Lazy Teenage Superheroes: $300 short superhero movie kicks ass

Lazy Teenage Superheroes is an extremely funny, extremely well-executed 13-minute rude little superhero movie, made by Michael Ashton for a mere $300. It's full of cussin', lewd speculative scenarios involving the private lives of slacker teen supes who are mostly interested in using their powers to get loaded and/or laid. And there's ninjas and herpes jokes.

Lazy Teenage Superheroes - Short Film


  1. Not sure if it’s available in the USA in any form, but I strongly urge everyone to watch the TV series Misfits, about the sweary, violent adventures of a gang of teenage miscreants blessed with superpowers.

    Seriously, it won awards and everything: amazing.

  2. Not bad. Someone needs to learn that sound is just as important as visuals, however. I couldn’t make out half the dialogue.

  3. $300 for a bunch of indie folks that aren’t getting paid.
    Thousands for the same work done professionally.

    It’s a good show, but bragging about how they only spent $300, is like bragging that your car your car 5$ a month to fuel … because your dad usually fills the tank for you.

  4. I have a hard time sitting through a 30 second You Tube video (ADD?), but that kept me on the line from beginning to end! Great!

  5. Nice job. I agree with the comments on sound quality and line delivery. I really liked that the requisite “hot chick” had the best superpower. Or was it just a device so a long lingering shot of Ms. Costner walking in slow motion could be included? ;)

    BTW the trillionth significant digit of Pi is in fact 2

  6. Would echo the previous comments re: Misfits being excellent and worth seeking out, pausing only to add that if you are a TV exec looking for something to remake for US TV, then “move along, there is nothing to see here”

  7. Yeah . . . the $300 bit might have been the actual outlay for props, etc., but obviously there was a buttload of hardware/software in existence prior to the filming. And I’d be willing to bet that it all cost a LEETLE more than $300.

    1. Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. “300 for the props, $3000 in equipment and pirated software”. It’s not exactly done on a netbook with a webcam.

      1. “Yeah, I was thinking the same thing. “300 for the props, $3000 in equipment and pirated software”. It’s not exactly done on a netbook with a webcam.”

        I dislike that you assume that anyone making low budget videos with special effects must be a pirate. Have you seen what Blender, the free 3D app is capable of?

        There are free video editors, audio editors, software for effects and really everything in this video could have been handled in free software.

        It might actually be true that everyone involved is a pirate, killed friends for props and robbed banks to pay for their actors cocaine habits. But just like I wouldn’t assume you’re a pirate running pirated Windows 7, writing your comments in a pirated MS Office suite, I wouldn’t assume any of these guys involved were doing anything illegal either.

        I’d find it more likely that a parent worked in the industry, had access to cool software, a school had access to the software or everything was done with minimal or free software. Maybe I just think more highly of people who want to be this creative, and maybe you’re just jealous that kids are out there doing something you haven’t the talent to do yourself so you mock it in comments and feel suitably superior that they’re now put in their place and encouraged to try no such creative things in the future. But there I go assuming things I know nothing about. I guess we could both learn from that.

        I mean really, if you met these kids in real life, would your honest reaction to them be this negative?

        Oh and a netbook can render out effects for video just as well as any desktop computer. This isn’t Avatar here. These are small effects that can be rendered very quickly on any hardware.

        1. I know that free software is highly capable, and is used by professionals in many cases. I use FOSS whenever possible (when it suits my needs without too many drawbacks), including linux.

          However, I can tell you with 99% certainty that this wasn’t made with free software. Not because free software isn’t capable, but because it’s easier to do with the big-name commercial stuff, and because that’s what the pros use. They didn’t necessarily pirate it – Kevin Costner’s daughter plays the girl, and he can certainly afford anything these kids needed – but they probably did, or they used the computers at school that have it.

          In high school my friends and I made movies too. Like these guys, we did stuff that essentially reached the limit of what teenagers with a $0 budget, inexpensive borrowed equipment, extremely limited time, and pirated or school-owned software could do – adjusted for the capabilities of the time, naturally (~2002-2004). We simply couldn’t have done all the things we did in free software. We tried everything we could figure out how to do, and learned a lot in the process.

          I do think it is disingenuous to tout a $300 budget in this type of situation, because the actual costs (even accounting for free labor) are much higher, and a “real” production would indeed cite the full costs – including all the hardware and software.

