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By Ashley Cooper | April 16, 2004

Everyone these days likes to talk about the rigors of low budget filmmaking. Low budget often means you have around one million dollars to make your movie. Sure it’s not the 300 million “The Lord of the Rings” had, but you can still get a crew and some recognizable actors. No-budget is a different story. In no-budget movies there are no investors to pay salaries, so the filmmakers ask friends and relatives to serve as cast and crew. Unless your last name is something like Coppola or Hanks, it’s not quite the same kind of set. Still, all no budget filmmakers believe in their souls that if they have a good script, make the most of what equipment is available (usually digital cameras rather than film), and can find good actors willing to work for free, then there is no reason why their movies can’t be as good as anyone’s. After viewing “Market 175”, I’m starting to think that some of these people aren’t just fooling themselves.

“Market 175” follows the fading fortunes of a small news station and its leading field reporter, Mark. As the station tinkers of the verge of losing its sponsor, Mark tries desperately to boost the show’s ratings. Of course, nothing works. It’s not all his fault though. The rest of the station is pretty much incompetent as well, so it’s not a big surprise that they’re about to go under. Making matters worse, Mark awkwardly screws up his advances to the station’s luminous anchorwoman and finds himself consistently the butt of a rival news station reporter’s jokes. Yep, looks like Mark’s a born loser.

Admittedly, if I were to read that summary I wouldn’t be rushing out to see this movie either. But, try reading a synopsis of “Ghostbusters” some time. Does that summary make you want to see that film? Summaries can give you what is told but not how, and it’s how a story is told that matters most. Though not seamless and running a little long, “Market 175” is charming nonetheless. I’m not saying that you won’t find some of the plot predictable. You will probably telegraph some of its developments. Still, unless you’re either some kind of sensitive poet or a strict devotee of Tarantino and his loquacious gangster chic genre, you will enjoy this movie.

I am amazed at the production values that came from the $700 spent on this film. Shot on the Panasonic camera that digitally mimics the qualities of film cameras and aided by exceptional lighting, this movie could pass for film. The director of photography also made appropriate use of the shaky camera look to achieve the behind-the-scenes feel of this film. When this is done right, you forget where you are and put yourself in the scene. When it is done wrong, you get seasick. It’s done right here. Throw in a car chase and a dazzling opening scene and you’ve got something special. Finally, credit has to be given to the actors. While their reactions were not always as snappy as they could be, they carried across the humor of a story that would have been lost with a lesser cast. Given their limited time for rehearsal and production, you couldn’t ask for much better.

Why can’t more people make movies like this? The tools are there, all you have to do is learn how to use them. While we’re at it, why can’t more filmmakers come up with something with a plot and that’s actually enjoyable to watch? This random isolated disturbing images thing has gotten way old.

The people over at Linn Productions have now proved that, even with no money, they can compete with the big boys. Lets see what happens if someone gives them a budget.

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