Pre-Production: The Basics of Budgeting

The most prominent task during pre-production is budgeting. Everything you do will all come back to the budget. Writing out your budget accurately is just as important as sticking to it.

Step 1: Contingency

Film production is full of unexpected twists and turns. It is pretty much guaranteed that something will come up and the money for it will need to come from somewhere. Account for these things before you even conceive of them. Before you even start to plan your budget, take a percentage of your funds and set them aside as contingency. It is debatable what percentage to use; usually it is somewhere between 8 and 15% of your budget. With this amount removed, you now must continue using a smaller dollar amount.

Step 2: Pre-Production

You will be spending money before production even starts. Even if you go the cheapest route possible, spending will still exist. Meetings with your various collaborators will cost at least the price of a coffee. You will want to do some location scouting which comes with transportation costs. Getting a website designed could help your publicity. The key to good budgeting is accounting for everything, even before you start shooting.

Step 3: Cast and Crew

Paying people will always be the biggest expense. Count up the number of people that you will need to involve in your production and multiply by the number of days you will need them for. The number could shock you. However, this is not a wise place to cut costs. Unhappy people make an unhappy set, which creates a lower quality movie.

Step 4: Equipment

Though camera and lights are very important, every department uses equipment. Wardrobe needs racks and a steamer. Production needs tables and traffic cones. Account for everyone's needs when budgeting for equipment. Also try to account for the likelihood of losses and damages. Though you can beg your crew to be careful, the unexpected is prone to happen.

Step 5: Transportation

Remember that getting everyone and everything to set takes wheels. You will need to determine who you need to transport and how. Equipment will need to live in trucks, and these trucks will need a place to sleep at night. Do not let parking become a surprise expense.

Step 6: Food

Though you may not expect it, feeding all those hungry mouths is going to cost a lot of money. It could potentially be the largest expense second to paying them. Not only will they need a meal at lunch, but sustenance throughout the day will keep their bodies working to the fullest.

Step 7: Post-Production

Do not make the mistake of spending all your money on production and having nothing left to finish your movie with. Post-production costs do not merely end at editing. You also need to color correct, sound design, and online your movie. These processes are not cheap.

These are only a few of the expenses that you will need to plan for. The cost of production is high, but you can wrangle it with some skilled budgeting.

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