Lawrence Bender Helped Keep Reservoir Dogs’ Budget Under Control

Reservoir Dogs consistently gains a mention for changing people’s perspectives on how screenwriting can be done. The basic narrative concept established many decades before was turned on its proverbial head when Reservoir Dogs hit art house screens in 1992. Quentin Tarantino deserves tremendous credit for his writing ability. Lawrence Bender should receive cheers, too. Aspects of the screenwriting worked in concert with the ability to produce the film at a reasonable budget. Without the guiding hand of a skilled producer such as Lawrence Bender, Reservoir Dogs’ budget might have skyrocketed upwards. The impact of an out-of-control budget on Tarantino’s career can’t be overstated.

One of the intriguing aspects of Reservoir Dogs involves the brutal diamond heist appearing offscreen. This changes the dramatic and narrative structure of the film immensely. By keeping the shootout off the screen, audiences must listen to what the characters say about the events. This helps the dialogue-heavy film. Reservoir Dogs succeeds thanks to the unique characters and sharp dialogue. Eliminating the shootout gives audiences a reason to hang on what the characters say.

Such a decision wasn’t exclusive to a screenwriter’s desire to dazzle viewers. A major shootout between crooks and the police in a jewelry store couldn’t be done without spending significant money. $1.5 million was all the production house had to invest in the making of Reservoir Dogs.

Lawrence Bender understood the movie was only going to gain a limited release. Therefore, the budget couldn’t rise to the point recouping the investment would be impossible. Although Bender’s background combines the unusual mix of a formal education in civil engineering and a professional career in dance, he understood how to keep an eye on a motion picture’s bottom line. Such wisdom came long before his eventual Oscar nominations.

Reservoir Dogs needed to make its initial investment back. A “money loser” wouldn’t exactly lend help to Quentin Tarantino and Lawrence Bender’s careers. Reservoir Dogs, while an outstanding film in its own right, mainly served as an audition for bigger films for the director and producer. Why would a studio hire people who produced a costly financial failure?