The Four Catagories of film budets are.
No Budget / Student
Low Budget Indie
Mid Budget or Mini-Major Indie
I am going to break down how to identify these budgets and give a few examples. This may seem like pretty obvious stuff, but it will be expanded on in the next articles in the series.
No Budget / Student ($0 – $60k)
Often films that work best in this category are short films, documentary, and comedy. Directors and Producers often make short films because they hope to raise money to create a feature version of their idea. Peluca is the short film that Napoleon Dynamite is based on. It is a good example of a good comedic student short (see it here) Period pieces and action movies are generally a bad idea to take on at this budget level.
Low Budget Indie ($50k – 5 mil)
The variety of films produced within this budget category is amazingly diverse. These producers and directors are largely operating outside of the studio system. Most of them are first and second time filmmakers who are extremely passionate and committed to getting their film completed with the help of a group of other committed individuals.
This budget range is also where many documentaries intended for PBS broadcast and educational markets live. Although the budget range for this type of project is generally quite narrow usually between $250,000 and $400,000.
Medicine for Melancholy is a great example of a low budget narrative ($50k):
See a trailer here
Bigger, Faster, Stronger is a great example of a low budget documentary (?)
Mid Budget or “Mini-Major” Indie (5 mil – 60 mil)
Films in this budget range tend to have known actors in them, since “name talent” helps lend credibility to a film. Most of these films are also being produced by what is known as a “mini-major” production company. These production companies are technically independent, but often have very close relationships with studios or other large distribution networks. It is often easier for films in this group to cast celebrity actors in roles. Check out a list of mini-majors and also a grid of the major studios and their production subsidiaries here on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_film_studio#The_.22mini-majors.22
The Soloist is an example of a mini-major production. Produced by Dreamworks SKG with Participant Media.
Studio (Sky’s the Limit!)
The number of film production studios in the U.S. is very small. Here is a Wikipedia page that Everyone knows about these movies the are the block buster action movies like Transformers, the romantic comedies starring people like Sandra Bullock and Reese Witherspoon, screwball comedies like The 40 year old virgin, and the ever popular talking animal movie.
Surrogates is an example of a Touchstone/Walt Disney Picture
If you have any questions you can comment below, or ask a question to @paradocsfilm