The makers of a critically acclaimed martial arts film shot for less than £10,000 say the plaudits will count for nothing if the film is a commercial flop.

Film makers Phil Hobden and Ross Boyask have been praised by the likes of The New York Times and Empire for their self-funded movie Left for Dead.

But what they really want is a lowbudget cult smash, like The Blair Witch Project, which will inspire and pave the way for other independent film makers.

The film makers used loans, credit cards and overdrafts to bankroll the film, which has already made a small profit through general release abroad.

Mr Hobden, from Pevensey Bay, near Eastbourne, said: "You just don't make independent martial arts movies in this country - it hadn't been done before.

"But since we made Left for Dead there have been six or seven others made in a similar vein.

"If we can make some money out of it, there's hope for them.

"We have distributed in more countries than Sex Lives of the Potato Men, which cost much, much more than our film and was given funding."

He added: "Genre films, action or martial arts are sneered at in this country. You won't get any money for anything that isn't considered cinemaquality release.

"In the US there is more appreciation of genre movies as money-makers for the industry. Mega-budget Hollywood movies might rake in millions but they cost millions to make and they often fail to make a profit."

"Most of the reviews have been positive.

I won't say all but 95 per cent have been in favour but we want the commercial success to back that up.

"We want to inspire a movement where private investors get behind small indie filmmakers like ourselves so we can make movies on a standalone basis."

The film was shot exclusively in Sussex and features landmarks such as the King Alfred Centre in Hove and the derelict cement works near Shoreham.

Mr Hobden and Mr Boyask, who run Brighton-based film production company Modern Life?, secured two screenings at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004.

Since then it has been distributed in 14 countries. The film was released to rent in Britain yesterday and next month it will be released to buy.