Budgeting for your first endeavor into film writing for and roughing out your BUDGET for a low/no budget project.
Step 1: what can you afford to spend. got a number in mind? A number you can really pull together? good. lets assume you are a first time film maker ( you wouldn’t be reading this if you know how to budget )… There is a lot to putting a REAL budget together, but if you need to create a concept budget. something you can share with others to get the first steps going on your movie… Lets say you’ve begged, borrowed, worked, and pulled together $20,000 USD for your very first project.. Here a place to start. WRITE A SCREEN PLAY THAT FITS YOUR BUDGET of $20,000 don’t try to write a $20,000,000 movie with a budget of $20,000. Write to fit the budget. Take the $20,000 and put aside 10% ($2,000) for contingency/risk – the things that you forgot or the things that you run into in production and post. Take the remaining $18,000 and split it in half. $9,000 for above the line and $9,000 for below the line. Then split each again. $4,500 for Producing/writing/Directing – the people that guide and influence your project – the management and $4,500 for cast – your actors. Split the below the line in half again. Give 1/2 of the below the line to PRODUCTION – $4,500 and half to POST PRODUCTION – $4,500. In the PRODUCTION side split it in half again: $2,250 for camera/lights/sound and the techie stuff and half $2,250 for art/set design/locations/travel/craft services and all the other bits and pieces… Now on to POST PRODUCTION $4,500 split it in half again.. $1,750 for Picture editorial and Sound editorial/VFX/sound design/music/color and $1,750 for delivery (entry fees to festivals, making copies, making tapes, sending out to distributors and other people, marketing, sales ) … there is a basic budget for a no budget/low budget $20,000 project. Its a place to start and its scales pretty well for low/no budget gigs. So at least now you can estimate a starting place for you’re project budget… Please note, if you already have a screenplay that you want to shoot then simply take a look at the script and do your best to guess the cost of things… then use this basic method with different numbers… punch in these: $50K, $200K, $25K, $5K, $500K… as starting places until you dial in a number that gives your break down a set of numbers that feels right… its a good place to start until you can afford to get a line producer or a producer who knows the details of budgeting and how to pull together your final , real budget. remember that you have to shoot AND post AND deliver what you can afford to do. don’t spend the money all in one place and have none for all the other areas of your project.