Or more specifically, the extreme danger that such a thing will present to your wallet.
Films that are made for less than a few million are generally regarded to be ‘low budget’. Films made for mere thousands are ‘micro-budget’ and the kind of films that I make are basically ‘No-budget’.
As far as I know, the thresholds aren’t specifically defined, but you generally know where you stand when you ask yourself where your bank balance will be after you finish:
1) PROFIT! Your bank balance has increased due to a few sales, perhaps the odd DVD and merch, and maybe even a weird little cult following if you pitch it right. Well I guess yours must have been low-budget.
2) MMMEHHAMMMM JUST ABOUT BROKE EVEN. You’ve not really gained anything financially from the experience, but you got your film made. It was hard work, you fought for your finance but you got there and just about broke even. This must have been micro-budget.
3) YOU’RE NOW LIVING ON CORNFLAKES. And you spend evenings in the dark to avoid unnecessary use of electricity. Though, oddly enough, it was much easier to pull together because you weren’t the only one not getting paid. Your bank balance has taken a beating perhaps, but you did it for the love of film and even though it cost what you reckon is a fortune, it was a no-budget production.
And all of these examples are for film budgets that would fit neatly in the back pocket of mainstream cinema releases. Feel insignificant yet?
Well don’t. The beauty of creativity in these examples is that it works in reverse order to finance. The more money you are given, the more restricted your vision may become due to the limitations that will be put in place by people who foot the bill and want to avoid risk.
I might go severely out of pocket on every film I make, but the distinct advantage is that my film is my own 100%. And to me, that’s worth all the money in the world.