Originally shot silent with a budget of $13,000. The budget went up an additional $20,000 when the actors dubbed their lines in a studio. A March 1994 retrospective on the film in "Film Comment" fixes the total budget at $40,000.
Stanley Kubrick disowned the film soon after its release and wanted to make sure it was never seen again by not re-releasing the print. What he didn't know was that Kodak, when making a print for a film, had a policy of making an extra print for its archives. It is this one that survives and where the DVD-R and VHS bootleg prints come from.
This was thought to be a lost film, and one researcher, Mark Carducci, had suggested that Stanley Kubrick destroyed the negative following the death of Joseph Burstyn, the film's distributor. Bootleg copies abound, however, and there is one (legal) print in all of the Americas. It is located in the Kodak archives in Rochester, NY; the Stanley Kubrick estate allows viewing of the film with the provisos that it is screened by individuals (not groups), that the print never leaves the building in which it is housed and that it cannot be duplicated in whole or in part.
The original camera negative was discovered in the late 1980s in the holdings of a now-defunct film storage facility in Puerto Rico, and was acquired by the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, in 1993 (how the negative got to Puerto Rico in the first place remains a mystery. .The OCN is being kept at the Library's National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, VA.
After Kubrick's assistant, Leon Vitali, discovered a 35mm print of "Fear and Desire" in Stanley's private screening room, Kubrick made him promise that he would never watch it. To this day, Leon Vitali still has not seen the movie and reassures that "Stanley really, really hated that movie. He absolutely loathed it."