        2. Yes, there are capable free alternatives; but they’re generally used by companies that customise the hell out of them and spend upwards of $100k of salaries a year on doing so.

          Blender, for example, is good if you HAVE to use something for free; but in its native state its not worth much more then ‘free’.

          That said, there’s nothing to say that these folks didn’t do so. However I’m afraid to say that ‘ i doubt it’.

  8. Yeah umm there is no way they only used $300 worth of equipment. I assume this was a school project so the tuition cost to use all that fancy equipment for free should be factored in.

  9. watch misfits – it’s like heroes but with loads of sex and swearing and decent writing and good story arcs. um, maybe it’s not like heroes . . .


  10. If they ever pursue such things professionally they’re going to have to learn Hollywood accounting principles and learn to not claim it only cost $300.

  11. Not that outrageous, assuming free loaners of most of the equipment. El Mariachi (which is awesome and kicks ass and is also awesome) is a full feature-length action film made for $7,225.

  12. Horrible audio, but, I’d watch a series based on the evil adventures of the robot fly creature. He/it was by far the most interesting character.

  13. Weinstein Bros take note. Whether Michael Ashton’s Lazy Teenage Superheroes cost $300 or $30,000 it still beats everything Kevin Smith has done since Clerks.

  14. Shame on them for not including in the budget any software and hardware that they had brought to the project. Not to mention any props and clothing. Oh, and education that went into learning how to make a film, create effects or act. Plus the basic education that laid a foundation for that. And then there’s the cost of their upbringing, and when you get right down to it, the cost of their parent’s upbringing and so on.

    Good gods, the actual cost of this thing is staggering!

    1. “If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.” -Carl Sagan

      Expensive indeed.

      (Enjoyed the film, by the way, regardless of how much it cost to make.)

    2. You know that when Hollywood studios do their accounting, they always include the kick-backs that they get from the local government and the taxes that we pay to build and maintain those streets and bridges and airports where they film for free. So those industry figures are always perfectly accurate.

      1. I think the general point is that while they may have only spent $300 during the making of this film, they couldn’t produce a full length film for $1,500 unless they’ve got a ton more favors to call in, and entire cast is made of trust fund babies.

        Also, these guys pulled together an awesome 13 minute short, that’s good, but it isn’t earth-shaking. Any director worth his salt can turn in a good 13 minutes, it’s stretching it to 75 or a season on TV that’s hard.

        1. Yeah, I am sure it is SUPER easy to do this kind of thing. Come on give the guys/girls a little credit. This was great!

        2. That isn’t the general point at all. The general point is a bunch of really inexperienced young peeps got together and made something that’s been popular enough to be featured on Boing Boing and a bunch of other sites like it. I’ll summarise with bullet points for you since you’re struggling.

          You say

          1. Almost impossible to make a full length feature on a really low budget.
          2. They may have spent $300 but I’m having problems believing it and I’ll be damned if I don’t explain why to everyone.
          3. Anyone making videos must see it as a business. You call favours in, you give favours out when you have to.
          4. This wasn’t the best short movie I ever saw, ergo it’s shit really isn’t it?
          5. These kids don’t know what its like to work in the real world of high pressure TV and movies. I’ll learn ’em!
          6. Any director can do what they did, see I told you I’d prove it was nothing but shit.
          7. There’s no worth in this being creative malarky, kids today have to think of everything in terms of business and then feel depressed they can’t do shit as good as real industry experienced directors.

          I say.

          1. Bullshit. Anyone can make a full length movie. I just have to hit record and go for it as does anyone. The creative ideas you have to have along the way, the relationship building with friends, organisational skills you’ll have to work on bringing people together online and offline and experience you gain from your failures will all help you out in a future in film and if you don’t make it big, at least you have those videos to look back on when you’re all washed up with your bottle of jack. Damn I’m catching your depressive bug.

          2. Who cares if it cost $300 in cash or more when you factor in that a neighbor bought a cheese sandwich while they were filming and a parent bought one a camera for xmas or any number of extra things. They went into this, did it and felt $300 out of pocket at the end of it. The really important part is the idea that you don’t need a huge budget to have a go. It’s inspiring for others.

