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Old March 5th, 2005, 06:34 AM   #1
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Can i make a feature w/$48,000

I'm just seeing what people think on this. My main worry is getting a crew. How would i go about succesfully calculating a budget. I will be buying and Canon Xl2 Pal and a P+S technik Mini35 and some of the equipment or is it better to rent. I am based in the UK so it will be shot here.

Is there anythng else i should let you know.
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Old March 5th, 2005, 07:09 AM   #2
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are you planning to transfer to 35mm later, with additional finance perhaps - or will DigiBeta/DVD be the delivery formats?
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Old March 5th, 2005, 07:15 AM   #3
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It is very possible to shoot a feature, even for less than your budget. But, there are factors to consider-

1) Script- is it a simple story, few *reasonable* locations, small cast? If so, you may be able to actually shoot it AND pay cast and crew up front.

2) Cast and crew- Try and get film students' friends, and hopeful beginners. Most of the time, these folk are happy to just be doing a movie. You can sometimes get by with just "copy & credit", sometimes deferred payment.

3) Your biggest expenses, will be attorneys, insurance, and permits. If you have any material that MAY BE COPYRIGHTED, you will need a lawyer, just to help keep other lawyers and courts off your back.

Remember- A feature is called a feature, because of it's length. Feature length is around an hour to 3 hours. It doesn't have to have explosions, spaceships, and massive car chases... those are just really cool ;)
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Old March 5th, 2005, 08:27 AM   #4
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Thanks for replying- It means alot to hear someones feedback. The film is and Action/Sci-fi but it situated in loactions that would look great on film.

Basically the movie i hope will be around 100min-120, there are few scenes where it will cost $$$ but i am unsure of how much.

There is one scene which i scripted it to be about 10-12mins long where there is a mini war scene on a field on a council estate. Through the location of where the atcuall scene is (Brixton, London) our version of your Bronx, This would not be possible for money factors. The shoot would include about 40 extras, guns would be involved and a few mini explosions. So i figure i could do some back plate shooting and a few on location scenes and then put it all together, filming the filed war scenes in a green screen room. This would be feesible. A rough estimate for this scene would be about $3800. Costumes and guns would need to be hired.

The next shot is of a small car chase scene at night. I have thought about shooting it bit by bit like through the middle of the night but i am still not sure this can be done or rather more should be done like this.

There is then another scene where a flat explodes. I would probably have to build a set. How much does this cost?

There are a few are big scenes but i have an idea of how they should work out an i am not really worried about them. My main concern is running this like a proper movie. I definatley wan't a proper DP. Do the crew all have to be proffessionals. This film really has to wow people so i can secure funding for it's sequels. I would ideally like to shoot the movie like a proper movie. Could it be done in 4 weeks or more. I know these question are ridiculous to be answered, but i really have no proper clue and any help that could lead me in the right direction would be great.

Thanks
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Old March 5th, 2005, 08:54 AM   #5
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Re: Can i make a feature w/$48,000

<<<-- Originally posted by Rabi Syid : I will be buying and Canon Xl2 Pal and a P+S technik Mini35 and some of the equipment -->>>

That will take a pretty big bite out of your budget for starters. I don't have any real experience with film budgets, but have budgeted many millions of dollars for theatrical productions over the years. There's no magic formula for any of this. Start a spreadsheet and begin by just listing each item that will be required for each scene of your film. Create columns for description, quantity, unit cost, total, and also benefits if they are required for your labor.

Then you give it your best guess. Don't expect to do this in one sitting, but keep returning to it regularly over a period of days or weeks. The important thing about this is that you will begin an analytical thought process. You'll find yourself thinking about the details as you go about your daily business, then returning home to revise a line on the spreadsheet. Gradually you'll refine your original guesses to more realistic estimates based on research.

You should also do supporting spreadsheets which break down the cost of the more complicated items in more detail. I also scribble down a lot of notes on legal pad pages, and throw them all in a file folder.

This is how I organize my thoughts and eventually end up with a finished budget for the activities of my department here at the Opera Company. As I said, the discipline is the important part. As soon as you start putting numbers in the spreadsheet the wheels in you mind will start turning, and this will guide you in the right direction. Good luck with the project; let us know how it works out!
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Old March 5th, 2005, 08:56 AM   #6
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Thanks for your comments. That seems like the best option.
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Old March 5th, 2005, 09:44 AM   #7
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Rabi, perhaps you can find a line producer/production manager who has had previous experience with this level of filmmaking and bring them on during the budgeting stage--you'll need them during the shoot anyway, plus they will likely have crew and resource recommendations.
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Old March 5th, 2005, 09:58 AM   #8
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You might also be better off hiring a DP with his own camera equipment, rather than buying it. That in itself could save you several thousand, which could be used elsewhere.
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Old March 5th, 2005, 01:16 PM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Rabi Syid : There is one scene which i scripted it to be about 10-12mins long where there is a mini war scene on a field on a council estate. Through the location of where the atcuall scene is (Brixton, London) our version of your Bronx, This would not be possible for money factors. The shoot would include about 40 extras, guns would be involved and a few mini explosions. So i figure i could do some back plate shooting and a few on location scenes and then put it all together, filming the filed war scenes in a green screen room. This would be feesible. A rough estimate for this scene would be about $3800. Costumes and guns would need to be hired.

The next shot is of a small car chase scene at night. I have thought about shooting it bit by bit like through the middle of the night but i am still not sure this can be done or rather more should be done like this.

There is then another scene where a flat explodes. I would probably have to build a set. How much does this cost? -->>>

Any time you're dealing with guns, pyro, etc., your main concern needs to be safety. Even blanks can hurt people.

