No doubt compelled by the remarkable success of low-budget hits like Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, Paramount is developing a “micro-budget” division to focus specifically on producing films with budgets that do not exceed $100,000.
As reported by The Los Angeles Times, the division will spend no more than $2 million a year financing roughly 20 micro-budget pics; but not all of these films will see the theatrical release. Instead, Paramount intends to use the new micro-budget division as a testing ground for new talent and innovative approaches to filmmaking.
Some of the films will serve as calling cards for up-and-coming directors. Other projects will test the viability of ideas and concepts for larger-scale production; the best of these projects will be remade for theatrical release with a traditional, studio feature-film budget. Finally, the most marketable and potentially profitable of the completed “micro-budget” films may be distributed theatrically or on DVD.
Paramount plans to further cut costs by exhibiting these films digitally rather than producing film prints and using word-of-mouth and viral marketing in place of traditional ad campaigns.
What sort of an impact do you think this development will have on independent filmmaking? Filmmakers will be extended the enticing option of having a major studio back their smaller films – but will there be drawbacks as well? How much control do you think the studios would exert over the content of the micro-budget pics produced? How will Paramount manage to keep budgets below $100,000, given union rates for cast and crew?
Very curious to hear your thoughts!
In 2010 Paramount initiated Insurge Pictures to produce its micro-budget films. Among the films produced is “Grease Sing-A-Long” in 2010, the documentaries Justin Bieber: Never Say Never in 2011 and Katy Perry: Part of Me in 2012, the horror film The Devil Inside (2012), and the sci-fi Project Almanac (2015). However launched as a separated division, Insurge Pictures was reduced to be a label in Paramount in 2015 after its president Amy Powell left it back to her responsibilities as president of Paramount TV and Digital Entertainment, and the Insurge staff was distributed onto Paramount feature film team.