PRE-PRODUCTION - with a production grant and $5,000
Not allowing the lack of money to deter him, Klavun began casting right away. Locations were vigorously scouted, and then came time to start buying props. Money.
Klavun was told on numorous occasions that making a film for less than $100,000 was crazy, and quite rightly so. To give an idea of what films cost to make, to the right are some ballpark figures.
As you can see, it still costs over $100,000 to make a film on the low, low end of the "low budget" spectrum.
Then there is the occasional film made for under $100,000 that gets recognition. The Blair Witch Project is a famous example, made for only $35,000. Of course this film was using the "video look" as part of its story, as obviously most films wouldn't get very far with jerky camera shots for half the picture. Kevin Smith did a great job with Clerks on a $27,000 budget (with over $200,000 put into post-production). And of course there's the famous El Mariachi made for only $7,000 which is quite rightly recognized as an amazing feat, but it should also be noted that this was made in Mexico in 1992 where things were a bit cheaper as well as the fact that over $200,000 was put into post production work.
So it is not surprising that many thought Klavun a bit naive to be going into production for Primal Legacy with the use of some equipment and only a few thousand dollars to his name, but he didn't want to wait for years, hoping that someone would give a few million dollars to a director's first feature film. He decided he was going to make his film in whatever way he could with the resources he had, and it was this kind of stubborn determination that carried him through the intense two year process from conception to completion.
What Klavun did have was a production grant from the Digital Film Academy. This was not money, but it allowed him to used a Canon XL1 miniDV video camera (similar to the cameras used to make the miniDV films listed above) as well as all other necessary equipment. That, and the $5,000 in his bank was going to have to do.
Gabriel Klavun's sister, Emily Klavun, was completing a two year acting graduate program at the Neighborhood Playhouse in Manhattan. She, as well as her classmates were eagerly looking for projects in which they could show of their new skills and build their reels. To the good fortune of Primal Legacy, Emily Klavun, along with two of her classmates, Matthew Sanda and Melissa Bickey, decided to join the project as the primary cast. The project quickly came together as Cameraman Benjamin Pender-Cudlip volunteered for the two week shoot, as well as a number of talented local actors for supporting roles. Among these, Andrew Bolevice shines in the supporting male role, and Laurie McLeod, who is well known in the dance and art cinema world, most recently for her beautiful underwater dance pieces, makes an appearance as well.
Having a makeshift crew of friends and friends of friends, all of whom at a passion for film-making, Klavun plowed headlong into an intense 10-day shooting schedule.
AN OVERVIEW OF FILM BUDGETS
Lord of the Rings: Return of the King
Those were just to give a reference point for the high end. Big blockbuster types. A typical plot driven movie usually costs around $50 million dollars. Here are just a few samples:
MODERATE BUDGET The Village $60,000,000 Gothika $40,000,000 The Ladykillers $35,000,000 Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind $20,000,000
Then we enter was is called "low budget." Most beginning film-makers can't even dream of having the money a "low budget" film costs. On these films the actors usually will take a lower pay or even next to nothing, hoping to make some money from the box office. In cases, such as Spider, the lead actor had such faith in the script he was willing to do it no matter how little money he got up front. As can be seen, these films still cost millions of dollars:
Being John Malkovich
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Then we get into films shot on miniDV video. This can cut a huge amount out of the productions costs.
LOW BUDGET SHOT ON MiniDV
Sex, Lies and Videotape