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underthecity
02-07-2009, 11:58 PM
This isn't really a Movies/TV forum post, it's actually for research. I'm thinking about putting together a project that involves independent movies that either became successful at the box office, or the film catapulted the creator's career and has since become a cult film. In general, I'm looking for titles of movies that were made on a shoestring budget but ended up doing well despite the odds.

The ones that come to mind are Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Clerks, and Halloween.

TCM because it was made cheaply but became influential and a cult classic.

Clerks, Kevin Smith's first film, financed by his credit cards and shot on location.

Halloween, I don't believe was John Carpenter's first film, but it furthered his career and launched Jamie Lee Curtis's career.

What others?

Memnon624
02-08-2009, 12:00 AM
El Mariachi by Robert Rodriguez
Reservoir Dogs by Quentin Tarantino

Best,

Scott

escritora
02-08-2009, 12:11 AM
The Blairwitch Project
Sex, Lies, and Videotape
The Brother's McMullen

MaryMumsy
02-08-2009, 12:20 AM
'Dirty Dancing'? Not sure if it was indie, but it was low budget and no one expected what happened.

MM

John Paton
02-08-2009, 12:30 AM
Porkys was a sleeper but maybe not an Indie ;)

cbenoi1
02-08-2009, 12:43 AM
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Decline of the American Empire & Barbarian Invasions (Denys Arcand)

La Femme Nikita (Luc Besson)
Le Grand Bleu / The Big Blue
Duel (Spielberg)
Louis 19 (precursor to Truman Show, Ed, and TV reality shows)

ETA: The Blair Witch Project - is a clear winner in my mind.

-cb

alleycat
02-08-2009, 12:49 AM
Was Repo Man an indie? I'm thinking it was, but I'm not sure.

What was the one were the producer/director maxed out his credit cards to make the film and it turned into a big hit?

WriteKnight
02-08-2009, 12:52 AM
The "credit card' legend is about El Mariachi.

It might help if you decide what YOUR definition of 'indy' is. It varies from list to list. Some majors have 'indy' subsidiaries. Tom Hanks, for instance, produced "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" and "The Wonders" (The fifites one hit wonders movie). Would you consider a film an 'indy' if its primary backing was a star like Tom Hanks or Clint Eastwood (Gran Torino - a very 'small' film in many ways.)

underthecity
02-08-2009, 01:28 AM
The definition that I am going by is no major studio had anything to do with it. If it were financed by that one producer himself, i.e. Clerks, but had Tom Hanks in it, then that might be pushing my definition.

waylander
02-08-2009, 01:39 AM
Dark Star - John Carpenter directed and co-wrote the screenplay. It started out as a 16mm student film

Where's Eyeblink when you need him? He''s well into all this stuff

Miss.Stefani
02-08-2009, 01:45 AM
Juno and Little Miss Sunshine, as well.

And is The Rocky Horror Picture Show indie? If nothing else, it definitely classifies as being a cult hit.

waylander
02-08-2009, 01:47 AM
Rocky Horror Picture Show was derived from a highly successful stage show so I doubt it qualifies as the sort of indi production the OP is interested in.
There is no doubting its cult status

Miss.Stefani
02-08-2009, 02:07 AM
Rocky Horror Picture Show was derived from a highly succesful stage show so I doubt it qualifies as the sort of indi production the OP is interested in.
There is no doubting its cult status
Oh, ok. I wasn't sure :)

waylander
02-08-2009, 02:18 AM
It was originally a 20th Century Fox film
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Rocky_Horror_Picture_Show

underthecity
02-08-2009, 02:28 AM
I'd love to include Rocky Horror, but it was done by a major studio.

jgold
02-08-2009, 02:35 AM
Napoleon Dynamite?

eyeblink
02-08-2009, 04:12 AM
Your wish is my command, oh Waylander. :)

Halloween was John Carpenter's third feature. Dark Star was his first, and you could mention the one in between, Assault on Precinct Thirteen

Others in no particular order:

David Lynch's Eraserhead and Blue Velvet

Picnic at Hanging Rock - probably the film that more than most put Australian cinema on the map

Mad Max (made independently but picked up by Warner Bros, so may not count)

Peter Jackson's early films - Bad Taste, Meet the Feebles, Braindead (aka Dead Alive) and Heavenly Creatures

Deep Throat ;)

Night of the Living Dead

Several indies that probably didn't make a fortune but were highly influential include John Cassavetes's Shadows, John Sayles's Return of the Secaucus Seven, Jim Jarmusch's Stranger Than Paradise. Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It

Are you concentrating on English-language films? Most foreign films are distributed independently in the USA and UK, but could certainly go on a list like this for influence's sake.

This list is potentially endless. Three books that you might want to look at are Cult Movies, Cult Movies 2 and Cult Movies 3, all by Danny Peary and published in the 80s, which cover 200 films between them.

thethinker42
02-08-2009, 04:15 AM
Boys Don't Cry

katiemac
02-08-2009, 06:05 AM
I know both of these have already been mentioned, but it's probably worth noting that Juno is the most successful indie film in the past six or so years. Before that, it was My Big Fat Greek Wedding.

