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 filming permits.

Guerrilla filmmaking is usually done by independent filmmakers because they don't have the budget or time to obtain permits, rent out locations, or build expensive sets. Larger and more "mainstream" film studios tend to avoid guerrilla filmmaking tactics because of the risk of being sued, fined or having their reputation damaged due to negative PR publicity.

According to Yukon Film Commission Manager Mark Hill, "Guerrilla filmmaking is driven by passion with whatever means at hand".[1]

Guerrilla films

Janet Maslin of The New York Times characterized Ed Wood as a guerrilla filmmaker. As depicted in the biopic Ed Wood, Wood stole a fake octopus for one of the scenes in his low budget films.[2]

Film critic Roger Ebert described Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, directed by Melvin Van Peebles, as "a textbook on guerrilla filmmaking" in his review of Baadasssss!, a biopic about the making of Sweet Sweetback.[3] Ben Sisario of The New York Times called Van Peebles "a hero of guerrilla filmmaking" who has suffered for his uncompromising vision.[4]

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.[5] It was Spike Lee's first feature-length film and inspired him to write the book Spike Lee's Gotta Have It: Inside Guerrilla Filmmaking.[6]

New Queer Cinema director Gregg Araki shot his first two films, Three Bewildered People in the Night (1987) and The Long Weekend (O' Despair) (1989) using a spring-wound Bolex camera and scrap film stock, on a budget of $5,000 each.[7]

Robert Rodriguez shot the action film El Mariachi in Spanish. 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 would inspire other filmmakers to pick up cameras and make no-budget movies.[8]

Pi, directed by Darren Aronofsky,[9] was made on a budget of $68,000. It proved to be a financial success at the box office ($4.6 million gross worldwide).[10] 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 films, many of which have developed cult followings. Kaufman has been outspoken about their use of guerrilla marketing and tolerance of piracy, and he 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.[11]

Paranormal Activity, directed by first time director Oren Peli, was shot for approximately $10,000. Michael Cieply of The New York Times described the production and release as "guerrilla style". After being well received at film festivals, Paramount put the film on a tour where fans could request a screening.[12]

Escape From Tomorrow, made for $650,000, was "shot in a guerrilla-style manner at Walt Disney World and Disneyland without the permission of the parks," according to Jason Guerrasio of Indiewire. The film was originally expected to not be released due to fears of a lawsuit from Disney, but it was released on video on demand in October 2013.[13]

"Clark: A Gonzomentary' was a 2012 gonzo journalism-styled mockumentary about an amateur filmmaker documenting a Philadelphian eccentric artist and his creative process. The guerrilla-style techniques implemented were used as part of the story itself, to represent the amateur production within the story. It was shot with a budget of less than $3,000 with a Canon XL2 and a Panasonic AG-DVX100. The director opted out of using a steadicam purposefully to achieve more shakiness. It was awarded Outstanding Lead Actor in a comedy or mockumentary by The 2013 LA Web Series Festival and deemed "a gonzomentary truly realized" by Mark Bell of Film Threat.[14]

"Midnight Rider", a biopic of Gregg Allman, attempted to use guerilla filmmaking methods to illegally film a sequence on a railroad bridge in active use. A train coming shattered a metal bed placed on the tracks, killing camera operator Sarah Jones. Director Randall Miller was sentenced to two years imprisonment for involuntary manslaughter while producer Jay Sedrish received a suspended sentence of ten years' probation. Both were prohibited from working in any directorial or safety-related role for a decade.

Super Demetrios (2011), the first Greek superhero film, made on a budget of €2,000, won the audience award at the 52nd Thessaloniki International Film Festival with the highest number of votes in the history of the festival and became an instant cult classic,[15] "proving that Greek guerrilla cinema can survive without state funding injections" according to Giannis Zoumboulakis of To Vima newspaper.[16]


The advent of digital cameras and home computer editing systems such as Final Cut Pro, Avid Media Composer and Premiere Pro are a contributing factor to the increase in guerrilla filmmaking. Digital editing is a cheap and easy form of editing that allows the filmmaker to edit anywhere and at a low budget.

Many guerrilla filmmakers are now using professional quality digital cameras because of their cheap cost, and the ability to set up shots quickly.

