As a screenwriter and lover of black films, I’m constantly studying my craft and the business to be the best filmmaker I can be. But as most indie filmmakers know, when you’re working with a shoe-string budget, making a movie can be very challenging. However, that’s no excuse not to make it happen. So, while I’m in the process of making my first feature film, I’ve been studying the works of other indie black filmmakers to see what can be done with small budgets.
Below I’ve compiled a list of some good black films that were made for $50K or less.
BLACK BUTTERFLY | 2010 | $9,500
Written and directed by one of my favorite filmmakers, Mark Harris, this drama is about a talented inner city high school student who dreams of making the U.S. swim team, but finds her entire life turned upside down after being victimized by a brutal event.
I WILL FOLLOW | 2010 | $50,000
Ava Duvernay’s first feature film is a semi-autobiographical account of a day in the life of a grieving woman, and the twelve visitors who help her move forward.
MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY | 2008 | $13,000
Barry Jenkins first feature film is a 24-hour account into the tentative relationship of two San Fracisco natives dealing with the issues of being a minority in their rapidly gentrifying city.
JINN | 2018 | $27,000
Nijla Mumin’s directorial debut, which she funded through Indiegogo, is about a seventeen-year-old carefree black girl’s whose life is turned upside down when her mother suddenly coverts to Islam.
LOVE YOU RIGHT | 2021 | $21,000
Written and directed by Christina Faith, this musical love story is about a successful R&B artist who hits rock bottom and realizes who his true love is.
MONEY POWER RESPECT | 2006 | $10,000
Written and directed by one of my former mentors, Jamal Hill, this street drama is about a young boy who gets caught up in drug activity and violence despite his mother’s love and guidance.
BLACK & PRIVELDGED | 2019 | $45,000
Originally premiering on Netflix, Mark Harris delivers a socially conscious drama about low-income families who move into a thriving black community and find themselves at odds with their own.
9 RIDES | 2016 | $15,000
Written and directed by Oscar award winning Matthew A. Cherry, this is a day in the life of an uber driver who receives life-changing news on the busiest night of the year.
There are many other low buget black films I’ve seen over the years who might’ve been made for less than $50K but their budget was not listed publicly so I didn’t add it to this list. But whether you’re a filmmaker or move lover, these are some good films to check out. Enjoy!