Probably one of the most daunting things any independent filmmaker has to deal with is finding funding for projects. This is why many new filmmakers opt to make what I would call micro budget features (films with production budgets in the tens of thousands). I've done several short films to date, and all of those have been projects that my fellow producer Andrew Gilbert and I have funded ourselves. I would definitely classify them as micro budget shorts. But you can do that with short films. Most often the main expenses are some rented gear, a location or two, and food. Everything else is either borrowed, donated, or deferred. In our case, we've done a lot of deferred deals with cast and crew looking to gain more experience in filmmaking. In those cases, the act of being involved in the project tends to be payment enough with the added bonus that should the film manage to turn a profit, there could be some payment down the road.
But what about feature films? Can you do this with features?