Tag Archives: low

top ten most successful first time producer films

19 May

a list of the most successful films made by first time producer and director teams (based on return of investment):

1. paranormal activity (made for $15,000, grossed $193,770,45).  pretty good going considering it was Oren Peli’s first time directing, writing and producing.

2. tarnation (made for $218, grossed $1,162,014). Jonathan Caouette’s debut film about growing up with a schizophrenic mother.

3. mad max (made for $200,000, grossed $99,750,000).  it was Byron Kennedy’s first time producing, and George Miller’s first time directing.

4. super size me (made for $65,000, grossed $29,529,368).  previous to this, director / producer / writer Morgan Spurlock had only production assisted on films.

5. the blair witch project (made for $600,000, grossed $248,300,000).  arguably the most famous “zero to hero” film of them all, it’s surprising that this comes 5th on the list.  first times all round for producing team Robin Cowie and Gregg Hale, and for director / writer team Daniel Myrick and Eduardo Sánchez

6. night of the living dead (made for $114,000, grossed $30,000,000).  a first film for legend George A. Romero, and for producers Russell Streiner and Karl Hardman.

7. the stewardesses (made for $200,000, grossed $25,000,000). director / writer / producer Al Silliman had no film credits at all before making the stewardesses.

8. napoleon dynamite (made for $400,000, grossed $46,140,956). first director credit for Jerad Hess, who had previously only worked as a camera assistant. similarly, first feature producer credits for Jeremy Coon (he’d produced one short before Napoleon Dynamite), Sean Covel and Chris Wyatt.

9. open water (made for $500,000, grossed $52,100,882). only just made it on the list, because director Chris Kentis and producer Laura Lau had produced and directed grind 6 years before. but it’s practically a first film…

10. the evil dead (made for $375,000, grossed $29,400,000). producer Robert G. Tapert had made a couple of shorts before this, but it was his first feature film credit…same for director Sam Raimi.

it’s interesting to note the average budget of all these films is $246,922. although inflation means that this figure would be higher if these films were made today, perhaps this suggests to first time filmmakers that the closer they can get their budgets to the $400,000 mark, the better, in terms of likelihood of profit vs likelihood of actually getting the film made?

my personal favourite…napolean dynamite. amazing that the producer / director team made such an original, groundbreaking film (whose style of comedy has heavily influenced US comedies since) with no previous film credits.

other people’s favorites? what other films do people consider “successful” first timers, creatively rather than just by return of investment?

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writer, exec producer & casting dir. agreements

12 May

yesterday I added some paperwork templates to my Box in the right hand side toolbar.  they’re agreements for attaching a writer, executive producer and casting director to a production.  also, a generalized copyright clearance form for when you’re perhaps doing a small, non-paid shoot.

so, feel free to download and use ’em.

I have to point out that it’s always better to get a lawyer on board if you’re starting a largeish production, because if your paperwork isn’t solid, there could be huge issues when you get to selling.  however, it’s not always possible on low budget productions, especially in development when you may not have secured finance yet.

before you completely give up hope, email round some law firms explaining your situation, and attaching some information about your company / company directors / production.  some law firms will represent newly formed companies who they feel are up and coming, for a deferred fee (meaning, you’ll need to write their costs into your budget, but they won’t need to be paid them right away).  that’s how I got these agreements written, and why I’d recommend you using them rather than trying to write your own if you can’t find a lawyer you can afford.


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politics: always more compelling when you’re drunk

11 May

I’m writing today’s post while watching Gordon Brown leave 10 Downing Street.

my dad has even cracked open some champagne. he and my mum live in Conservative / Lib Dem country, out in Surrey.

they’re a bit drunk.

Alistair Darling comes on TV: “and you can stop grinning like a Cheshire cat, you white haired monster”, mutters my dad.

“oh, shh, Derm” hiccups my mum.

now Brown’s appeared at his front door. his two kids look so sweet and eager – it gives him a humanity, stood there as a father rather than a prime minister, and I feel terrible that one day they’ll know practically the whole country hated their dad.

my mother shatters this moment of empathy: “I expect Brown and his cronies had a good old party in number 10 last night. what’s the betting they’ve left it just like they’ve left the country: trashed, and with no champagne in the cellar?”

my dad pisses himself laughing at his. until Ed Balls comes onto the screen. his face contorts. “Oho, Ed Balls, you can piss off as well.”


“Well, he’s a bastard. A right pain in the arse”.

I wonder how my parents have seemingly become political maestros overnight: their programming is usually limited to The One Show and New Tricks. it’s probably the brandy they’ve just opened.

my mother is now incensed there’s no police escort for Cameron driving to Downing Street. “you could shoot him dead. a machine gun, tchtchtchtch… it does make you wonder…I mean who’s that guy?” (her voice rises in tipsy panic) “what’s Cameron doing, why’s the car stopped? (the guy next to the car is actually not an assassin, but a photographer. probably to the disappointment of the BBC, whose ratings would have been off the hook had there been a live execution). “it’s worrying” laments my mother, “really worrying”.

“get this scottish sod off my screen” growls my dad, reaching for more cognac.

if only there were a free bar in the house of commons…oh hang on, that’s Endemol’s new reality series, “Toff Quaff Stand-Off”. bringing politics to the masses.

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