          3. I’m guessing now but it looked like to me that it was a bunch of friends all pitching in to bring something together for nothing more than the sheer fun of it. Favours indeed.

          4. If all that will ever impress you is the absolute best in everything then you’re going to lead a very depressing life.

          5. Thank god they don’t have to work to brutal deadlines and hand over most if not all of their creative control until they’ve established themselves. These early experiments are still hugely worthwhile on a number of levels.

          6. News flash, these aren’t established industry figures with years of experience and a whopping media education behind them. They’re kids!

          7. I just hope you’re not a parent.

          1. I said it was an awesome 13 minutes, were I a Hollywood producer, I’d seriously consider paying them to crank out 6 episodes. However, I’d expect to pay a reasonable rate for the episodes, not $2400 and I’d be will to get back complete junk if the case that the director can’t handle all the other types of scenes aside from big reveals and action sequences.

          2. The reason people are harping on the $300 thing is not because they don’t like it. Quite the opposite. I think while it IS amateurish, it’s pretty good. But as penguinchris mentions, it’s disingenuous to imply that it only took $300 to manufacture this film, particularly when the implication is being made that they’re smarter or more efficient than the established production companies when doing so.

            Plenty of fan-projects and movies are made. Do you remember “Batman: Dead End”? That was considered by many to be an amazing film (though I personally found the fan-wankery a little over-done) and one of the best visions of Batman (coming out 2 years before Batman Begins). That film cost about $30,000 for 8 minutes. Of course, that film also included lots of effects like rain, complicated lighting and extensive costuming. But it was intended as an audition reel: a way to show off the creators skills in hopes of securing future projects. Lazy Teenage Superheroes is the same thing. Everyone volunteers their time, equipment and services as a way of ‘paying it forward’. In the case of Sandy Collora and his crew, it resulted in landing a full project. Reviewing the site of Michael Ashton, the director/writer shows that this is the same case here.

            The point here is that this is a fine piece of work, but if it had been made as part of an actual production with everyone getting paid instead of volunteering, insurance, permits, costs for non-pre-owned hardware and software included and for location shoots that didn’t include their apartment and a nearby warehouse they probably got to borrow the use of for an essentially non-commercial use? Then it would cost a lot more.

            In short, Good on Them for making a short that was more enjoyable the three years worth of Heroes and hopefully earning themselves the chance at bigger projects….let’s just not be intellectually dishonest about it, that’s all.

          3. OK so the main beefs seem to be that its being compared to professional work that costs a lot by its very nature. This seems to be rubbing people up the wrong way. The other main beef seems to be the idea that the real costs haven’t been given.

            I wish I could comment on exactly what software and hardware was used but I know nothing more than everyone else that watched it. My beef was the assumption of guilt without evidence. I’m still not seeing any evidence of piracy and comments from people that “know” this was all done with pirated stuff doesn’t really seem worth commenting on further.

            I will comment on this idea that the video couldn’t be made for such low amounts, even if actors were giving time for self promotion in the real business world of film. I wouldn’t disagree with that. There have been some special exceptions where movies were made for incredibly tiny budgets. Primer comes to mind as one I personally loved. But I agree these are exceptions and when it comes to producing movies that are to be sold, there’s a world of difference between that and some friends getting together with a camera and just seeing what they can do for the fun of it.

            So clearly there is a distinction between pro work made for profit and students just playing around and or hoping to get noticed. So with that said, why are so many feeling the need to try and compare this to a pro production at all? It clearly is not. It’s really cheesy and you let a lot of that slide because on the whole, it’s all great fun to watch.

            I will take issue with the idea that something like Blender cannot be used to make absolutely stunning effects without spending huge amounts customising it. The list is growing of pro work done with it. It is now a force to be reckoned with and has a very bright future. I don’t use it myself, I cut my teeth on a 3D package called Cinema 4D and as is often the case with really complex software, you tend to stick with what you’re comfortable with. But I can see just how much more powerful Blender is in many ways compared to Cinema 4D, not so much in others. Here’s a few examples of Blender created work that was made on home PC’s.

            Cinema 4D can only dream of fluid simulation like this. The best we have is metaballs that are 10 years old now. Make no mistake, this is state of the art and completely free.

            fluid dragon

            Blender without any modifications. The emotional punch of Pixar right here.

