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Old July 28th, 2008, 08:51 PM   #1
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Small reality show budget guidelines?

Tried running some searches on the forums, but came back with nothing, so here goes!

My boss somehow got the idea to produce a reality show for one of the local channels up here featuring some folks losing weight over the course of 12 weeks. A specific number of episodes hasn't been decided on just yet, but there will be a minimum of 8 episodes running 22-minutes each. My job will be to shoot and edit all of these episodes, in addition to the fun stuff like creating a comprehensive graphics package, custom transitions, commercials for the show, etc.

Now, my question revolves around budgeting. Right now, my boss is estimating about $4k per episode. I think that's very low, considering the amount of work and effort that's going to be put into it. Now, I know my way around TV commercial territory, but I've never worked on a project of this scale. I can speculate as to how long it would take me to shoot, edit, create graphics, and all that, but does anyone out there have any words of wisdom from past experience with this sort of thing? If not, could you help point me in the right direction so I could find some examples of real-life numbers I can present to my boss
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Old July 29th, 2008, 07:38 AM   #2
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I can't point you to real life numbers for your location but I have an idea of the amount of work involved and some of the costs.

Off the top of my head with non scripted I'd reckon you are looking at a MINIMUM 5 day turn around on the post side of things, and that's assuming you've got a decent tape logger/director doing fairly worthwhile paper edits/notes.

I'm assuming you've got the facilities and expertise to online, sound mix, handle dubs and mastering in house?

Shooting per ep could be between 2 and 5 days worth of work, depending on how it's setup, not including pre-pod and tape logging/'scripting'.

Graphics - assuming you know what you are doing a decent titles, end credit sequence and baselines package, minimum 3-4 days. A week easy if you are not a pro at this. Promos/Cut downs for Ads etc, if not being done by the broadcaster, a 1-3 days.

so you are looking at at least 72 days worth of work just for the shooting and editorial, without graphics and promos.

Add those in and we are looking at probably 80 days plus easy.

Assuming a 5 day work week, thats 4 months work for one person. Did I mention those are almost certainly 10-12 hour days.

At 4K an ep, thats $32K and we already have 80 days labour fees minimum, and we haven't covered - insurance (public liability, neg insurance, equipment insurance, vehicle insurance), tape stock, petrol, stationary, lighting, camera, post prod expenses, office rent/lease, permission/application/location fees, music licensing/composing, effects library purchases, taxes, accounting, workers comp, producers fees, prizes for contestants (or the weeks spent chasing sponsorship), research, legal fees etc.

Theshow could be done quicker with more people, but the second you ad more than a camera-director and allin one editor to the mix you labour costs begin to increase almost exponentially.

Yeah, I'd say that $4k an ep is a bit shy of the mark. :)

Somewhere between 5 and 10 times that and you'll have breathing room.

Double it and it might be feasible, if low budget.
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Old July 29th, 2008, 05:55 PM   #3
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Craig's right.

This type of scope of work at this budget level is a recipe for complete disaster.

The show WILL NOT be economically sustainable.

If it gets done at all, it will be because one or more people will pour their heart and soul into slogging through massive amounts of effort for woefully inadequate compensation.

It's a lot like saying, "Here's 10 grand - now go build me a 3 bedroom 2 bath house."

Asking alone implies the person doing the asking has NO CLUE about this industry.

Run away. Run fast.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old July 29th, 2008, 06:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Davis View Post
The show WILL NOT be economically sustainable.

If it gets done at all, it will be because one or more people will pour their heart and soul into slogging through massive amounts of effort for woefully inadequate compensation...
I completely agree with both of you. At this moment, I'm full-time hourly employee for this business, so I don't really have the option of saying that I'm not available. That's why I'm trying to find some real-world examples and figures. If I can present hard facts and numbers that show all that goes in to reality TV, it will hopefully bring people to their senses about this whole thing instead of them looking at me like I've completely lost my sense of adventure.
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