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Brad Mills January 23rd, 2005 04:08 PM

Budget Troubles
Hey guys, I'm doing up a budget now for my film.

I have no idea what to pay my Production Manager, 1st AD & DP.

I don't know the industry rates...but here's my info. I'm on a $40,000.00 budget, with an 18 day shoot. What would you guys do in my situation?

Richard Alvarez January 23rd, 2005 05:40 PM

First thing I'd do is find out the local going rate. Contact local production companies, or reps and ask them what their day rates are.

Brad Mills January 24th, 2005 12:31 AM

I think the real question I'm trying to ask is, does anyone know where I can get a reliable budget breakdown template for a $40,000.00 feature?

I just completed my first rough draft of the budget, and whoa and behold I was only over by a hundred bucks....but I have no idea if what I budgeted for will be actual costs.

Thanks for any info you guys have.

Rhett Allen January 24th, 2005 01:24 AM

You can't really guess a budget, if you have already done it once and came up $100 OVER and you don't even know what you're going to pay the PM, 1st AD or DP my guess is that your budget is completely bogus. Do you have a DP? How much does he charge? How about a 1st AD? Depending on who you hire, salaries can vary widely.
You can also figure out what all the actual costs are (rentals, food, transport, equipment etc) and give yourself a little cushion (because you are probably going to go over budget) and then whatever is left over is what you have to work with for the other positions. Just figure out what you need and then shop around and find out what it costs. Don't guess!

Richard Alvarez January 24th, 2005 10:37 AM

" I think the real question I'm trying to ask is, does anyone know where I can get a reliable budget breakdown template for a $40,000.00 feature?"

Short of asking someone who shot a $40,000 dollar feature for their budget and crew list, locations, equipment, and actors... and USING them - you won't find a "RELIABLE" template if that's what you need.

There are plenty of programs that will generate budget templates for your feature, (Movie Magic Budgeting, to name one) but these templates are all empty. That's why they're called templates. Its up to you (or your line producer) to do the leg work, and find out what the local prices are for each category, plug them in, and look at the bottom line. After that, you have to start negotiating, cutting and compromising to meet you $40,000 dollar limit.

Brad Mills January 24th, 2005 11:01 AM

Thanks for the feedback guys. And I did overestimate a few things, that's why I was 100 over...for instance I figured out that I'd have to pay the actors $7150.00 for the 18 days shoot, and that's just minimum wage on a 12 hour day. But I know I can save $5000.00 off that price just by offering them a buyout price of between $200.00 and $500.00 each, espcially if they're students.

I just thought that someone may have posted a reliable set of budget guidelines to follow for a first time producer on a no budget feature. I'm pretty sure I've seen one somewhere before, but now I can't remember, I thought you guys might be more familiar with that sort of thing.

I don't have a line producer, I have a Production Manager, but he's just as in the dark about prices as me. I was looking for something that just suggests what a DP or 1st AD should get with that kind of budget. Maybe a max cost I should spent on lights, and a max percentage that I should spend on catering. All the basics.

I know I'm going to have to do the legwork when it comes time to finalize the budget, but if I had some guidelines I'd at least know that I'm not getting ripped off or spending too much on something I'm supposed to get for a lot less.

Anyway, thanks to anyone who responded and for anyone else that might have more info for me! This site has been a good help so far.


Dan Uneken January 28th, 2005 06:08 PM

In the end it's your script that dictates the budget. Try and shoot natural light only, for instance. Buy a book about production management, for instance "The Complete Frilm Production Handbook" by Eve Honthaner. There is a CD with templates for a lot of documents in there. Good luck!

Brad Mills January 28th, 2005 07:13 PM

Thanks for the tip, but unfortunately, 70% of it takes place at night =\

Rick Step February 12th, 2005 05:45 PM

With a forty K budget and an 18 day shoot, my advice is to get a core group like an ad, a dp, and someone who can function as a grip or gaffer...pay them decently so they show up each day, but don't pay anyone else.

Lets be honest...the chances of you getting even a penny back are very low, almost nonexistant, even if the movie is great. It's a bad business to be in..the worst business. So my advice is get people who want to help out simply for the experience or to support the arts, but realize that every penny you pay out is probably gone forever. If you have to, shoot it over a few months...don't get caught up in the idea that "real" movies do this or that. Lots of people throw away ridiculous amounts of money so they can feel like they're making a "real" movie.

That's my two cents...

Lorraine Boyle February 12th, 2005 08:30 PM

If you're looking for industry 'rule of thumb' figures .. buy the book "Film & Video Budgets" **3rd Edition** by Deke Simon and Michael Wiese.

They cover various size projects from $5million feature down to Digital No-Budget feature (also industrials and documentary). Good line by line commentary for each budget.

For instance, for a $200K digital feature they budgeted $700/ week for the Unit Prod Mgr and $800/week for the DP. However the NO-Budget feature pays the PM and DP nothing but credits or cut of net.

Having said that .. all the previous comments were true: you must find out what's available in your area.

I'm sure you already understand that there are no absolutes and each production situation calls for a unique set of choices. Even so I can recommend the book. Negotiation tips are sprinkled throughout and I like to have a set of references even if I know I have to do my own leg work.

Good luck!

Marc Sacco February 15th, 2005 07:58 PM

honestly, you don't have a production manager....you have someone who wants to be a production manager! really if he doesnt have a clue about hiring your crew then what good is he to you? (not to sound too harsh but that is part of his job!) it will be a learning experience for both of you. so if you want to save some money, pay him a production assistant salary while he learns on your dollar. you be the production manager or hire someone who knows what they are doing. you will save yourself money in the long run by having it managed properly.

my two cents...

that said...good luck on your project! (if youre looking for a director give me a shout! and check out some of my work at www.zenimage.com)


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