I don't know what the regulations are in the UK (although I imagine they're much more restrictive than in the US), but you can order prop guns from places like AirSoft. (Found this on Google in just a few minutes: http://www.wolfarmouries.co.uk/airsoft/bb/sitemap/gun_prop.htm)

But you're going to need someone on set that knows the safety precautions with these things in and out.

That goes quadruple for anything you plan to blow up. You're going to need trained technicians to set up the pyro, and you're probably going to need the local fire department on hand to put the thing out afterwards.

This is NOT where you want to cut costs. Your film is probably not worth a trip to the hospital.
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Old March 5th, 2005, 06:36 PM   #10
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Rabi,

Boyd's caution, that buying equipment will take bite out of your budget, is one to take into SERIOUS consideration. Keith's recommendation to hire a professional DP with a package is also some advice to take into serious consideration.

The cost of buying an XL2 and a Mini35 adapter will be in the area of $15,000! And then you still have to rent the 35mm lenses to put onto the Mini35!!! Rental of those lenses could run you another $3,000 for a 4 week shoot!

With that kind of money, you could rent a Sony HDW-F900 and hire a Director of Photography. With money to spare. It's likely you could find an owner/operator with an F900 and get a package deal like Keith suggests. An owner/operator would probrably do a 4 week job for half as much.

Buying equipment is the first and most common mistake filmmakers make. Anything you can think of can be rented for a fraction of the price. Take the money you save from rentals and put it into hiring a professioanl crew. You'll cut your cost in half, and double your production value.

$48,000 is plenty of money to comfortably make a 24P DV feature WITH paying your crew, and renting a healthy production package. Of course, SFX are going to be another issue. But plenty has been done with less.

Also, let me second Colin's warning to put safety first!!! Safety is the most important issue to consider, Period. Whether it's working with Pyro, or stunts, or just having a crew that knows what they're doing. Saftey first! Just as dangerous as an inexperienced stunt and pyro technician, is a student who doesn't know what they're doing with a 1K. Electrocution and a falling light is the one thing that doesn't usually make people stop and think the way an explosion does... until it happens.
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Old March 6th, 2005, 04:57 AM   #11
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Hi

This topic was basically to find out what people had to say on the matter. Every thing what has been said has been right and i have straight way looked into a Dp who owns a Mini. Originally i could of made money from the setup i would of bought but the is long route and i'd rather pay for a DP. Saftey is also key so will do things properly. I am actually just going to shoot the first 15 minutes. Which can be easily done and then take it from there. i will have around 10,000 to shoot this with.

Thanks for all the comments
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Old March 7th, 2005, 03:27 PM   #12
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I bought an XL-1, an Apple with Final Cut Pro 1.0 and hard drives, plus lights, etc., for $15,000 6 years ago (March 1999) and by June, I shot my first feature film, Skye Falling for $2000 + an additional $3000 when it went to one theatre (ads, etc.) and DVD (ads, etc.) in 2001 and 2003 respectively. I had a lot of fun making it and used the gear to make other short films and I made back maybe half of my investment in weddings (who really wants to do that) and other crap.

But ultimately, it's probably cheaper to find someone who owns a camera and rent it, same with other gear. I'd drop a couple grand on an edit system (hard drives are cheaper now than in 1999) but that's it.

I'm getting ready to shoot a film on HDV for $55,000 this fall and I'm being VERY creative, like not hotels, but renting a couple of houses.

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Old March 7th, 2005, 05:29 PM   #13
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"Keith's recommendation to hire a professional DP with a package is also some advice to take into serious consideration."

It's not very often that someone says to consider my advice... I'm both honored, and a bit scared ;)
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Old March 7th, 2005, 06:32 PM   #14
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Ah, Keith, no sweat! You gave me good advice with getting more people to sign up for my newsletter!

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Old March 15th, 2005, 10:28 PM   #15
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I agree with all of the above.

I want to put in a word for the screenplay. It's been said a billion times, but it merits repetition. Screenplay. Without a good screenplay, your movie will be nothing more than a learning experience in filmmaking and a bad experience trying to get anyone to sit through it.

The screenplay is everything. If you have a great one, you could shoot your movie with a Canon ZR60 and edit it on iMovie, and you'd still have a shot at Sundance. Without a great screenplay, it won't matter if you buy 10 Dalsa cameras and project it in 70mm Cinemascope at the Zigfield... It'll still be bad.

Granted, I haven't read yours. But ANY screenplay (except maybe Charlie Kaufman's) can use some polishing. Get one or two people whose opinions you trust and respect (and no, parents don't count) and give them the screenplay for feedback. Really.

My advice is to take $4000 of the budget and pay yourself to really write the best damn screenplay you can for a couple of months. That's $500 a week. Quit your day job, or take a leave of absence, and you won't have to worry about paying the bills for 2 months. Every day read over the screenplay and compare it to other sci/fi movies you admire. What works. What doesn't. Trim the fat. Is there any scene that is slowing down the pace? Start every scene as late as possible and finish it as early as possible (if you don't know what that means, check out www.wordplayer.com and read the whole website.) Work on it day and night for those 8 weeks, and I guarantee you it'll make your movie a heck of a lot better than any Mini35 could dream of.

Then, and only then, take the rest of your $42,000 and make your movie. If you have a killer screenplay, YOU WILL NOT HAVE A PROBLEM FINDING A GOOD CREW (see this link: http://www.apple.com/pro/video/kobler/ ).

And, to answer your question: yes. You can shoot a feature for $48,000.

Best of luck.
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