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Low Budget Films Find Larger Market

Vesuvio Entertainment Executive Producer Greg Sims, right

Vesuvio Entertainment Executive Producer Greg Sims, right

People often turn to entertainment in tough economic times and, as a result, Hollywood has been seen as recession-proof. But, major studios are struggling to make a profit and some are closing production units. One independent producer says the market has opened up for low budget films.

"Behind Your Eyes" is a psychological thriller - soon to be released. It's a low-budget production that, with clever marketing, could earn a good profit.

Vesuvio Entertainment, a small independent company, produced the film. Executive Producer Greg Sims says good low-budget films are finding a growing market.

"Now, people are saying it's a little bit of a sexier business as you're seeing the whole business model change and these bigger movies do not really work so well anymore, with a few exceptions," he said.

The exceptions are studio blockbusters like Avatar, the science fiction fantasy. It has earned over $2.5 billion worldwide.

But it cost hundreds of millions of dollars to make, and few producers can finance that kind of film these days.

Sims uses up-and-coming actors, thrills and action, like in his 1990 film, "Red Surf."

The film starred a young George Clooney and rock star Gene Simmons. The producer says it became a cult classic and a money-maker.

"Clooney with 'Red Surf' was really an action film with these guys that go out on wet bikes," Sims said. "They're illegally running drugs. They get into big boat fights, lots of explosions. We did that film for, I think, at the time $1.2 million."

Horror is another genre that can be done on an even lower budget. In 1997, Sims branched out into romance with the film, "Touch Me."

He says new digital technology helps cut the cost.

"So what you're seeing is people who are making a $1.5 million [or] $2 million movies are having trouble recouping those budgets now, and you're seeing a whole slew of movies being made for $100,000, $200,000, a quarter of a million," he said.

He says the key is good production and marketing, and keeping track of trends in distribution.

"My job is to be nimble and to respond to changes in the marketplace, which are happening every hour, as opposed to every year," Sims said.

With films like "Behind Your Eyes," he says he can make a profit through DVD sales, digital downloads and international distribution.