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HOW 5 HOLLYWOOD DIRECTORS MADE THEIR FIRST FEATURE FILM

With some money already secured to make my first feature film, I'm currently in the process of raising the remaining funds to make my movie. With most first time feature filmmakers, raising the necessary money to make your film is usually the most challenging task. I have come to realize that in order to make your first feature you must go all in and take a leap of faith. Here are five successful Hollywood film directors who all took their leap of faith to make your first feature and reaped the benefits of their risks.

Darren Aronofsky
First feature film: Pie (1998)

- Pi cost only $60,000 to make, most of which was raised in the form of individual $100 contributions from the director's friends and family. When it was later bought by Artisan Entertainment, each contributor got back a $150 return on their investment.
- No location permits were secured for any of the scenes filmed. The crew had to have one man constantly serving as a lookout for police so they could stop filming if needed.
- The director's mother catered for the film.
- shot on 16mm
- grossed $3.2 million dollars

Notable Films: Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain, The Wrestler

Robert Rodriguez
First feature film: El mariachi (1992)

- This film initially cost $7000 to make. Director Robert Rodriguez raised $3,000 of the $7,000 by volunteering to be a human "laboratory rat". He was used to test a cholesterol reducing drug. Paid $100 a day for 30 days, he wrote most of the script while locked in the lab. Peter Marquardt was a fellow "rat", but could not speak Spanish. He delivered his lines from card held in his hand or out of shot. Most of the $7,000 was spent on film for the camera. The version seen in most cinemas has had approximately $1 million of post-production work and promotion behind it.
- While the production budget for the film was $7,000, Robert Rodriguezestimated that if he didn't have to pay for film, processing and telecine costs, it would have only cost $600.
- Robert Rodriguez was producer, director, writer, special-effect man, etc, the only job he didn't do was act, as there would be no one else to operate the camera.
- Shot on 16mm
- grossed $2 million dollars

Notable Films: Desperado, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, Sin City

Justin Lin
First feature film: Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)

- The film was financed with 10 credit cards and with money raised independently by the filmmakers. The actors deferred their salaries.
- Justin sold his truck to help raise more funds
- Better Luck Tomorrow was selected in Sundance and was then picked up by MTV Films for distribution
- Grossed $3.8 million dollars
- Shot on 35mm
- The film cost $250,000 to make

Notable Films: Annapolis, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift, Fast & Furious

Kevin Smith
First feature film: Clerks (1994)

- Financed largely by credit cards and money borrowed from family and friends.
- Filmed at the same store in which director Kevin Smith was working at the time. As he was only allowed to film outside of business hours, and because bright enough lights couldn't be afforded, the plot included an explanation for the shutters being always down.
- The cost of obtaining the rights to the soundtrack (approx. US$27,000) outweighed the entire production costs for this film (approx. US$26,800) - a first in motion picture history.
- Clerks was filmed using a 16mm Arri SR-2 camera and used Kodak Plus-X film.
- Kevin Smith raised the film's minuscule $27,000 budget by selling off his comic collection, borrowing $3,000 from his parents and maxing out his credit cards.
- Smith worked in the store where they shot the film. They shot for 21 straight nights. He would clock on at 6am and finish at 11pm. They would then shoot till 4am, after which he would try to grab an hour or two's sleep before getting ready to go back to work.

Notable Films: Chasing Amy, Dogma, Zack and Miri Make a Porno

Ed Burns
First feature film: The Brothers McMullen (1995)

- Edward Burns gave Robert Redford a tape of this film in a NYC elevator and begged him to watch it. Redford said that Burns looked like a panhandler. "I get that all the time, but I thought, what the hell, that's what it's all about." He watched it, liked it, and the film went on to win at Sundance.
- Edward Burns (I)'s father Edward J. Burns, put up 10,000 dollars to help get the film made. He is credited as executive producer.
- Cost $23,800 to make
- Grossed $10.2 million dollars
- Shot on 16mm
- Won the Grand Jury Prize at 1995 Sundance Film Festival

Notable Films: She's the One, Sidewalks of New York, The Groomsmen

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