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Old October 14th, 2006, 03:07 PM   #1
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How much does Super 16mm, or 35mm film cost?

Suppose that I have written what I feel is a very strong character based script, and that I have a few very good actors in place, however I do not know anything about cameras. I know what I want frames to look like. I know what shots I want. In my mind, I can picture the entire movie from start to finish.

What will it cost me to hire an intelligent DOP who has worked on films before, and to shoot the film in either Super 16mm or 35mm? Include complete costs to develope and edit the film anad the sound track.

So total cost of DOP, his crew, renting the cameras, the lights, the film, developing and editing of the film and soundtrack, and the final copy.

Exclude the costs of music licenses, actors, sets, food.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 03:25 PM   #2
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It will cost a lot. :)

But it's hard to give you even a "ballpark" guess without knowing what your estimated shooting ratio is, how long the movie itself will be, whether you're doing basic or complicated lighting setups, and any number of other things. The cost of hiring a DP will vary wildly from one DP to the next, depending on his/her experience level and the market norms in your area, among other things. Someone fresh out of film school might be dirt cheap, whereas someone like Harris Savides will cost a heck of a lot more. :)

My advice would be to figure out as many of these kinds of details as you can and then do a little research. Take a (informed) guess at how many rolls of film you think you'll need and then give Kodak a call. Find a lab in your area and look at their rates. And so on.

You'll have to do your own research on this, because even the research itself can be a lot of work, and I don't think you can expect anyone here to do it for you. :)
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Old October 14th, 2006, 03:46 PM   #3
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A friend of mine did a short recently, shot in 16mm, and pulled it in for under $100,000, which I thought was very good. But in trying to keep the shooting ratio and location time to a minimum, he found himself suffering in the edit suite for lack of appropriate cutaways and action cuts. I should say I suffered in the edit suite for lack of shots.

In addition to film stock, processing and transfer to HD or Digibeta, you have shipping cost to and from the lab, cost of transferring and syncing the audio, and cost of video transfers to whatever format you are going to edit on, cost of editing, then cost of post to conform the HD or Digibeta. That's just a partial list. Also on location, you have the cost of a soundman and assistant (to load and unload magazines), plus the cost of equipment rental, sound equuipment, camera, lights, support, etc.

The best thing to do is look around in your area for an experienced film producer who can do a script breakdown for you and figure a cost range; or maybe you can find an experienced cameraman who can budget out the technical parts for you. But you need a person who is experienced enough to know what can be accomplished within a day and within a specified shooting ratio. Then add at least 20% to whatever figure they come up with for a contingency fee, rain days, excessive shooting, overtime, etc. Maybe more if you're using unprofessional actors and non-controllable locations.

There are several books available that can give you lists of everything to consider. You should be able to find a pro who can budget the thing out for you and not charge you too much for his time, or who will deduct the cost from his fee if you hire him on the production. It's a lot of work to budget out a feature, and you'll have to have a pretty tight script before it can be done.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 03:49 PM   #4
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Yeah. So far wikipedia has been the most help, spam free.

The film would be about 1:30. The shooting ratio would probably by about 15 to 1. Dunno? Ive never shot anything. Before we began to shoot, I would have explained to the camerman which shots I want and he would have a very, very good idea what I wanted the film to look like. I might even consider paying an artist to make some undetailed storyboards.

Before we went to film, I would have had the actors and actress practicing extensively. I live in Thailand and I am semi-fluent in Thai language. My plan down the road is to discover the perfect actors and actress for each role in my film. I am basically looking for people who I feel are these characters in real life. Because things are cheap here, and the actors/actress will likely be young, I can pay them a reasonable amount to really, really work hard so that we are very prepared before filming begins.

The script that I have written, is character oriented and similar to Days of Being Wild by Wong Kar Wai.

I should be able to raise 100K USD.

One problem is that this movie will rely heavily on being aesthetically pleasing. Wong Kar Wai had Christopher Doyle behind the camera :(... Although it is hard to shoot Maggie Chung or Zhang Ziyi and not have them look jaw-dropping stunning.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 03:58 PM   #5
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The best way to make a successful low budget film is to write a character driven plot and to find very good undiscovered actors and actress.

I think that many people approach filmmaking as a hobby, and just try to make movies with their neighbor or little brother. I do not see this as a hobby, but more so, away of life.

