The US sci-fi horror film Paranormal Activity was famously made on a budget of $15 000 (R227 279) and made a whopping fives times that figure during its opening weekend in 2007.
A bit closer to home, director Tim Greene raised R1 million through crowdfunding to make his 2004 flick, A Boy Called Twist.
Last year, a pair of South African film makers, Howard James Fyvie and Greg Kriek, went even more shoestring in the budget department – spending R50 000 to make their African zombie road trip movie, Last Ones Out.
Fyvie, who also produced the film, which had its world premier at the Durban International Film Festival, quit his job to make the movie. It turned out to be worth it.
In a notoriously expensive business – the average South African film costs between R10 million and R30 million to make – Fyvie and his co-producer and actor, Kriek, had little hope of pulling it off.
However, Fyvie’s plea for help on YouTube was answered by camera operator Timmy Henny, a friend who offered his services free for 13 days.
Not really enough, as most films are shot over six to 12 weeks, but it was a start.
Next up, they had to find a team that would work long hours for 13 days without pay, because they could only afford to offer their actors food. Unbelievably, the team did.
“Once people discover that the film had been made with the miraculous amount of R50 000, they simply can’t believe it,” says Fyvie, adding that most people burst out laughing when told.
All that free labour paid off. Last Ones Out, famous for being South Africa’s first zombie flick, was selected by the National Film and Video Foundation last year to go to the Cannes Film Festival as part of the South African showcase.
Last Ones Out is the story of four strangers who team up to journey across zombie-infested Africa, trying to stay alive. Word from the critics is that it’s slick and likely to hit the sweet spot with film lovers.
The same team is now working on a new project, this time with a “big budget”, says Fyvie.
“We are currently applying to the KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission for a big-budget action comedy about a film crew that gets lost in the jungle.
“It’s set to be a hilarious mixture of Tropic Thunder and Spinal Tap,” he explains.