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Shoestring Budgets to Blockbuster Hits: 5 Indie Directors Gone Hollywood


It’s not difficult to imagine the screams of joy at Warner Bros. after Godzilla VS King Kong passed $470 million at the global box office. The movie (directed by a former indie filmmaker) was the first big blockbuster of the pandemic three years ago.


There’s a trend going on in Hollywood that’s become increasingly common over the last decade or so…Studios are entrusting their big bets to indie directors with only a few credits to their name. Numerous indie projects across history have defined the future of a director's filmography.


Here’s five directors who started out in the indie scene and found themselves entertaining the world.



Robert Rodriguez (El Mariachi to Spy Kids)


Robert Rodriguez burst onto the scene in 1992 with his western action film, El Mariachi. The film was shot for just $7,000. This film debut and 5 more features helped Rodriguez build up to his successful breakout in 2001 with the blockbuster hit, Spy Kids which had a budget of $35 million. Talk about dreams coming true!



Tobe Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre to Poltergeist)


Most people know Tobe Hooper as the man behind the meat. The creator of Leatherface. But did you know this cult horror classic was his second film? Just 8 years after The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Hooper went on to spawn the Poltergeist franchise with a $10.7 million dollar budget!




Gigi Saul Guerrero (Short Films to Bingo Hell)


You’ve probably seen Gigi pop up in a Swiffer or Crest commercial before. She’s an emerging talent, acting in multi-million dollar commercials and directing big budget hits for Blumhouse. But did you know Gigi began her career writing, directing, and acting in her own short films?



Adam Wingard (Home Sick to Godzilla VS King Kong)


Adam Wingard began his career with the low-budget film, Home Sick in 2007. This memorable horror flick was made for less than $2,000. Could you imagine the look on Wingard’s face when he walked onto the Warner Bros. lot to direct Godzilla VS King Kong?



David Lynch (Eraserhead to DUNE)


David Lynch exemplifies the transition from indie success to mainstream recognition. With his debut film in 1977 Lynch was able to get across his atmospheric storytelling for just $10,000 with Eraserhead. In 1980 he broke out with his critically acclaimed cult classic The Elephant Man. To date, his biggest budget is the 1984 sci-fi adventure classic DUNE at $45 million.


Do you know any other indie filmmakers who have made the jump to million-dollar budgets? Let us know in the comments!


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