc from other filmmakers it will speed up the process and give you confidence that the shots will work together and you will learn. Plus you just can't help but give it your own flair anyway so its all good in the end.

So how much can a low budget film make?

The answer is that if you do it well and it is loved by the public than it can make a lot. Here is the top ten earners for the lowest budget. If you haven't seen these films before then give them a watch and work out why they made it where many other films had failed.

  Release Date Movie Approx. Profit Production Budget RoI
1 Sep 29, 2006 Facing the Giants $38,551,255 $100,000 38,451%
2 Mar 21, 1980 Mad Max $49,675,000 $200,000 24,738%
3 Sep 25, 2009 Paranormal Activity $89,378,905 $450,000 19,762%
4 Feb 26, 1993 El Mariachi $1,013,964 $7,000 14,385%
5 Jul 14, 1999 The Blair Witch Project $83,224,000 $600,000 13,771%
6 Sep 26, 2008 Fireproof $57,497,876 $500,000 11,400%
7 Oct 17, 1978 Halloween $34,675,000 $325,000 10,569%
8 May 7, 2004 Super Size Me $6,427,904 $65,000 9,789%
9 Jul 10, 2015 The Gallows $6,918,631 $100,000 6,819%
10 May 9, 1980 Friday the 13th $27,073,301 $550,000 4,822%

This is all in American dollars, so however that translates for you it has to translate as a great success for all involved in these films and that's what it is all about. Making a movie with some friends and making a good profit for your investors.

Keep on shooting and if you want some help then check out what we do at Action Movie Star TV

See you on set

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