   Pixar homage

            Please no more nonsense about how only high priced software can be used to make great effects.

          4. Why the f*** would you let it slide because it sucks?

            That makes zero sense. It is a moving picture; a film. I honestly don’t care whether Michael Bay, Stanley Kubrick, or my pet cat Fluffy made it; they are all judged by the same criterion. That you somehow think some standard is different due to a lack of funding is nuts.

            Additionally, your examples of things made with CG software; are you kidding me? Please tell me you’re joking. The blender movie, while decent, reminds me of what was a solid one man senior thesis in 2004; and what might fly for a decent one man real-time anim now. The particle physics on it? Might make it into a soulful Sundance film with one fx shot; but anything short of RealFlow is not making it into commercials or theater;

            By the way, the Big Boys still use Cinema 4d. Its incredibly versatile, cheap, and plays well with specialized software. Maya and XSI are still must-haves if you’re going for the big-screen, but 90% of titlecard 3d art you see on television is Cinema 4d all the way. Most of the work is done in compositing anyway.

            But honestly, sure stuff is made in Blender, but nothing good is; your examples are examples of 3d, not examples of good 3d. You know what an example of good 3d is? Try the oscar shortlist; name one of them that used Blender.

            Here’s the issue; when you say “I made this for $300” it means something. It means it cost $300 dollars, it means I could go buy something at Walmart for $300 (maybe a refurbed iPad) and trade it and be able to come up with the resources to make this video. If you can’t do that, then it cost more than $300. It cost time. There were resources brought to bare. Etc…

            Now you may say, okay, who cares; its a bunch of kids doing it out of passion.

            But you’re wrong.

            Every time any PROFESSIONAL, with access to a real cinematographer with credits, friends who work in this field, hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of camera, post equipment, etc… and who himself is credited as a digital retouching artist on Studio movies, etc… MAKES THE CLAIM THAT THEY ARE AN AMATEUR DOING SOMETHING ON A SHOE STRING BUDGET, THEY DO A DISSERVICE TO THE INDUSTRY, AND TO YOUNG PEOPLE EVERYWHERE.

            What happens when your niece realizes she cant even make this PoS for $300? She asks why, she wonders, why can’t I do visual fx like this? The answer is because she doesn’t use video copilot, but she doesn’t know that, she feels sad. She goes home. She cries. She stops making movies.

            And what happens if you are a pro, and you make something like this; and then someone finds out you made it for $300.

            Then you ask for a $10k day rate for directing a commercial. Is that going to fly? No, it isn’t.

            So, in conclusion; 1) these guys are hacks and not talented; I respect and appreciate them going out and attempting an ambitious project, but it looks like my reel when I was in highschool, and that was a decade ago.

            2) It hurts the industry; this is obvious.

            3) It hurts creativity in general. When you lie about what it costs to make a creative work, you lie about what you had to put into it; and you make other people think its easy.

            Well its not, real creative brilliance is HARD. I know, I try every day; and maybe 1 out of 10 projects even gets to the point where it could go on my reel. And this is full time, with budgets, with support, with technical knowledge.

            I shudder to think of the 14 year old kid with a DSLR who wants to make films; when I was doing it I could whip out 2hrs of AFX work and everyone would be like, holy crap. Now you have to top this crap to make a mark. But for $300; you can’t. Sure you can write a better story, sure you can direct better and get better actors, because all of that in this piece sucks. But if you want to impress your friends; then you’re damn screwed, because 10k worth of software/plugins (I saw CS4 syntheyes, sapphire, boris, and twixtor all used there as well as an NLE) will blow you out of the water.

            Don’t be an apologist for this crap; and don’t put Primer in the same sentence as this drivel. That was a stunning film. This, this is something I might’ve made in 2002 and had the sense never to show anyone.

          5. A lot of anger coming from you there and a lot of bullshit too. The fact you can look at any of the 3D work in those links and dismiss it shows you know nothing about what makes great animation. Everything after that is really not worth commenting on. You started from an idiotic position and just went off on one.

            Shame. I like a good debate but pandering to the ramblings of a mad man aren’t my cup of tea.

  15. Cash outlay $300 for props and eats (crews must be fed, even if it’s only munchies- that’s tradition). Borrowed equipment, borrowed or free software, borrowed locations or guerrilla. Crew, actors, postproduction do it for fun, experience, exposure. Probably shot on weekends.

