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Old October 21st, 2007, 07:34 PM   #1
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Beating Back The Budget

I mentioned at the and of another thread that I was, comparitively, spending an obscene amount on short films - given that people are doing features on the same amount of cash.

I'm in Australia, the western bit, and we recently applied for a grant that had $5000 in money and $5000 equip hire. Haven't heard back from them tey, but we had to submit a budget.

Well, we were well under the 5k in equip hire. A local uni is donating their sound suite for our use, but we're still just under 5k in money...
...for a 10-15 min film!

With our current spending, none of the crew are being paid. Cast are getting the local industry standard (based on the Actors Equity Website) - 6 days of shooting is costing us $2,251 for our actors.

There are some items we budgeted in because we didn't know we could get them for free, and this will help drive down costs. Anyone have any other suggestions?
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Old October 21st, 2007, 08:12 PM   #2
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Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Texas
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Without knowing your plot or specifics about your script...find really bored people! On a more serious note, check out junk yards, thrift stores, garage sales and the like for props and wardrobe. Shooting on mini-dv always helps. Think of using a less-expensive editing suite since it is just a short. Since you have to pay your actors, think of using crew members in the actor's place, or having actors play double roles. Monty Python-esque. Try using only one camera.
Can you post more information on what you are spending money on? Cutting costs is easy once you start making phone calls to local people and businesses asking for sponsorship not donations. More specifics would help people find things for you to cut costs with.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 10:21 AM   #3
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Location: Brookline, MA
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I too could shoot a feature for that money!

First, find actors who are willing to work pro bono. If you are not going to make any money off this, yet do most of the work, why should they get paid? Is it not a group effort?

Second, find crew who have their own equipment so you get two things for the price of one. Also consider buying used equipment and reselling it (like a camera and a set of lights). Forget about shooting film.

Third, write your script to fit your means. Forget about that epic sci-fi you had imagined and write something set in Perth. Otherwise you will have to do more work to make it believable, and nothing is worse than having to sit through cheesy special effects.

Fourth, spend money only essentials things like food.
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Old October 22nd, 2007, 09:32 PM   #4
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Hi Jasmyne....good to see another Perth dweller on the site!

I'm trying to get a FEATURE length script filmed soon, and so far I've only spent $9000 on equipment.....while there are many other items I would die for (and it looks like I'll have the time to save for them as the search for actors continues...) I've almost completed the 'bare essentials'.

So I'd be interested in hearing what is in your 15 minute film that requires that much money! lol. Based on the last year of trying to organise things for little cost, I can share some things I've learnt.

1) Emre hit the nail on the head when he said the actors shouldn't really be getting paid if no one else is. If Fox studio's had given you 20 grand for a film, then yea absolutely pay them. But if you've spent thousands of dollars of your own money, like I have, to make a non-profit project, you'll just have to find actors willing to do the job for the hell of it. And this really is easier than it sounds. There are plenty of great actors in Perth, many of them trying to bust into the industry - if you look around I'm sure you'll find some who will offer their services for free.

2) Do a purge of your equipment list. This can be painful, I know....but bear with me. When you first write out everything you think you'll need, you'll be dumbfounded by how much the cost amounts to. Go through the list and cross out everything but the bare essentials - for example my list came down to an Xl2, Redrock adaptor, three good SLR lens', a good shotgun mic, a tripod and an external moniter for the camera.
In time, as the movie gets delayed or new oppurtunities arise, you can add previous items back onto the list. For example, I'm still missing two actors, which is giving me the time to aqquire a much better lighting kit than I had planned.

3) It's been said but I'll repeat it....get the most out of everyone on your crew. I don't think I have any actors who aren't doing a peripheral job, be it costume design, storyboarding or writing some original music. Hell, I'M acting in my own film, just to cut down time and money.

Sorry for the long winded post but from what you've written you and I are in the same boat :) I'm in perth as well so PM me if you'd like to share your pain with someone.

All the best and good luck! -Jon
I had a handle on life but it broke.
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Old October 23rd, 2007, 03:31 AM   #5
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We're shooting with my xl2, so that wasn't even a factor in the cost. Nobody else but the editor has their own gear, and I really like this crew.

Biggest expense is the actors. It depends on the grant whether we pay them that much or substantailly less. I'm not big on asking them to double up, either as other characters (trust me, it wouldn't work) or crew.
I'm trying to find an apartment to shoot in, but that isn't proving terribly easy (everyone I know is living in a better place than the one we need)

Workers Comp/insurance is nearly $500.

Looking through it, a lot of it was 'satisfy the film board' expenses that we wouldn't have done usually.

A copy of the script can be seen here:
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