Microbudget Movies

Microbudget Movies

33 Episodes

No budget? No problem! Short on cash but flush with inspiration, these resourceful filmmakers prove that passion and creative vision can turn scarcity into opportunity. From the ultimate in B-noir sleaze (DETOUR) to counterculture sensations from the indie underground (SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG, ERASERHEAD) to early masterpieces from celebrated international auteurs like Chantal Akerman (JE TU IL ELLE), David Lynch (ERASERHEAD), Jim Jarmusch (STRANGER THAN PARADISE), Richard Linklater (SLACKER), and Jia Zhangke (XIAO WU), the films in this collection—all made for $150,000 or less—make a little go a long way, refusing to let their shoestring budgets hamper their artistic invention.

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Microbudget Movies
  • Microbudget Movies Teaser

    Episode 1

  • Detour

    Episode 2

    Directed by Edgar G. Ulmer • 1945 • United States
    Starring Tom Neal, Ann Savage

    From Poverty Row came a movie that, perhaps more than any other, epitomizes the dark fatalism at the heart of film noir. As he hitchhikes his way from New York to Los Angeles, a down-on-his-luck nightclub pianist ...

  • Pather Panchali

    Episode 3

    Directed by Satyajit Ray • 1955 • India
    Starring Subir Banerjee, Kanu Banerjee, Karuna Banerjee

    With the release in 1955 of Satyajit Ray’s debut, PATHER PANCHALI, an eloquent and important new cinematic voice made itself heard all over the world. A depiction of rural Bengali life in a style insp...

  • Shadows

    Episode 4

    Directed by John Cassavetes • 1959 • United States
    Starring Lelia Goldoni, Anthony Ray, Hugh Hurd

    John Cassavetes’s directorial debut revolves around a romance in New York City between Lelia (Lelia Goldoni), a light- skinned black woman, and Tony (Anthony Ray), a white man. The relationship is p...

  • Carnival of Souls

    Episode 5

    Directed by Herk Harvey • 1962 • United States
    Starring Candace Hilligoss, Frances Feist, Sidney Berger

    A young woman (Candace Hilligoss) in a small Kansas town survives a drag race accident, then agrees to take a job as a church organist in Salt Lake City. En route, she is haunted by a bizarre ...

  • Chafed Elbows

    Episode 6

    Directed by Robert Downey Sr. • 1966 • United States

    This riot of bad taste was a breakthrough for Robert Downey Sr., thanks to rave notices. Visualized largely in still 35 mm photographs, it follows a shiftless downtown Manhattanite having his “annual November breakdown” as he wanders from on...

  • The Shooting

    Episode 7

    Directed by Monte Hellman • 1966 • United States
    Starring Warren Oates, Millie Perkins, Jack Nicholson

    In this eerie, existential western directed by Monte Hellman and written by Carole Eastman (FIVE EASY PIECES), Warren Oates and Will Hutchins play a bounty hunter and his sidekick who are talke...

  • Night of the Living Dead

    Episode 8

    Directed by George A. Romero • 1968 • United States
    Starring Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman

    Shot outside Pittsburgh on a shoestring budget, by a band of filmmakers determined to make their mark, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, directed by horror master George A. Romero, is a great story of...

  • Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One

    Episode 9

    Directed by William Greaves • 1968 • United States
    Starring William Greaves, Patricia Ree Gilbert, Don Fellows

    In his one-of-a-kind fiction/documentary hybrid SYMBIOPSYCHOTAXIPLASM TAKE ONE, director William Greaves presides over a beleaguered film crew in New York’s Central Park, leaving them t...

  • Multiple Maniacs

    Episode 10

    Directed by John Waters • 1970 • United States

    The gloriously grotesque second feature directed by John Waters is replete with all manner of depravity, from robbery to murder to one of cinema's most memorably blasphemous moments. Made on a shoestring budget in Waters' native Baltimore, with th...

  • Maidstone

    Episode 11

    Directed by Norman Mailer • 1970 • United States

    Over a booze-fueled, increasingly hectic five-day shoot in East Hampton, Norman Mailer and his cast and crew spontaneously unloaded onto film the lurid and loony chronicle of U.S. presidential candidate and filmmaker Norman T. Kingsley debating an...

  • Wanda

    Episode 12

    Directed by Barbara Loden • 1970 • United States
    Starring Barbara Loden, Michael Higgins

    With her first and only feature film—a hard-luck drama she wrote, directed, and starred in—Barbara Loden turned in a groundbreaking work of American independent cinema, bringing to life a kind of characte...

