Guerrilla filmmaking

Guerrilla filmmaking

Guerrilla filmmaking refers to a form of independent filmmaking characterized by low budgets, skeleton crews, and simple props using whatever is available. Often scenes are shot quickly in real locations without any warning, and without obtaining permission from the owners of the locations.

Guerrilla filmmaking is usually done by independent filmmakers because they don't have the budget to get permits, rent out locations, or build expansive sets. Also studios tend not to use guerrilla filmmaking tactics because they could be sued, fined, or get their reputation hurt.

"Guerrilla filmmaking is driven by passion with whatever means at hand", Yukon Film Commission Manager Mark Hill. []

Guerrilla films

"Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song", directed by Melvin Van Peebles, was funded and distributed outside of the Hollywood system and broke conventions with its visual style, as well as its content.

Spike Lee's "She's Gotta Have It" was a guerrilla film on a budget of $175,000 which made $7,137,502 at the box office. This highly stylized film received much acclaim. It was Spike Lee's first feature length film and inspired Spike Lee to write the book "Spike Lee's Gotta Have It: Inside Guerrilla Filmmaking".

Robert Rodriguez shot the action flick "El Mariachi" in Spanish, inspired by John Woo films. "El Mariachi", which was shot for around $7,000 with money partially raised by volunteering in medical research studies, won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival in 1992. The film, originally intended for the Spanish-language low-budget home-video market, was distributed by Columbia Pictures in the United States. Rodriguez described his experiences making the film in his book "Rebel Without a Crew". The book and film inspired legions of hopeful filmmakers to pick up cameras and make no-budget movies.

"Pi", directed by Darren Aronofsky, was made on a relatively low budget of $60,000. It proved to be a financial success at the box office ($3.2 million gross in the U.S.) despite only a limited release to theaters. Aronofsky raised money for the project by selling $100 shares in the film to family and friends, and was able to pay them all back with a $50 profit per-share when the film was sold to Artisan.

Troma Entertainment is a film production and distribution company founded by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz in 1974. The company produces low budget independent movies, many of which have developed cult followings around the world. Many Troma films are intentionally produced in the Brechtian form which is vastly different from mainstream horror movies. Troma is also known for reusing the same props, actors, and scenes over and over again, sometimes to save money. Lloyd Kaufman has written the books "All I Need to Know about Filmmaking I Learned from the Toxic Avenger" and "Make Your Own Damn Movie!" which outline his philosophy of quick and inexpensive independent film.

The film "Zero Day" could be considered a guerrilla film. The film was inspired by home movies made by the Columbine shooters, and as such is filmed with low budget cameras, and only by the two lead characters. Also, in one of the final scenes (Filmed on September 11th, 2001), the director was so angry about the attacks on the World Trade Center that he went out to a local high school, which had refused to allow filming, and shot a scene for the film anyway.

"Looking For Kitty" is a 2004 written, directed, and starring Edward Burns. The film was shot with a hand held $3,000 digital Panasonic AG-DVX100 camera with a Mini35 adapter. The film's entire budget was $200,000 [ [ Looking For Kitty - DVD] ] [ [ DVDVerdict] ] and was filmed in New York City with a tiny crew and without standard permits. Burns discussed this unusual film-making process in the director's commentary on the DVD.

" Aimee Semple McPherson" (2006) (DVD title "Sister Aimee: The Aimee Semple McPherson Story"), is a feature written, directed and starring Richard Rossi. It was voted one of the top guerrilla films of all time and has generated mostly positive feedback since it's initial release. []

"Silence, ça tue !" (BELGIUM- 2008), is a mockumentary, directed and starring Chris Lamot.Guerrilla filmmaking at it's best! A young director disgusted by the financing system of the movie industry decides to shoot a feature movie made from live scenes without any financial support in order to denounce the difficulties to achieve a cinematographic project in Belgium. The rivalries between the cast members, the excesses and the frustrations will slowly lead him to a surrealistic disaster. [] []


The advent of digital cameras and home computer editing systems such as Final Cut Pro, Avid Xpress and Premiere are a contributing factor to the increase in guerrilla filmmaking. Avid and Final Cut Pro are the two most popular and critically acclaimed software. Avid Express is the industry standard and is run on PCs and Macs. Final Cut Pro is a Mac based program which is growing in popularity as the industry standard. Digital editing is a cheap and easy form of editing that allows the filmmaker to edit anywhere and at a low budget. Many digital effect programs that go along with these editing systems are: Apple's Motion, Adobe's Illustrator, and After Effects.

Many guerrilla filmmakers are now using professional quality digital cameras because of their cheap cost, and the ability to set up shots quickly. Popular digital cameras include the Canon XL-2, Thomson Viper, and Panasonic DVX to name a few. The Canon HV20 is also a popular rebel camera. When combined with a micro SD card it can be used to adjust the shutter speed of the camera to reflect that of a professional film one along with offering a film like 24p frame rate. It is one of the cheapest consumer HD cameras out there that features manual controls which are essential to rebel film making.

Many films have used digital cameras in the place of film cameras such as: "28 Days Later" , "Miami Vice", "Dave Chappelle's Block Party", and "Sin City". One recent film shot on consumer camcorders that has received major attention and awards is "My Date with Drew", directed by Brian Herzlinger.

ee also

*Independent film
*Digital cinematography
*Digital film festivals
*Planning the Low-Budget Film


External links

* [ Spike Lee on guerilla filmmaking]
* [ Cinemacuteo free film school with guerrilla filmmaking techniques]
* [ Guerrilla Filmmaking 101]
* [ Top ten tips for guerilla filmmaking]
* [ How to Become A Guerrilla Filmmaker]
* [ Adventures in Guerrilla Filmmaking, or Angels in the Editing Room]
* [ James Arnett's Guide Book For Guerrilla Filmmakers]
* [ Nuts and Bolts Guerilla filmmaking]

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