Quick budget reference for a back-into lo/no budget indie film project.

here ya go… I made you a quick reference reality check back-into-it from how much you can raise budget document for Indie feature film work. The numbers will show you what you’ll end up having for various “buckets” for your project and how small they get and what you really need based on reality… Its a decent example for you to start your budget efforts….

Georgias back-into indie budget

Are you making an Indie feature and planning on distribution? Quality Control and passing with your project. What do I need for my file to pass QC

Are you making an Indie feature and planning on distribution? Quality Control and passing with your project. What do I need for my file to pass QC
Did you ever wonder what QC really means and how it affects you and your project? To start with you film might look great but when the QC people at the distributor or network take a look things can change in an instant. The first thing you need to do when you are working on your project starting in preproduction and finishing in delivery is to make sure you get a set of specifications with as much detail as possible to assure you are capable and prepared to meet or exceed deliverable requirements. Even if you don’t know yet which company, if any, will pick up your project for distribution or for broadcast… you need to be aware of some of the principle issues. I’ve blogged before about specs and deliverables and you can find additional information here in my blogs at Stage32 and on Gearslutz.com. Let’s chat a moment about QC… When you deliver a project to a distributor or broadcast company your project will be check for a number of things entailing both Video and Audio. Here are some things you need to be ready to setup or include in your project delivery. SLATE: in the front of your project you need to provide a slate. A slate is simply a black data card with information concerning your file. It normally runs for about 10 seconds and starts exactly at 00:59:50:00. It includes data such as the project name, and associated information like the production company, or contact for questions. It includes the run time, First frame of action ( FFOA ) and Last frame of action ( LFOA ). It also includes the run time of the project ( normally starting at 01:00:00:00 ( the 1 hour mark ) A side note; if you are delivering in Reels you’ll start each reel at the hour mark. as in reel 1 starts at 01:00:00:00, reel 2 starts at 02:00:00:00, reel 3 starts at 03:00:00:00 and so forth. If you’re delivering as a single file you’ll start the FFOA at 01:00:00:00. there are other pieces of data added to the slate as well. The format of the file, the encoding data ( if any ), codex utilized for examle PRORES 4444 or BLACKMAGIC 10 Bit etc… then the bit depth of the picture the physical format ( Aspect ratio ) of the image 16×9, 1.78:1, 2.35:1 etc. You’ll also provide the frame rate and bit depth of the image and format such as 1080p… You’ll also provide the Two pop data. 2-pop you ask? The two-pop is a visual and audible marker for synchronization. The 2-pop and a tail pop if you provide one, will be a visual SINGLE frame of white, or color bars and a corresponding SINGLE frame of audio. Normally the audio is a 1 Khz tone set at -20db. The two pop is always at 00:59:58:00, 2 seconds before FFOA (start of picture) the tail pop is normally a few frames after the LFOA at the end of the file. The two pop tends to be something everyone wants… the tail pop is more of an optional item. You’ll also provide the audio data if you’ve imbedded audio in the file such as bit depth 24bit, 16, bit sample rate 48Khz, 96Khz, and the format of the audio tracks. LoRo – Left only Right only, LtRt – Left total Right total ( this is an LCRS encoded stereo file ) or any number of 5.1 formats and any encoding of the audio DTS, Dolby Digital, etc. Once the head is set up correctly… normally the SLATE, some black, the 2-pop some black we move into the project itself… FFOA until LFOA and then the tail pop.
Almost all distributors and broadcasters have QC and it starts with the above data and then moves into the project. Within the project QC will look for audio and video issues and conformance to deliverable requirements. In the audio side they will check for audio peaks, audio RMS or average levels, then dialogue levels and average. One of the tests is that your DIALOGUE reads out as an average -24 LEQm level ( LEQm is Db level of the DIALOGUE ONLY audio measured from the beginning of the project to the end of the project using a moving “window” of time. ) They will check for audio pops and clicks and other problems, They’ll check sync, they’ll check to see of every “lip flap” from an actor has dialogue and is properly sunk with picture. DOn’t worry if you are making an artistic decision, and you have a location that doesn’t have dialogue but you see the actor “speaking”… you are allowed some artistic license. They’ll check to assure any encoding is done accurately and properly and they’ll check for peak and to assure you have no digital “overs” ( you never want to hit -0 db on a digital project ) set a hard limiter for -2 or -3 db to be safe. they’ll check to make sure your audio tracks are labeled correctly and the panning is set correctly. On the Video side, they’ll check for Lifted blacks, Chroma peak, Luminance levels, Black levels, Video peaks, Video average level, Blanking and whether or not you’ve imbedded timecode and if so is it accurate. Once these are checked QCV will move on to things like DEAD PIXELS, BLACK FRAMES, FLASH FRAMES, INVERTED FRAMES, Noise on the image, dirt or other issues with the quality of the image. They’ll mark every single location that TEXT is visible. ( you’ll generally need to provide a TEXTLESS ( no text ) version of the project. If you have foreign dialogue in your project ( dialogue other than your native language ) QC will tag every location and require either subtitles or an explanation as to why they are not present. All of these things are JUST the actual file you deliver… so make sure you check these before you deliver… Because it start to cost a lot of money to fix things after the fact. The further into post and delivery the more expensive the repair… Also note that you’ll have to make sure all of this QC is done in hose or by a qualified lab PRIOR to delivery for ALL MEDIA delivered, since the distributor may charge you for rechecking material and any costs they incur in the process…. QC starts in Pre-Production… Check those cameras and make sure they don’t have any dead/stuck pixels and make sure your camera and sound team know what they are doing or it might cost you dearly on delivery or even get your project dropped for a deal. cheer geo

Budgeting for a low budget Feature? read this.

