The man you see above is Jason Blum, CEO and founder of one of the most significant film production studios in Hollywood and the film industry as a whole. The model that he and his team at Blumhouse have created has allowed a new generation of filmmakers to use every inch of their creativity, without going bankrupt.
It all started back in 2007 when the film Paranormal Activity was released. Jason Blum, as a producer, was involved from the film’s inception to its release. We all know about the Paranormal Activity franchise, but not many people know that the first film’s budget was roughly $15,000. The film ended up grossing more than $190 million dollars worldwide, making it an indelible success that has since spiraled other studios to pursue the pathway, or system, to their films. Post Paranormal Activity’s success, Jason Blum has produced dozens of other horror films with a very limited budget. These films include but are not limited to: Get Out (2017), Halloween (2018), Us (2019), The Invisible Man (2020), and other Paranormal Activity features. Even though those films’ budgets are much more than $15,000, in comparison to the abundance of other films being made, it is substantially less.
The Blumhouse, and Jason's, track record is incredible. What’s the main reason for their success: low production budgets.
As up and coming filmmakers, what can we take away from this? Several things actually:
As Jason Blum demonstrated, you don’t need millions of dollars to create a film, going even further, a successful film. One of the things about limiting yourself to a lower budget is that it pushes you to be as efficient and creative as possible. This, in turn, leads you to experiment and try new things, i.e. camera angles, actors, locations, etc.
One of the ironic things about big budget/blockbuster films, such as the Marvel movies, is that it forces you to be as perfect as possible and at times it can restrict your freedom. Mostly because you’re afraid that it won’t work out. There’s more pressure on you because the idea is that more people will watch your film. There are also more people to respond to, work for, and please. It can terminally restrict your creativity. Now disclaimer, I’m not saying that Marvel films or big budget movies aren’t creative or restrict the filmmaker’s ability to be as creative yet efficient as possible, I’m saying that it’s more visible and apparent in smaller budget films. One example of a filmmaker who is an auteur and whose big-budget films have made their mark on the film industry, in terms of creativity, is Christopher Nolan. In low-budget films, you have more freedom to be as creative as you can be and as Jason Blum showed, that can lead to substantial success.
As filmmakers, we can learn a lot from this model and it goes to show you that, it doesn’t take a whole lot to make a movie. What’s important and what actually matters is actually going out there and making it. Filming something. You never know who will end up seeing it, or how successful it can become – finically speaking and/or how it can positively turn your career around 180 degrees just like that.
Rico Suave is an aspiring writer and/or director. In 2017, one of his short films won an award and in 2019 he was a finalist with a short script he wrote. Rico is Colombian but has spent the majority of his life in the States.