Low budget case study #1 – Primer

Low budget case study #1 – Primer

Recently we’ve been watching two types of films as inspiration for the production of The Hitman’s Cookbook:

  • Films that are similar in genre, style and tone to our film; and
  • Successful low budget films

How low budget? There’s low budget and then there’s…


Film – Primer (2004)

Filmmaker – Shane Carruth (Writer/ Director/ Producer)

Age at completion of film – 31

Country – USA

Budget – US$7,000

Shoot duration – 5 weeks

Format – Super 16mm

Key points

  • Five crew members
  • Shane Carruth was the writer, director, producer, cinematographer, editor, and music composer.He also stars in the film as the main protagonist
  • Shooting ratio of 2:1
  • Every shot in the film was storyboarded on 35mm stills
  • Grand Jury Winner – Sundance (2004)

I know the story behind Primer sounds familiar. El Mariachi anyone?

And, as we all know, El Mariachi probably cost a lot more than $7K. Something in the range of $200-300K+ after post-production expenses were factored in.

But don’t worry about those details. That’s not the point. Primer and El Mariachi are inspirational for aspiring filmmakers because Shane Carruth and Robert Rodriguez made it happen. They weren’t prepared to wait for someone to hand them a bag of money. They made their films with the limited resources available to them, raising the money any way they could.

Rotten Tomatoes (ie. aggregated critic reviews) – 72%


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