I have no problem making paying my actors $15/hr to practice 20 hours/day for 3 months before we start shooting, and to make them hate my guts by the time the film is finished.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:03 PM   #6
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If you were to film 30 minutes with a paid DOP as I described, would the price be roughly 1/3 the cost of shooting 1:30? Or would it be more than 1/3?

It would be possible to film my script in chapters, and it would seem like a good idea to do it this way to be safe.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:04 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean J. Manning
I should be able to raise 100K USD.
My guess, Thai economy aside, is that you'll probably need much more than $100k. :)

Is there any particular reason why video isn't worth considering? With all the money you'd be saving on film stock / processing / transfer / etc. / etc., you could afford to spend more money on lighting & grip equipment rental, your DP, and so on. It's entirely likely that you'll have a more polished final product on video, because you can spend your money on the really important things. Not to mention the fact that your audience won't care what you shot it on if the material is engaging and presented well.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:19 PM   #8
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For a good DP who can shoot film or high end video, expect $200 - 500 USD per 10 hour day. It varies widely, and can also be dependant on what you have to pay them, if they're really interested in doing the movie, and a whole bunch of other factors. That's the rates over here in the US though, so over there you may have some big differences in price.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:24 PM   #9
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I read somewhere that 10 hours of Super 16mm Film was about $12K to develope. 15 to 1 shooting ratio would put these costs around $30K for the film. I wasa under the impression that $100K would be enough to cover all costs.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:25 PM   #10
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The majority of the film would be shot indoors.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:33 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean J. Manning
I read somewhere that 10 hours of Super 16mm Film was about $12K to develope. 15 to 1 shooting ratio would put these costs around $30K for the film. I wasa under the impression that $100K would be enough to cover all costs.
Processing is only one tiny chunk of the overall expense, though. As noted, you'll also have to pay for transfer to video for editing (unless editing film, which leads to a whole slew of other costs and problems), pay for negative cutting if you want to release on film, pay for prints, pay a DP and assistant (maybe two or more--clapper/loader & focus puller are pretty standard), pay grips and gaffers, rent lighting equipment, rent camera equipment, pay a sound man (and possibly an assistant), rent sound equipment, feed your cast and crew, pay for music rights, buy insurance, and so on and on and on. Every one of these things is going to be more expensive than you seem to imagine at this point.

Think of how all of these costs can add up very quickly, and then subtract thousands and thousands of dollars for the film-related costs themselves, and you might begin to see how you'll do a better overall job on the piece if you're not spending tens (or potentially hundreds) of thousands of dollars on the medium itself. There's a reason why $100k features are relatively unheard of. It's not impossible to do, but it isn't easy and you're going to need to find ways to get many extremely essential things for free. Free things are rarely as good as things that you pay for. Shoot on video and you have tens of thousands of dollars more to spend on more experienced crew, cast, more and better lighting, and so on and so on.

There's also a reason why Hollywood can still spend $50,000,000 on a feature shot on video. The costs of the people involved and overall production values are more important than and can be much more significant than the cost of working with the medium. Unless you have an unlimited budget, though, the savings you'll get from working with video can make a massive difference. Do you want a feature that is shot on film but suffers from costs being cut on the really important things, or do you want an engaging and interesting piece of work that was shot on video? At this budget level, those are pretty much your choices--unless you get really, really, really, really lucky.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:45 PM   #12
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Isnt indoors going to make it very hard to shoot with video?
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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:50 PM   #13
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You might want to look at the 2/3" CCD camera route. Cheapest way to go would be the SDX900. You could go tapeless with the HDX900, HDCAM with the F900 or F950. The higher end digital cameras like the D20, Viper, Genesis, etc. dont really save you as much as people say, I would call the savings marginal at best in a professional workflow.



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Old October 14th, 2006, 04:56 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean J. Manning
Isnt indoors going to make it very hard to shoot with video?
Why would it? If light sensitivity is the issue, turn on some lights. :)

Video is shot indoors all over the world every day. In fact, you're usually better off shooting video indoors than outdoors anyway, because lighting is actually controllable indoors and so you have more options at your disposal when it comes to dealing with video's limited dynamic range as compared to film.
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Old October 14th, 2006, 07:07 PM   #15
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"What will it cost me to hire an intelligent DOP who has worked on films before, and to shoot the film in either Super 16mm or 35mm? Include complete costs to develope and edit the film anad the sound track. "

based on the above info ..
i know i could get it done for $1.5 million ( 35mm) .. $1.2 mil (super 16)...
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