    Digital video has drastically lowered the admission fee for making films. SFX, green screen, 3D can all be done cheaply. What can’t be done with budget, can be tried with ingenuity and a sufficiently wide circle of friends/accomplices.

  16. So can I assume this “Misfits” thing you all are talking about is a remake of the 1985 TV series “Misfits of Science”, about teenagers with superpowers, starring a young Courtney Cox?

  17. … and after looking, I would really like to watch Misfits, but I can’t because the streaming player knows I’m in the U.S. Bummer, but I can kind of see their point. Luckily it’s available on iTunes!

    ::follows iTunes link from channel 4 site::

    Nope, not available on iTunes if you’re in the U.S.

    Huh? I’m willing to pay to watch this but they’re blocking it in the U.S.? What on earth is the point of that?

  18. If you can convince a cast to take credit and not money, it’s still paying your crew. does that make this film any less of a film?

    My 720p camcorder cost $250, with the 8gig card, shipped. Is it top of the line? hell no, but it beats the hell out of my old Hi-8. Does that mean the movies I make with it aren’t movies?

    If I drop $50 on Cheetos and Mr. Pibb to get us through the weekend and invest all of my own time into making the effects properly and editing it, sure, I’m paying credit for slave labor, but I did have to convince myself to do it now didn’t I? If I convinced a friend or two to help me do the effects, again, for credit, does it make their work ANY LESS VALID?

    I’m sure you’ve seen Harlan Ellison’s “Pay The Writer” rant, and if not, go look it up, the man screams at the idea that they would ask him for an interview for the special features and expect him to do it for free.

    People in every field do work with no financial compensation, but more so in Hollywood. You know that screenwriters are often expected to do rewrites without payment? they are paid to write it, and then whoever is in charge says “I want you to do more work, and I don’t want to pay you for it.” and if you are new to the game, you just might anyway, for the love of the script, or, merely, because the only person that gets credit for writing the script is the LAST person to write the script.

    They made this film on $300, a lot of sweat, hopes and dreams.

    Hell, can you even rent an empty keg?

  19. The special effects in this were superb, as well as the set.

    The acting wasn’t bad either.

    My only complaint would be that I’m not sure why they even included the kid with no superpowers. If he was supposed to be comic relief, I didn’t get it. If he was supposed to be cool in his own right, I didn’t get that either.

  20. If this was only possible because of piracy, then we probably need more piracy.

    The fact that a bunch of kids could do a film at this level of quality is amazing, regardless of their resources (or lack thereof). Consider that 10 years ago it would take George Lucas and his multi-billion dollar company to produce that sort of stuff.

  21. So when a full size production studio cites the cost of making a movie, do they include the full value of everything they already own from previous productions (cameras, sets, office space, hardware and software)? No, they cite the BUDGET, how much they had to spend to have this movie made.

    Arguing semantics here is for people who want to be right at the expense of a commonly understood truth. If this was a post for a full length release done on $10,000 everybody would be praising the DIY ethics and can-do attitude of the little-guy producers. This short was fantastic, especially for a bunch of teens/young adults – why the hell have so many people taken time out of their day to say it’s not the greatest thing they’ve ever seen?

  22. If I were producing this, I would have budgeted a tripod in lieu of one or two sets of ninja-jammies. And a boom mike.

    Otherwise, yay Mike!

  23. Just goes to show what consumer equipment is capable of today… just add creativity, stir well and add spice to taste. Loved it! And every actor was better than Keanu Reaves, even the monster bug!

  24. If the angle the filmmakers are using to promote this is that it only cost them $300, that’s a shame.

    Let the work stand on its own. It shows a good amount of creativity, some humor, decent photography and a slightly different take on superheroes.

    But it’s pretty obvious that a real cost accounting would soar far beyond $300. And as the comments here show, people get caught up in that fiscal sleight-of-hand and talk more about that than the film itself.

    So, if this PR strategy was one that was selected by the producers, then they made a mistake.

  25. This reminds me of the first time I saw that Star Wars/Cops parody TROOPS. It showed that budget wasn’t a barrier to creativity. Somebody is going to give this guy a break and fund a feature. These are the makers!


Comments are closed.