  • The Honeymoon Killers

    Episode 13

    Directed by Leonard Kastle • 1969 • United States

    Martha Beck (Shirley Stoler) is sullen, overweight, and lonely. Desperate for affection, she joins Aunt Carrie's Friendship Club and strikes up a correspondence with Ray Fernandez (Tony Lo Bianco), a charismatic smooth talker who could be the man...

  • Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song

    Episode 14

    Directed by Melvin Van Peebles • 1971 • United States
    Starring Melvin Van Peebles, Simon Chuckster, Hubert Scales

    A landmark of Black and American independent cinema that would send shock waves through the culture, SWEET SWEETBACK’S BAADASSSSS SONG was Melvin Van Peebles’s second feature film, a...

  • Duvidha

    Episode 15

    Directed by Mani Kaul • 1973 • India
    Starring Ravi Menon, Raisa Padamsee, Hardan

    A Rajasthani folktale provides the inspiration for DUVIDHA (“The Dilemma”), a mesmerizing ghost story rendered sublime by director Mani Kaul’s singular synthesis of classical traditions and modernist experimentation...

  • Je tu il elle

    Episode 16

    Directed by Chantal Akerman • 1975 • France

    In her provocative first feature, Chantal Akerman stars as an aimless young woman who leaves self-imposed isolation to embark on a road trip that leads to lonely love affairs with a male truck driver and a former girlfriend. With its famous real-time...

  • Eraserhead

    Episode 17

    Directed by David Lynch • 1977 • United States
    Starring Jack Nance, Charlotte Stewart, Judith Anna Roberts

    David Lynch’s 1977 debut feature, ERASERHEAD, is both a lasting cult sensation and a work of extraordinary craft and beauty. With its mesmerizing black-and-white photography by Frederick El...

  • The Whole Shootin’ Match

    Episode 18

    Directed by Eagle Pennell • 1978 • United States
    Starring Lou Perryman, Sonny Carl Davis, Doris Hargrave

    A key, quietly influential precursor to America’s indie-film boom, Eagle Pennell’s watershed first feature details the tragicomic struggles of two down-and-out friends, Loyd (Lou Perryman) an...

  • Permanent Vacation

    Episode 19

    Directed by Jim Jarmusch • 1980 • United States
    Starring Chris Parker, Sara Driver, John Lurie

    Jim Jarmusch’s first feature displays the first hints of the deadpan, minimalist-cool style that he would refine in his breakthrough STRANGER THAN PARADISE. Young, alienated hipster Aloysius Christophe...

  • Chan Is Missing

    Episode 20

    Directed by Wayne Wang • 1982 • United States
    Starring Wood Moy, Marc Hayashi, Laureen Chew

    Wayne Wang burst on the American indie scene with this revelatory breakthrough feature, the first film by an Asian American director to gain widespread attention. Toying cannily with the conventions of fi...

  • Smithereens

    Episode 21

    Directed by Susan Seidelman • 1982 • United States

    Susan Seidelman established her distinctive vision of New York City with this debut feature, the lo-fi original for her vibrant portraits of women reinventing themselves. After escaping New Jersey, the quintessentially punk Wren (Susan Berman)...

  • Stranger Than Paradise

    Episode 22

    Directed by Jim Jarmusch • 1984 • United States, Germany
    Starring John Lurie, Richard Edson, Eszter Balint

    With this breakout film, Jim Jarmusch established himself as one of the most exciting voices in the burgeoning independent-film scene, a road-movie poet with an affinity for Americana at it...

  • Bless Their Little Hearts

    Episode 23

    Directed by Billy Woodberry • 1984 • United States
    Starring Nate Hardman, Kaycee Moore, Angela Burnett

    Scripted and shot by Charles Burnett, Billy Woodberry’s slice-of-life revelation is a key masterpiece of the LA Rebellion, the black independent-cinema renaissance that emerged from UCLA’s film...

  • Mala Noche

    Episode 24

    Directed by Gus Van Sant • 1985 • United States
    Starring Tim Streeter, Doug Cooeyate, Ray Monge

    With its low budget and lush black-and-white imagery, Gus Van Sant’s debut feature MALA NOCHE heralded an idiosyncratic, provocative new voice in American independent film. Set in Van Sant’s hometown ...