Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney’s Strawberry Mansion is set in the near-distant future, where a surveillance state conducts audits of people’s dreams in order to collect taxes on the populace’s unconscious existence. One government agent (Audley himself) heads to a remote farmhouse to audit an eccentric elderly artist’s lifetime of dreaming. Made on a scant budget, it’s an independent film heavily reliant on a DIY aesthetic: a virtual reality helmet resembles a bin lid, VHS tape recurs throughout, and its masks and stop-motion animation have an appealingly crude quality to them.
Given the limited budgets usually involved, independent genre fare and experimental cinema are often host to creative effects, both practical and digital. You can still get professional makeup artists and special effects wizards to help your dream project reach fruition, but when it comes to achieving that key visual component lingering in the back of your mind, there’s something to be said for giving it a go on your own: be it depicting a journey to outer space or turning yourself into a metallic monstrosity.
To mark the UK release of Strawberry Mansion, here are 10 key films that rely on what we’ll broadly label ‘DIY effects’. With one notable exception, this list sticks to films with no major-studio-backing during initial production, and, where budget information is available, nothing with a reported production budget exceeding $1 million…
Full feature for the BFI