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How Stanley Kubrick Pivoted To Low Budget Filmmaking After ‘2001’

Never underestimate Stanley Kubrick.
By  · Published on April 27th, 2020

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Sometimes masterpieces don’t come cheap. Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: a Space Odyssey was, a slow, complex, and costly production that racked up a bill of 12 million dollars. When it opened to a polarized critical reception there was pressure on Kubrick to prove to studios he could do a lower budget film. Three years later, he delivered A Clockwork Orange on a budget of 2 million dollars. That would be like if Christopher Nolan followed up The Dark Knight with Momento. Or if Peter Jackson followed up the Lord of the Rings trilogy with Dead Alive.

So, what was it like for Kubrick to transition to making a film on a fraction of a budget of his previous project? And how did he turn in a final product that feels big and cinematic on the cheap? From simplified staging to dynamic camera movement, from inexpensive in-camera lighting schemes to greater use of handheld, Kubrick’s low-budget pivots are elegant, intuitive, and adaptive. It is, obviously, not impossible to make a masterpiece on a tight budget, but seeing how Kubrick cut corners is certainly further proof of the man’s genius.

You can watch “Kubrick’s Low-Budget Masterpiece” here:

Who made this?

Brooklyn-based CinemaTyler has been providing some of the most in-depth analysis of auteur-driven cinema on YouTube for some time now. The channel is devoted to understanding filmmaking through in-depth analysis, and you can check out their YouTube account here. CinemaTyler’s scholarship on Stanley Kubrick, particularly 2001: A Space Odyssey, is noteworthy, and absolutely worth seeking out.

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Meg Shields is the humble farm boy of your dreams and a senior contributor at Film School Rejects. She currently runs three columns at FSR: The Queue, How'd They Do That?, and Horrorscope. She is also a curator for One Perfect Shot and a freelance writer for hire. Meg can be found screaming about John Boorman's 'Excalibur' on Twitter here: @TheWorstNun. (She/Her).