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Old June 29th, 2003, 10:19 AM   #1
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Just how much is "low-budget"?

Network TV makes a big to-do about low-budget shows. Just how much do they actually pay for them?

A show like Farscape cost 1.5 million per ep, Stargate is close to $1.2mil. Anybody know how much those gawd-awful direct to video movies cost to make?

Where can one get figures for pricing on stuff like this?

I'm trying to figure out how much to budget and ask for when we start filming our pilot.
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Old June 29th, 2003, 10:31 AM   #2
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I have understood that anything under 3 million is low budget.

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Old June 29th, 2003, 10:51 AM   #3
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So what would $400 bucks be considered?
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Old June 29th, 2003, 11:38 AM   #4
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I would say "no-budget", and it's a beautiful playground to be in. You can make huge mistakes, learn and not have to worry. :)
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Old June 29th, 2003, 12:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Farscape cost 1.5 million per ep, Stargate is close to $1.2mil.
Are those prices in US or Canadian?

Low budget? The movie, "Rocky," (the first one) was low budget, and it won best picture of the year from what I can recall. Alien was another low budget movie, but it was very well played and made.
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Old June 29th, 2003, 12:14 PM   #6
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french connection was low budget, and so was halloween, infact nearly every amazing movie i have seen is low budget.

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Old June 29th, 2003, 01:04 PM   #7
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The first Dogme film "Festen" cost $1 million USD to make.
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Old June 29th, 2003, 05:20 PM   #8
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>"infact nearly every amazing movie i have seen is low budget."<

Zac i will have to agree with you on this one!
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Old June 29th, 2003, 08:59 PM   #9
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OK, what about TV SHOWS?

Just how much are these Reality-TV shows costing networks per episode?

I'm working with a group of volunteers and community actors for a sci-fi themed drama. All filmed on DV, against a greenscreen and all the post work is done by me and two other guys.

We're trying to figure out how much we should ask for if and when the regional affiliates pick us up for 13 episodes (their standard practice).

Their mandate to us: "keep it cheap like a reality-tv show."

We have no idea how much those things cost.

Is there a place where I can get comparative rates of what shows cost to make? I'm familiar with animation and film, but not TV shows...
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Old June 30th, 2003, 03:36 AM   #10
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There's a good magazine which we get over here in the UK called Broadcast. Most of the time in the magazine they run an article on new TV shows or shows that are making a new series.

I've just picked out the 6th June edition which on page 24 has an article about Bargain Hunt - a very popular tv show over here on BBC 1. The series is 10x30 minutes and each show costs about 40,000 to make, and has a crew of about 45 people with a six camera set-up when in the Auction room.

Hope this helps a little,

Ed
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Old June 30th, 2003, 12:28 PM   #11
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Any production that involves actors and special effects is bound to be more expensive than a reality-based show. You state that you are working with volunteer actors, but no one is going to want to fund a show where the talent is not being paid for the simple reason that you cannot guarantee that actors will commit to 13 episodes without being paid. Therefore, you have to determine the scale for the talent. Then go down the board with everyone including yourself who is involved to see how little you can pay them per episode. Check with the unions to see what the scale is. Salaries are a huge part of any budget. Work out your own budget and that will give you a good basis for what it might cost.
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Old June 30th, 2003, 03:19 PM   #12
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Keith pretty much has it right: tally up all the elements involved, determine costs for each, then create a budget based on that.

Special effects can be expensive in terms of equipment, expertise and above all, time. Be aware that if you're doing a lot of matte work it'll require a considerable amount of computer horsepower to render the shots. You'll have to plan them out carefully to know what you'll need to shoot them and also how much time it'll take to get them done on schedule in post-production. Check out what crewoftwo.com did. I'm amazed at how good mattes can look even when shot on the DV format.

If you're fully equipped with everything you need, that can cut rental costs for shooting the pilot. But when you actually enter production, you'll need to figure those costs back in, even if you're still using your own gear. The reason is that you'll need to recoup the cost of operation (maintenance, upgrades, etc).

We're doing the same for our own pilot. Everyone's working on spec for now. Rental costs are kept to a minimum because I already have the gear. But if we get air time and if we get accepted as a series, then the other costs all have to get added up: talent, equipment, crew, transportation, office space, supplies, insurance. etc. In our case we'll pay for the air time and hustle up the sponsorships. But to do this we'll have to know exactly what the show will cost and what income we'll need to cover them and generate a decent profit to keep things going.

Speaking of reality shows and insurance, some of them are getting seriously sued, including Candid Camera. Make sure y'all are sufficiently covered.

Good luck with the show!

Dean Sensui
Base Two Productions
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