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 15 January 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2006.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ Maslin, Janet (23 September 1994). "FILM FESTIVAL REVIEW; Ode to a Director Who Dared to Be Dreadful". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  3. ^ Ebert, Roger (11 June 2004). "Baadasssss!". Archived from the original on 21 February 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  4. ^ Sisario, Ben (20 January 2010). "He's Got It Bad, or 'Baad,' for His Art". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 5 May 2018. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  5. ^ Henderson, Stuart (13 January 2008). "She's Gotta Have It". PopMatters. Archived from the original on 3 December 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  6. ^ Martin, Sharon Stockard (13 December 1987). "'PLEASE BABY. PLEASE BABY. PLEASE ...'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 29 November 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  7. ^ Levy, Emanuel. Cinema of Outsiders: The Rise of American Independent Film. New York University Press. p. 467. ISBN 0-8147-5124-5.
  8. ^ Broderick, Peter. "THE ABC'S OF NO-BUDGET FILMMAKING". Filmmaker (Winter 1993). Archived from the original on 8 October 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  9. ^ "Production Update". Filmmaker (Winter 1997). Archived from the original on 20 June 2017. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  10. ^ "Pi". The Numbers. Archived from the original on 5 December 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  11. ^ Takahashi (8 April 2011). "Steal this movie: cult film maker lets digital pirates share his content". VentureBeat. Archived from the original on 29 October 2014. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  12. ^ Cieply, Michael (20 September 2009). "Thriller on Tour Lets Fans Decide on the Next Stop". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  13. ^ Guerrasio, Jason (9 October 2013). "How the Director of 'Escape From Tomorrow' Made a Crazy Guerrilla Movie In Disney World – And Got Away With It". Indiewire. Archived from the original on 10 January 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2014.
  14. ^ "Reviews". Archived from the original on 2 January 2013. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  15. ^ Kranakis, Manolis (18 April 2012). "Ο "Σούπερ Δημήτριος" θα σώσει την Ελλάδα από την κρίση!" [Super Demetrios will save Greece from (debt) crisis!]. Flix (in Greek). Athens, Greece. Archived from the original on 15 August 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  16. ^ Zoumboulakis, Giannis (20 November 2011). "Η γοητεία του αντάρτη" [The charm of guerilla (filmmaker)]. To Vima (in Greek). Athens. Archived from the original on 6 April 2012. Retrieved 17 August 2016.

External links

1888 (film)

1888 is a 2018 Indian thriller film shot using Guerrilla filmmaking technique. It's a micro-budget, independent Kannada film with Demonetization as the backdrop. About 50% of the film is shot inside a car. Neethu Shetty a well known Kannada actress plays an important character along with Prathap Kumar, Manju Raj and Vikram Kumar. The movie is directed by debutante Sourabh Shukla. Pradeep is the Director of Photography and Girish Hothur is the Music Composer.

Considering the subject and Neethu's role in the movie, there are rumours that she could be essaying the role of Tamil Nadu's late CM, Jayalalithaa.

Carnival of Souls

Carnival of Souls is a 1962 American independent horror film written, produced, and directed by Herk Harvey, and starring Candace Hilligoss. Its plot follows Mary Henry, a young woman whose life is disturbed after a car accident. She relocates to a new city, where she finds herself unable to assimilate with the locals, and becomes drawn to the pavilion of an abandoned carnival; director Harvey also appears in the film as a ghoulish stranger who stalks her throughout.Filmed in Lawrence, Kansas and Salt Lake City, Carnival of Souls was shot on a budget of $33,000, and Harvey employed various guerrilla filmmaking techniques to finish the production. It was Harvey's only feature film, and did not gain widespread attention when originally released as a double feature with The Devil's Messenger in 1962.

Set to an organ score by Gene Moore, the film has been contemporarily noted by critics and film scholars for its cinematography and foreboding atmosphere. The film has a large cult following and is occasionally screened at film and Halloween festivals, and has been cited as a wide-ranging influence on numerous filmmakers, including David Lynch and George A. Romero.

Chris Grieder

Chris Grieder (born August 4, 1989) is an American music video director, independent filmmaker, musician, and photographer from Orlando, Florida, currently living in Los Angeles. Grieder has directed music videos internationally for artists such as Mutemath, Luna Halo, Modest Mouse, There For Tomorrow, Avery, Stefanie Scott, Transmit Now, and UK Brit-pop band Wall Street Riots. After graduating high school, Grieder became adept in guerrilla filmmaking and working independently. He is currently working on the debut studio album for his indie rock music project "Thank You and Goodbye," and has shot a music video for one of his demo songs, "Dead Cities in Your Heart." Grieder plans on re-recording the track for the full-length album.

Dan Rahmel

Dan Rahmel (born 1972) is an American author best known for his work relating to Visual Basic and database servers. Rahmel first began work as a writer for various magazines including DBMS, American Programmer, and Internet Advisor. He co-authored his first book Interfacing to the PowerPC Microprocessor in 1995 and began writing steadily about the programming and database development fields.

In 2002, he began working in Hollywood film production and gained experience in diverse positions including gaffer, property master, production designer, and lighting technician. He has written a number of articles about his Hollywood experience and in 2004 publisher Focal Press released his book Nuts and Bolts Filmmaking that describes guerrilla filmmaking techniques.

