Not your father’s no-budget indie

How the Polish Brothers Are Raking It In With a Stealth, No Budget Movie

Call me jaded but I don’t think established Hollywood players leveraging their ‘old media’ success should really be championed as role models for ‘no-budget’ film making and ‘new media’ distribution.

The brothers said that their hotels and some meals were comped; they shot and edited with equipment they already owned; and they don’t consider the few grand worth of meals, taxis and the like to be part of an actual budget. “There was not one dime that came out of our pocket specifically for this movie — besides the food we ate, but we had to eat, anyway,” Michael said.

Hmmm… that sounds like a typical situation for a no-budget indie.  Spend thousands of dollars traveling and just happen to shoot a feature on the same trip.  When did proclaiming your ability to not pay anyone for anything related to getting your film made become such a badge of honor?  Is your time worth nothing?  Is your collaborators’ time worth nothing?

And once the film was finished, the changing face of distribution enabled them to bypass traditional models.




The decision, though, brought with it real uncertainty.

“It just goes up, and then you have to find a way to tell the audience that it’s there,” said Michael. “You get a letter from the cable provider that says, ‘Your movie is now available in 45 million homes.’ That’s it.”

Mark continued, “I said, ‘OK, I’m gonna tweet it.’ Then I called Stana and told her to tweet it – and that’s when it took off.”

Have to find a way to tell your audience?  The female lead of your film has nearly 70,000 followers on Twitter!

So far the film has generated $200,000 and that’s quite a profit margin even if you account for things that the Polish Brothers aren’t accounting for like gear, lodging, food, travel, paying your actors, etc.,.  While that is certainly a nice ROI it isn’t, IMO, representative of a new ‘model for the masses’ at work anymore than when NIN and Radiohead released albums direct via the web a few years ago.  All it means is that wealthy, famous people with installed fan bases will have a pretty easy time self-funding and self-distributing their works compared to the rest of us.

The next time I’m looking for some DIY motivation I’ll revisit Four Eyed Monsters or 10 MPH.

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