Aside from that, you might want to confirm if Sideways, Maria Full of Grace and Garden State are "true" indies. Check out the list of nominees for The Spirit Awards for the past couple of years--it's all indies. Keep in mind that indies, to be really successful, have to be picked up by a studio at some point. Otherwise it's not going to get a wide release.

SirOtter
02-08-2009, 08:37 AM
Gone With the Wind. Although it was released by MGM, it was made by Selznick International.

semilargeintestine
02-08-2009, 09:55 AM
What about Memento?

maxmordon
02-08-2009, 10:31 AM
Forbidden Zone. The budget was of 500 bucks, the sets were made by the film's protagonist and a plumber and it was the first movie Danny Elfman composed the soundtrack (no surprise there since his brother was the director)

IceCreamEmpress
02-08-2009, 09:12 PM
What was the one were the producer/director maxed out his credit cards to make the film and it turned into a big hit?

Hollywood Shuffle.

It's been said about other films since then, but it was definitely true about Hollywood Shuffle.


She's Gotta Have It was made on a tiny budget and earned millions, which enabled Spike Lee to produce Do the Right Thing himself on a reasonable indie budget.



Gone With the Wind

I think you missed this part of underthecity's post: I'm looking for titles of movies that were made on a shoestring budget but ended up doing well despite the odds.

jennontheisland
02-09-2009, 02:03 AM
Evil Dead.

Film school project. 1 camera and a fog machine.

underthecity
02-09-2009, 02:48 AM
Thanks for all the great titles! I have seen many of these and had forgotten about Dark Star and Evil Dead. I never knew My Big Fat Greek Wedding was an independent movie. It sure feels like it had a big budget.

And for the purposes of this project, I'll have to exclude foreign films.

Eyeblink, I don't have those particular Danny Peary books. I have Cult Movie Stars and Psychotronic Handbook of Film.

Here's the list from this thread:

Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Clerks
El Mariachi
Reservoir Dogs
The Blair Witch Project
Sex, Lies, and Videotape (really? indie with small budge?)
The Brothers McMullen
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
Duel
Repo Man (I'm still not sure if it was an idie. Feels like one.)
Dark Star
Juno
Little Miss Sunshine
Napolean Dynamite (maybe)
Eraserhead
Blue Velvet
Picnic at Hanging Rock
Mad Max (these are on the list despite the "foreign" label)
Bad Taste (Although not a smash, it's P Jackson's first film.)
Night of the Living Dead
Shadows
Return of the Secaucus Seven
Stranger Than Paradise
She's Gotta Have It
Boys Don't Cry
Memento
Forbidden Zone
Hollywood Shuffle
She's Gotta Have It
Evil Dead

I still have to research these and make sure they all fit the criteria I've chosen for this project. If the indie film already had everything going for it, like a big budget and/or big stars, then it might not make the list. I want to focus on the underdogs, the directors with the vision, ability, but limited funds and no production company. They made their film, and despite the odds, secured a distributor and got wide release and good ratings.

What else should make the list?

HoraceJames
02-09-2009, 05:53 AM
Good list. The DVD of Eraserhead has an interview with David Lynch and describes the years of it took to complete, just out of film school, ran out of money, etc. etc.

WriteKnight
02-09-2009, 08:04 AM
"Eating Raoul" is a must. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083869/
It would help if you define - for your purposes - what a 'small' budget is.

KikiteNeko
02-09-2009, 08:30 AM
Waitress.

This is a really cute movie, but there's such a sad and bizarre circumstance behind it. It went to Sundance, and the day before it was picked up by 20th Century Fox, the writer/director/supporting actress was murdered in her apartment. She'd written a few unsuccessful or mildly successful scripts in the past, but this one made it huge.

sheadakota
02-09-2009, 04:12 PM
Wasn't Good Will Hunting an independant film?

Noah Body
02-09-2009, 05:06 PM
The Terminator and Platoon, both financed by Hemdale.

eyeblink
02-09-2009, 10:48 PM
Waitress.

This is a really cute movie, but there's such a sad and bizarre circumstance behind it. It went to Sundance, and the day before it was picked up by 20th Century Fox, the writer/director/supporting actress was murdered in her apartment. She'd written a few unsuccessful or mildly successful scripts in the past, but this one made it huge.

That was the late Adrienne Shelly, previously best known for her lead roles in Hal Hartley's first two films, The Unbelievable Truth and Trust. Talking of which, one or both of those films should be on the list.

eyeblink
02-09-2009, 10:53 PM
I wouldn't call Duel an indie - it was made for television. Also, you have She's Gotta Have It twice.

I would definitely call Sex, Lies and Videotape an indie - it's one of the key US independent films of the 80s.

Also, if you're going to exclude foreign-language films, then El Mariachi would have to go.

psaluka
02-10-2009, 04:13 AM
I don't know how well it did, but how about Bubba Hotep?

HoraceJames
02-10-2009, 06:52 AM
Here's a list:

http://www.empireonline.com/features/50greatestindependent/10-1.asp

underthecity
02-10-2009, 03:35 PM
Thanks! I hadn't seen that list.

ManyAk
02-11-2009, 11:32 PM
Evil Dead.

Film school project. 1 camera and a fog machine.

Amen.

Mostly financed by dentists and doctors from Sam Raimi's home town. He and his best friend Bruce Campbell visited every single one of them and presented a short film for future reference.

Bloody awesome.