His books have been translated into various languages including Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. In 2006, Focal Press issued a special edition of Nuts and Bolts Filmmaking for release in India.

Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani? (film)

Eli Eli Lama Sabachthani? (English Title: The Forsaken) is a multilingual film written and directed by Jiju Antony. It is the second feature film produced by Kazhcha Chalachithra Vedi in association with Niv Art Movies through crowd funding. The film is totally shot in the city of Mumbai using Guerrilla filmmaking techniques. The title is taken from Matthew 27:46.

Escape from Tomorrow

Escape from Tomorrow is a 2013 American independent science fantasy horror film written and directed by Randy Moore in his directorial debut. It tells the story of an unemployed father having increasingly bizarre experiences and disturbing visions on the last day of a family vacation at the Walt Disney World Resort. It premiered in January at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and was later a personal selection of Roger Ebert, shown at his 15th annual film festival in Champaign, Illinois. The film was a 2012 official selection of the PollyGrind Film Festival, but at the time filmmakers were still working on some legal issues and asked that it not be screened.The film drew attention due to the fact that Moore had shot most of it on location at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland without permission from The Walt Disney Company, owner and operator of both parks. Due to Disney's reputation of being protective of its intellectual property, the cast and crew used guerrilla filmmaking techniques to avoid attracting attention, such as keeping their scripts on their iPhones and shooting on handheld video cameras similar to those used by park visitors. After principal photography was complete, Moore was so determined to keep the project a secret from Disney that he edited it in South Korea. Sundance similarly declined to discuss the film in detail before it was shown. It was called "the ultimate guerrilla film". Rather than suppressing the film, Disney chose to ignore it.It has been compared to the work of Roman Polanski and David Lynch. However, many who saw it expressed strong doubts that the film would be shown to a wider audience due to the legal issues involved and the negative depiction of the parks. At the time of its premiere, Disney stated that it was "aware" of the film; since then the online supplement to Disney A to Z: The Official Encyclopedia has included an entry for the film.Escape from Tomorrow was released simultaneously to theaters and video on-demand on October 11, 2013, through PDA, a Cinetic Media company.

Film treatment

A film treatment (or simply treatment) is a piece of prose, typically the step between scene cards (index cards) and the first draft of a screenplay for a motion picture, television program, or radio play. It is generally longer and more detailed than an outline (or one-page synopsis), and it may include details of directorial style that an outline omits. Treatments read like a short story, but are told in the present tense and describe events as they happen. A treatment may also be created in the process of adapting a novel, play, or other pre-existing work into a screenplay.

Leeds Independent Film Festival

The No Gloss Film Festival (also known as the Leeds Independent Film Festival) is a UK public film event held in October at several venues around Leeds, West Yorkshire. The festival (sometimes referred to as NGFF) screens more than 100 shorts, features, documentaries and animations from the UK and other countries. It has a particular focus on Guerrilla filmmaking, a type of micro-budget independent film-making, championing "Do It Yourself" (DIY) unconventional cinema to increase accessibility to independent, rarely screened, self-made films.The NGFF programme also typically includes film-maker Q&As, film discussion panels and live workshops.

Loanshark (film)

Loanshark is a 1999 black-and-white American crime film written and directed by Jay Jennings. The film is a notable forerunner in the digital filmmaking movement.

My Date with Drew

My Date with Drew is a 2004 independent documentary film starring and directed by Brian Herzlinger. The film heavily utilizes guerrilla filmmaking and received numerous awards for this.

No-budget film

A no-budget film is a film made with very little or no money.

Young directors starting out in filmmaking and several older ones commonly use this method because there are few other options available to them at that point. All the actors and technicians are employed in these films without remuneration. These films are largely non-profit. Usually the director works alone on such films, or uses a very small "crew" of volunteers to assist him/her on such projects, where no money or financing is available, not including the cost of equipments and software used in production and post-production.

No Wave Cinema

No wave cinema was an underground filmmaking movement that flourished on the Lower East Side of New York City from about 1976 to 1985. Sponsored by and associated with the artists group Collaborative Projects or "Collab", no wave cinema was a stripped-down style of guerrilla filmmaking that emphasized mood and texture above other concerns -- similar to the parallel no wave music movement.

Opera film

An opera film is a recording of an opera on film.


Pre-production is the process of planning some of the elements involved in a film, play, or other performance. There are three parts in a production: pre-production, production, and post-production. Pre-production ends when the planning ends and the content starts being produced.

