A no-budget film is a film made with very little or no money.
Young directors starting out in filmmaking and several older ones commonly use this method because there are few other options available to them at that point. All the actors and technicians are employed in these films without remuneration. These films are largely non-profit. Usually the director works alone on such films, or uses a very minimum "crew" of volunteers to assist him/her on such projects, where no money or financing is available, not including the cost of equipments and software used in production and post-production.
Satyajit Ray's debut film, Pather Panchali (1955), which was produced on a budget of ₹1.5 lakh (US$2,300) Along with the other films in Ray's The Apu Trilogy the film is frequently listed among the greatest films of all time. In 1960, Ron Rice released The Flower Thief, starring Taylor Mead, to a positive reception. The film was produced for less than $1000 using black-and-white 16mm 50' film cartridges left over from aerial gunnery equipment used during World War II. In the early 1960s, filmmaker Jack Smith used discarded color-reversal film stock to film Flaming Creatures. John Waters' 1964 black-and-white film Hag in a Black Leather Jacket reportedly cost $30 to make, though Waters has said that he stole the film stock. Craig Baldwin's Flick Skin is entirely made from discarded film, or "found footage", retrieved from a projectionist's booth. The No Wave Cinema movement of the late 1970s, represented by filmmakers such as Vivienne Dick, produced many notable no-budget films shot on Super 8, such as Beauty Becomes The Beast. In 1993, Sarah Jacobson's first film, I Was a Teenage Serial Killer, was made with "one camera, one tape recorder, one mic and, like, four lights". G.B. Jones took 13 years to film, direct and edit on Super 8mm the feature film The Lollipop Generation, which was filmed whenever she could afford to buy a roll of film, and finally released in 2008. In 2012, first-time director Shawn Holmes shot his debut film Memory Lane with non-professional actors and a budget of less than $300. In the same year Goodbye Promise, the first movie ever to be distributed online directly to its audience via a crowdfunding platform. was released. The 2013 sci-fi Hyperfutura by James O'Brien employed found footage married to a live action narrative to create a dystopian future on an inventive no-budget scale.
Footage for no-budget films is often shot on location, either with permission, or without permission which is referred to as "guerrilla filmmaking", using sites such as the home of the filmmaker or their friends, in the backyard or local neighborhood. No-budget films have often been made in the past using Super 8 mm film or video, but recent films have taken advantage of low-cost digital cameras and editing programs. A notable example of this could be found in the work of ASS Studios, a no-budget film studio founded in 2011 by Courtney Fathom Sell and Reverend Jen Miller on the Lower East Side of New York City.
No-budget films can receive distribution at film festivals that focus on independent and experimental films, such as the Flicker Film Festival and No Budget Film Festival in Los Angeles, The 8 Fest in Toronto, and the Trasharama A-Go-Go festival in Australia. The Polish brothers distributed their no-budget film For Lovers Only on iTunes and relied on social media to publicize it.