The other thread of Hollywood big budget pics that could've been made on a dime, brought to mind a movie I've recently watched, that's an example of very smart thinking about small budgets. The film is Dead End from 2003.

The film is a little horror/mystery with Ray Wise. What smart filmmaking! The whole thing takes place 95% at night on an empty road in a car (jeep). It uses a few actors for the majority of scenes. There are very few locations apart from the road and surrounding forrest (like literally one shed) until the very end where there are a couple more. Virtually no props and barely any effects or elaborate makeup. Yet it is smart, and gripping and funny. Now, to be 100% honest, they fumbled the ending pretty badly, but that's just a few minutes, disappointing as that is. Still, they pulled off something very, very hard in my opinion: blending horror with humor. And the astounding thing is that it was made (in the U.S.) by a couple of Frenchmen!

Excellent dialogue, good acting from most, and nicely paced. This is smart film making. According to IMDB, they spent $900K, though it must've been mostly for the actors, post and so on, because I cannot believe the shooting itself cost much more than what you'd find under the couch cushions.

If you want to see one of the best examples of what writing a film to a budget looks like, take a gander at this movie. Highly recommended for any indie filmmaker.