With recent scandals, we normally suspect a movie made in the director’s home. When the director is alone, it doesn’t matter whether the audition is in an office, an auditorium, or a hotel room, but hotel room usually seems suspect.
Let’s return to a more innocent time, when many directors didn’t have bad intentions, they just didn’t have large enough bank balances to rent a location.
1. The Brothers McMullen : Edward Burns (1995)
A few microbudget films really start the director’s career. You might say Brother’s McMullen was one of them, it shot Ed Burns through to the stratosphere as an actor.
Reportedly made for 40,000 in the director’s home, it was liked by Ebert, and one of the darlings of the microbudget scene in the 1990s.
Burns wrote, directed, acted in, and co-produced this film. Others who share his surname were also involved. Hey, when the budget is this low, you’ve got to save money somehow.
2. Smiling Fish and Goat on Fire (1999)
A similar budget to Brother’s McMullen, if not as famous. Roger Ebert liked this film, even if you might not have heard of it. He says that it received a standing ovation at the Toronto film festival, and gives it praise. (He’s not normally a fan of films this low budget, or shot in the director’s home.)
The director co-wrote this film with the two stars, perhaps giving them credit for improvisation.
3. Going Shopping: Henry Jaglom (2005)
This film seems to have heavily influenced “He’s not That Into You”, with the interview style of non-characters and extras talking about shopping predating the other film’s interview style of non-characters speaking about relationships. And, Going Shopping must have sold well on DVD, because it’s fairly easy to find second hand.
Okay, so this film doesn’t appear to be set in a house, when you have a mansion like this, you can make your shed look like a clothing store, and your garden look like a park. But, watch the making of if you don’t believe me, this is all based on the director’s property.
The director co-wrote this film with the star.
4. Paranormal Activity: Oren Peli (2007)
One of the most famous microbudget films made by a nobody, this horror film inspires millennials to make their own movies.
The Oren Pei wrote, produced, directed, edited, and shot this film. He’s uncredited with set design, because hey, I guess he decorates his own room.
5. Much Ado About Nothing: Joss Whedon (2012)
The same year that Joss Whedon directed “Avengers Assemble”, he adapted Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. He said that the budget was so low, that it had to be shot in black and white. This critically acclaimed, microbudget Shakespeare movie was shot in his house, and starred his friends and neighbours. Of course, he has a huge house, and has some pretty experienced friends and neighbours.
Should the director get a screenplay credit? Well, he gets one, because he adapted Shakespeare’s original script for the screen.
Lesser known films
The films above seem to have been written by the director, or by the director and the stars, or the director wrote and starred in the film. We don’t have as much information about these other films, but they seem to be similarly low-budget, with writer-directors. Here are some lower profile films that seem to be shot in the director’s house.
Multiple Maniacs (1970)
Is it in John Water’s apartment? I’m not sure. – weird movie though. This guy went on to create Hairspray, but most of his films were for a cult (meaning small but loyal) audience.
Chronicle of a Disappearance (1996)
Not entirely shot in the director’s house, but partly there. A strange film from a Palestinian perspective.
Short film, shot in the director’s house. The director’s names is Lud Mônaco
Four Twenty (2012)
The entire film was shot in the director’s house. Or, so claims the IMDB page. I’m not sure if you can see this film anywhere.
Rita Dove: An American Poet (2014)
Partially filmed at the director’s house. The readings at the end readings were recorded at the director’s house.
Dara Says (2014)
Most of this film was shot in the director’s and producer’s living room, in the course of a month. A half day in the kitchen, and a couple of days in the dining room. They played two of the film’s three characters and edited it along with the crew of two. A stunt director arrived for a day and a half so the director could do his own stunts.
The entire house is probably smaller than one room of the other films, but oh well. The budget of the crowdfunded feature film was tiny too, with the crew’s salaries paid for by a Jobs Growth Wales scheme.
Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of this film, we might not have heard of it either if we didn’t create it ourselves.