Cost this guy $300 to make, now he's being given $30MILLION from Sam Raimi to make a big screen version.

Move over 'War of the Worlds'

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A MONTH ago, Federico Alvarez was an obscure movie hobbyist who made the occasional film for fun. Today the 31-year-old is the US film industry's latest directing sensation, thanks to a five-minute internet film he made for the Hollywood equivalent of pocket change.

Alvarez came to the attention of US film studios after the unexpected success of his short film Panic Attack, which cost just $US300 ($338) to make, and gained sudden and unexpected exposure via the internet.

Now the Uruguayan filmmaker has been chosen to direct a $US30 million Hollywood movie: a feature-length, bells-and-whistles version of his viral internet hit.

Panic Attack, less than five minutes in length, is an entertaining and imaginative rendering of the destruction of Alvarez's native Montevideo by angry, giant robots. Last month he posted the short film -- rich with inventive special effects and offbeat cinematography -- on YouTube. Within 24 hours, it had been seen by more than 500,000 people.

He posted the film online on a Thursday and by Friday he was receiving emails from Hollywood managers at such studios as DreamWorks, Warner, Fox and Sony. An all-expenses-paid trip to Hollywood was followed by a dream contract.

"They sent me emails that said, `Now that we've seen what can be done with $300, let's see what you can do with $30m'," he says with a laugh.