Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Famous Horror Movie That Was Filmed In The Director's House

Making movies costs money. A lot of it. It's the universal language, but only a few, historically, have actually had the means to speak it. It's only natural that since the dawn of movies as we know them, indie directors all over the world have been on the lookout for inventive ways to circumvent the inherent costliness of the feature filmmaking process.

In addition to the state-of-the-art equipment and the numerous skilled professionals, one of the most expensive requirements of an average movie set is the location. The former two hurdles can feasibly be skipped over with a bit of resourcefulness — there have been great movies made with dirt-cheap cameras, and by small friend groups working for free. However, even if you're making a no-budget flick with nothing but an iPhone and your buddies, you're gonna need comfortable, controllable, fully available environments for stationing the crew and shooting all the takes you'll need for each scene.

Therefore, one of the most surefire ways to cut costs in movie production is to use your own home as the primary set. A number of notorious indies have gone that route, from DIY American classics like John Cassavetes' "Faces" to cult sci-fi thriller "Coherence" and Joss Whedon's post-"Avengers" Shakespearean breather project "Much Ado About Nothing." 

Then, there's the most famous example of all. Unsurprisingly, it's is a found-footage horror movie.

Oren Peli shot Paranormal Activity at home with a four-person crew

Oren Peli was a software programmer with no filmmaking experience before making "Paranormal Activity," per a 2009 interview with Moviefone. Unlike many rookie directors who resort to found-footage horror as a more accessible means of having a feature film to their name, Peli's decision to make a movie came after he was overcome with spooky inspiration.

It all started when Peli moved to a new house in San Diego. It was the first time he'd ever lived "in a detached family home as opposed to an apartment," such that he became extra-conscious of all the creaks and thuds echoing around the house at night. "That's kind of what made me think how I would go about trying to figure out what's going on and being the techno-geek that I am, my initial inclination would be to get video cameras and set them up around the house to see what was going on," he explained to Moviefone. Thus, the idea for "Paranormal Activity" was born.

According to Peli, the movie's crew was made up of "myself, my best friend Amir that I've known since I was 13 and my girlfriend I was living with at the time," in addition to a hired makeup artist. Actors Micah Sloat and Katie Featherston often operated the camera themselves. Filming took a week, and the total budget — before Paramount bought the movie and shot new material — was only $15,000.

"Paranormal Activity" became an unexpected sensation thanks to its slow-burning suburban fright, which is common knowledge these days. Despite how terrifying Peli's house was made to look, he stated that no creepy events had ever really happened in it. In fact, a few years later, the house was being flipped rather normally in the real estate market (via Curbed).