Principal photography

Principal photography is the phase of film production in which the bulk of the movie is filmed, with actors on set and cameras rolling, as distinct from pre-production and post-production.Principal photography is typically the most expensive phase of film production, due to actor, director, and set crew salaries, as well as the costs of certain shots, props, and on-set special effects. Its start generally marks a point of no return for the financiers, because until it is complete, there is unlikely to be enough material filmed to release a final product needed to recoup costs. While it is common for a film to lose its greenlight status during pre-production – for example, because an important cast member drops out or unexpectedly dies, or some kind of scandal engulfs the studio or an actor – it is extremely uncommon for financing to be withdrawn once principal photography has begun.Feature films usually have insurance in place by the time principal photography begins. The death of a bankable star before completing all planned takes, or the loss of sets or footage can render a film impossible to complete as planned. For example, sets are notoriously flammable. Furthermore, professional-quality movie cameras are normally rented as needed, and most camera houses will not allow rentals of their equipment without proof of insurance.Once a film concludes principal photography, it is said to have wrapped, and a wrap party may be organized to celebrate. During post-production, it may become clear that certain shots or sequences are missing or incomplete and are required to complete the film, or that a certain scene is not playing as expected, or even, as seen in the late stages of filming The Hate U Give, that a particular actor's performance or behavior has not turned out as desired, causing him or her to be completely replaced with another. In these circumstances, additional material may have to be shot. If the material has already been shot once, or is substantial, the process is referred to as a re-shoot, but if the material is new and relatively minor, it is often referred to as a pick-up.

Sean Weathers

Sean Weathers (born January 14, 1980 in Jonestown, Guyana) is an American, New York City based, film director, producer, screenwriter, editor, casting director and actor. Weathers specializes in making low-budget films primarily in the erotic and horror genres using skeleton crews and guerrilla filmmaking tactics.

Stu Maschwitz

Stuart T. Maschwitz, commonly known as Stu Maschwitz, was the co-founder and chief technology officer of The Orphanage, a visual effects company that was based in California. He has worked as senior visual effects supervisor on several films. He previously worked at Industrial Light and Magic.

Maschwitz was writer, director, cinematographer, and editor for the film The Last Birthday Card (2000). He directed the "Song For The Lonely" Cher video in 2001 as seen in The Very Best of Cher: The Video Hits Collection. His film Skate Warrior is an example of guerrilla filmmaking. He studied animation at the California Institute of the Arts.

In 2007 he authored the book The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap for Peachpit Press.

In 2008 following the suspension of The Orphanage he became software director of Red Giant Software. In October 2009 it was announced in The Hollywood Reporter that he would direct Psy-Ops.

The Orphanage (company)

The Orphanage was a visual effects studio located in California. It had offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco. It was co-founded in 1999 by Stu Maschwitz, Jonathan Rothbart and Scott Stewart, who all previously worked at Industrial Light & Magic. Scott Kirsner at Hollywood Reporter interviewed a couple of the founders and writes about the company and its plans. Stu Maschwitz created the Magic Bullet software which gives video a film look and wrote a book about guerrilla filmmaking called The DV Rebel's Guide: An All-Digital Approach to Making Killer Action Movies on the Cheap.

The Orphanage was known for its work on both commercials and features. The company recently launched Orphanage Animation Studios[1] which was headed up by Genndy Tartakovsky and was due to make their film debut with the ill-fated Power of the Dark Crystal.

The Orphanage did approximately 640 shots for the "That Yellow Bastard" section of Sin City (2005). as well as three other films with Robert Rodriguez, Spy Kids 3-D: Game Over, The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl in 3-D and the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez co-directed double feature Grindhouse.

The company has worked on a number of Hollywood blockbusters including Superman Returns, Night at the Museum, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest & At World's End and the Korean blockbuster The Host. They created the Head-up display (HUD) for the hi-tech suit of armour in the Marvel Studios production of Iron Man, for which their work was nominated for a 2008 VES Award (for Best Compositing).

They have also created commercials and a handful of Super Bowl spots for clients as varied as Comcast, Toshiba, HP, Benadryl, Nicoderm and several award-winning spots for Sony PlayStation's Ratchet & Clank.

On February 4, 2009 the company announced it was suspending operations indefinitely, after 10 years in the business. The announcement was made by company co-founders Stu Maschwitz, Scott Stewart and Jonathan Rothbart, and announced on Mr. Maschwitz's blog. No immediate notice was posted on the company's website. Although the announcement gave no reason for the closing, bloggers attributed the closing to general economic conditions.

The Plague at the Karatas Village

The Plague at the Karatas Village (Kazakh: Chuma v aule Karatas) is a 2016 Kazakh film directed by Adilkhan Yerzhanov. The plot revolves around a new mayor arriving to small Kazakh village who finds out there is a mysterious plague infecting the villagers, while locals insist it's only a flu. The film is part of the Kazakh Partisan Cinema, a guerrilla filmmaking movement that aims to work without any governmental interference.

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