The future often starts by studying the past.

September 17th, 2010 by Ron

The Script Blogger

There was a time when cinemas presented two movies at most showings, a main feature and a low budget secondary film, affectionately referred to as the B-Movie.

Many people consider the B-Movie as terminology more relative to the low budget movies of the fifties and sixties and the decades that went before rather than today’s current cinema audience?

But as with most things in life the B-Movie hasn’t gone away, there are still millions of fans for the often Black & White, poorly acted, dangerously staged special effects and sometimes erratically edited, classic movies from this area.

Not forgetting the famous names of today who started working in the industry through the B-Movie element of the market.

James Cameron was an un-credited Production Assistant on the 1979 low budget movie “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School” and the writer of Chinatown, Robert Towne, started his career screenwriting for the legendry B-Movie Producer, Roger Corman, with “Last Woman on Earth” in 1960 and “Creature from the Haunted Sea”, in 1961.

Writers and Producers are not alone in their debt to the humble B-Movie; Jack Nicolson was way down the cast list when he played Wilbur Force in Roger Corman’s “The little Shop of Horrors”, produced for $27K in 1960.

Even Steven Spielberg’s first feature “Firelight” was in reality a B-Movie, produce in 1964 for $400, yes, four hundred dollars.

B-Movies have frequently been the birth place of great writers, producers, directors and actors and once they honed their craft they move up the celluloid ladder.

Television in the fifties and sixties extended the life of these budget restrained master pieces and in the late seventies video brought Stars from the past to an ever increasing and growing younger audience.

Now with self produced and distributed DVDs, websites such as You-Tube and inexpensive video cameras, the digital age has extended the life of the low budget beginner’s opportunity and allows creative people to produce their own B-Movies.

These Movies of the 21st century are made, often without the producers realizing they are participating in a long established part of the film industry.

The B-Movie lives on in every town, back street gathering and college in virtually every country on the globe.

A student of film today with the tools of this technological age has available a real opportunity to produce B-Movies of quality for less than the budgets used in some of the classics, forty or fifty years ago.

To many of us B-Movies are fun, memories and a place of escapism but for those who want to be part of the film industry they are an education, an enlightenment on how to achieve the impossible on limited funds and are undoubtedly an inspiration for filmmakers of the future.

It is all in the eye of the beholder and is the perfect place for young, old, new and inexperienced writers to see if what is in their head works on a screen.

Unfortunately I am unable to attend this year’s “B-Movie Celebration” held in Franklin, Indiana on the 24th, 25th and 26th of September; but if you are able to get along this is a great place to network and savor the powerhouse that has started so many careers.

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