A friend posted: How do I create a budget for a low/no budget flick…for a low/no budget indie: 10 or so crew, from DP to grip, $50 to $500 / day… depending on how many and how close film crew friends you may have and how hungry they are, and willing to work on a “freebe”. So plan on between $500 to $5000 / day for 10 low/no budget crew… then add $15 to $25/day/head for food and craft services… so for 10 crew its another $200ish per day.. average indie film takes between 10 and 20 days to shoot. so you end up with a number between $5,000 and $50,000 for crew, $2,000 to $4,000 for food, and then you have to add costs for locations, cast ( non SAG or SAG and it’s additional costs) ( assume SAG NEW MEDIA at least $100/day/actor plus 16.5% for pension add( call it $120/day) ) so if you have 5 actors and the rest ( maybe 10 others ) are $50/day friends…
For the mid sized 15 day shoot you have another $10K to $15K for actors, production insurance at around $5K (assuming no stunts), Add around $2500/stunt for a working number (including stunt coordinator/up tick in insurance, and materials) travel, lodging ( if any ) at $150/day for a two person room, props maybe $2500, on camera vehicles $25 to $100/day, grip and electric equipment $200/day, camera equipment $100 to $250 / day, production van or 2 another $100/day, makeup $500, wardrobe $500, and general expenses $2500… then add to the production budget 10% for contingency.
Then on to post where you’ll need to cover an editor, sound designer, composer, colorist, VFX editor, re-recording engineer at around $250/day to $750/day each unless you can get friends to help… and assuming the production budget we’ve talked about here you’ll spend at least $25,000 to $50,000 finishing, prepping for the distributor deliveries, and paperwork.. simple… $50K to $150K for production and $25K to $50K for post for a typical low/no budget gig. and if your editor is a kid with minimal experience you’ll end up having to hire someone to fix it and you’ll need to pay a colorist… Do you know what color correction costs? guess…. nope Wrong. close to $450/day and a couple 3 days to properly color correct and shade a feature film. Of course you expect your picture editor to do that as part of their pay right?
also, don’t forget the 4 to 6 four terabytes disks you’ll need for media and the production media costs as well… that’s another $2K in disks and materials alone.
we haven’t even added in the cost of a script, the copyrighting and WGA submission, or E&O insurance, and the costs for all the deliverable materials for distributors, like a production photographer, a scripty, documentation, lawyer for all the script, cast, crew, location, product placement, and general contracts, the LLC in which you will make your film and other costs of running the film project on the business side.
In REALITY, your movie will cost you what you can afford to spend and unless you’re very very careful and have a lot of favors you can call in, it will look exactly like what you spent on it. SO, unless you write a script to FIT and specific budget, the right way is to breakdown the script, figure out what it will REALLY cost based on the script you wrote. Then figure out how much cash you can really raise from various sources. Then do the painful work of cutting down the script until you can shoot and post it for the money you can raise and the favors you can call in. oh, and don’t forget the cost of creating a real hollywood poster from a real hollywood poster company ($3K and the best spent $3K from the budget), and material to get it sold and delivered, or it’s just an ego piece that you’ll send to festivals for film maker masturbation and a couple cute little trophies to impress your friends, instead of making any money with it.
Another way is to figure out what you HAVE to spend based on the money you can raise is: Assume $50K for a no budget film: then $25K for production and $25K for post. Production side: $12.5 K for cast and producers/director/insurance and $12.5K for crew and expenses… take the $12.5K above the line and split that into 2, so $6K for actors and $6K for producers/director. below the line $12.5K is split between $6K for crew and $6K for equipment/locations/props/wardrobe/makeup,etc and $6K for food/hotels/equipment and the remainder of the production portion is for contingency.
The $25K for post breaks down to $6K for picture, $6K for sound, $6K for color/vfx/misc, and $6K for delivery with the remainder for contingency. As you continue to break things down, you quickly learn that you have buckets for things that are soooo small that you have to really call in favors at this budget level .
for example. sound alone: $6K… that’s $2K for sound design, $2K for dialogue and ADR and $2K for mixing ( did I bother to tell you that a dub stage at friends and family rates is around $1500 / day ? how about picture, $6K right? so that’s $1K for DIT/log/capture/doc/location editorial, $3K for the edit, and $2K for second and polished delivery. Assuming the edit of a feature takes 40 days… that’s 40 days of work for $5K = $15.00 per hour. The rate for a real editor is $50 to $150 / hour…
How about the crew? remember that $6K for crew… so we have 10 crew for 10 days ? or about $60/day or $5.00 / hour… crew run around $100/hr for a DP down to $25/hr for a grip and at least minimum wage for “help”.
and don’t forget all the days and work in Pre-Production that no one is getting paid for…. I don’t even want to think of how these extra days affect the actual bottom line payment/hour of work… ugh….
.. so keep that in mind as well. as you are asking people to work basically as slave labor for a puff piece or an ego piece… and don’t tell a crew or post person they’ll get “deferred”, a good pro will laugh and hang up the phone, knowing “deferred” really means ZERO pay. and don’t promise “backend” of any kind because you’ll probably never sell your movie unless you’ve got pre-sales before you start production….
The reality of life is 1. You can’t make a professional grade distributable feature length movie for under $50K when the dust settles…. 2. You can make one for $50K or a bit more.. IF.. you have a lot of friends and call in favors, and you absolutely know what you are doing… 3. The minimum you can, straight up hire, and create a paid-for feature length project is around $100K…

Sound Design / Re-Recording

Visual Effects / CGI