Top 10 Best Low Budget Films of the Decade

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As Hollywood tightens its belt we’re seeing an increasing number of low budget films being made. Generally film budgets are a grey area, how is the money raised and exactly how much was spent on production let alone marketing? Below is a list of some of the best low budget films (less than $2million) of the decade, where the filmmakers and producers got it right. They’re artistically strong films whilst packing enough punch to satiate even the most ardent genre lovers.

1. Bronson (2008)

Tom Hardy in Bronson Film poster

Director: Nicolas Winding Refn

Directors 4th film

Budget: £140,141

Interesting Facts: Jason Statham was initially considered for the role!


Vertigo Films received £150,000 to widen the distribution of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Bronson. From an interview with with the director he states the production design budget was just £30,000.

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2. Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Hush Puppy and Dad in Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012)

Director: Benh Zeitlin

Directors Debut

Budget:  $1,800,000

Interesting Facts: Most of the actors including the young lead have no prior acting experience and are simply individuals who lived in the community where the film was shot.

Funding: New York nonprofit Cinereach. 

3. Brick (2005)

Rian Johnson’s Brick (2005) Film poster

Director: Rian Johnson

Directors Debut

Budget: $450,000

Interesting Facts: Rian Johnson worked for 10 years trying to get his debut made.

Funding: Friends and Family

4. Fish Tank (2009)

Andrea Arnold’s Fish Tank film poster

Director: Andrea Arnold

Directors Debut

Budget:  £1,827,930

Interesting Fact: Lead actress Katie Jarvis had no prior acting experience. She was cast for the film after one of Arnold’s casting assistants saw her arguing with her boyfriend at a train station.

Funding: Lottery funds

5. Hunger (2008)


Steve McQueen’s Hunger Film poster with Michael Fassbender

Director: Steve McQueen

Directors Debut

Budget: $2,724,474

inflation adjusted 2013 $2,949,287.43

Interesting Facts:

The film is notable for an unbroken 17-minute shot, in which a priest played by Liam Cunningham tries to talk Bobby Sands out of his protest. In a similar style to legendary director Antonioni.


After financing for Hunger was turned down by the Irish Film Board, the film was instead co-funded by Northern Ireland Screen, Broadcast Commission of Ireland, Channel 4, Film4 Productions, and the Wales Creative IP Fund.

6. Submarine (2010)

Still shot from Richard Ayoade’s Submarine (2010)

Director: Richard Ayoade

Directors Debut

Budget: $1,900,000

Interesting Facts: Around 100 actors submitted video auditions for the roles of Oliver, Jordana, and Chips

Funding: £700k BFI

7. Shifty (2008)

Still shot from Eran Creevy’s Shifty (2008)

Director: Eran Creevy

Directors Debut

Budget: £244,579

Interesting Facts: Metrodome Distribution received £156,000 to widen the distribution

Funding: Film London’s Microwave Scheme

8. London To Brighton (2006)

Still shot from Paul Andrew William’s London To Brighton (2006)

Director: Paul Andrew Williams

Directors Debut

Budget: £80,000 + received £185,000 for post-production

Interesting Facts: It is said the Director wrote the script over a weekend!

Funding: Private investors. A large part of postproduction from the Film Council

9. The Football Factory 2004

Scene from Nick Love’s The Football Factory (2004)

Director: Nick Love

Directors Debut

Budget: £623,138 

inflation adjusted 2013 £810,204

Interesting Facts: For the gamers out there, there’s a scene in the film where Tommy Johnson walks into a lounge where his friend Rod is playing Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2002). This game was made by Rockstar Games, who are also credited as being Executive Producers for the movie. Also, Danny Dyer who plays Tommy Johnson in Football Factory was the voice of Kent Paul in Vice City.

Funding: Unknown

10. This is England 2006

Shane Meadow’s This Is England (2006) Film poster

Director: Shane Meadows

Directors 6th film

Budget: £1,472,500

inflation adjusted £1,804,696

Interesting Facts:

The 13-year-old lead actor Turgoose had never acted before this film, in fact he had been banned from his school play for bad behaviour, and demanded £5 to turn up for the film’s auditions. This convinced director Shane Meadows he was perfect for the role. The film was dedicated to Turgoose’s mother, Sharon, who died of cancer on 29 December 2005; while she never saw the film, she saw a short preview. The cast attended her funeral.

Funding: Lottery Fund

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