Walt Disney said “If you can dream it, you can do it,” but how much will it cost? Budgeting a film can be an intimidating and unappealing task to take on (especially so early in the process), but is an essential aspect of making your creative dream a reality. Whether you want to hire a professional, or tackle it on your own, the budgeting process is worth the time. It not only keeps costs low and efficient, but also gives insight into the details people often overlook.
Whether it is a $10,000 or $300,000,000 film, the budgeting process is very similarly structured. Break your budget down into three categories: Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production. It is also crucial to account for the P&A (Print and Advertising) costs in your budget. Understanding where and when your money is going will not only help you keep organized, but is required for almost all investors.
Pre-Production is the first stage of the film making process, and typically lasts 2-3 months. Typical costs associated with this stage are salaries, acquiring talent, forming legal documents, constructing a set, costumes and props, equipment, and transportation. The crucial foundation of the Pre-Production stage is the script. The script should be fully completed in this stage, fully reviewed, critiqued, and edited multiple times to ensure a solid final draft. Before moving on to the Production stage, revise your budget and schedule.
After the Pre-Production stage is complete, the backbone of the film will be in place and you will be ready to start shooting. The Production stage typically lasts 2-3 months. If you hired a director, cinematographer, and technical crew, this stage will be relatively simple. Only creative input, supervision, and assistance will be necessary. If hiring professionals is not in the budget, more creativity and skills will be required. Make sure to budget for catering on set, transportation, lodging, location rental, repairs, and insurance. Revise your budget and schedule before you move on to the Post-Production stage.
The Post Production is usually the longest stage of the film making process, typically taking 3-4 months. After the completion of the Production process, the director, producer, and editor cut the movie to its target length and prepare the final product for the addition of sound, music and any special effects. Make sure you have filmed more than enough material, because it can be very difficult and expensive to reshoot. Professionals and/or equipment to edit raw footage with quality can be very expensive, but will make a massive difference in the final product. Typical costs incurred in this stage include editing workstations, special effects software, sound mixing programs, and test screening costs. Revise your budget once again after you have a completed product.
Print and Advertising
Print and Advertising costs depend vastly on how broadly you would like to distribute your film, but can cost even more than the entire Pre to Post-Production stages combined. There are several ways to distribute your film ranging from theatrical releases to DVD releases to Video on Demand releases. P&A costs prepare your film to be distributed, whether it is Movie posters, putting the film on DVD and creating a cover, or a short trailer to promote the film. Film Festival submissions are often a good way to introduce and promote a film. Consider spending money on the P&A, because no matter how good your film is, it will not make money if no one knows about it.
It is often a good idea to budget an extra 10% to make room for unexpected costs that may arise. It is better to have money left over, than to run out before you have finished P&A and distribution. Another aspect to consider is negotiating salary costs by giving the people involved percentage ownership of profits to reduce up front costs.
Once you have completed your budget, and understand the entire process of making the film, you are ready to start finding investors, and start your Pre-Production stage.
Consulting and Advising services are offered by Princebury Productions & Media