How to Budget Your Film’s Finances to Finish Strong

Any film project of significant size, whether it’s an indie film or one produced by a major studio, requires financing, and this can sometimes be difficult to come by. However, if you understand how to budget your film’s finances properly, you can help your chances of receiving enough funding to get the job done right. Here are some tips on how to do just that and finish strong on your film project.

Don’t assume funds are there

If you’re like many filmmakers, you’ve probably found yourself in this position at some point: You have a completed film and no money. Well, the first thing that should come to mind is not where are all the angels? or should I get a bank loan? Rather, it should be: I’ll figure out how to get the funds. And there are plenty of ways of doing this.

Allocate Funds Properly

Film production is a costly endeavor. As a producer, you will often find yourself in charge of allocating funds for things like equipment rentals, food and lodging for cast and crew, location fees and more. In order to save money wherever possible (and keep the project on budget), make sure that you are asking for bids from different vendors before making a purchase decision. This will help ensure that you’re getting the best price on whatever it is you need to rent or buy.

Stay Organised

Keep track of your spending with a budgeting spreadsheet. Make sure you’re allocating funds for the different stages of production, including pre-production, production, and post-production.

Break Down The Creative Process Into Stages

The creative process is always evolving. It starts with the idea and then moves through a development stage, where it gets refined. Now that you have a completed script, it is time to create your budget. Here are some things you’ll need to take into account as you do so:
1) Location – Where will your film be shot? If it’s in a major city, such as New York or Los Angeles, location costs can be upwards of $30K for one day of shooting.

Set Realistic Deadlines

We all know that the worst thing that can happen during a film production is running out of money. So before you get started, it’s important to set realistic deadlines and expectations for yourself. For instance, if your goal is $10,000, don’t plan on spending more than $2,500 per month on production costs.

Mix In Extra Funds For Odds and Ends (and don’t forget about insurance!)

One of the most common mistakes made by low-budget filmmakers is not including a contingency budget for the unexpected. It sounds counterintuitive, but what if you spent your entire budget on shooting and editing only to find out that music licensing costs are prohibitively high? What if your lead actor drops out two weeks before postproduction starts? What if someone steals all of your equipment? The best way to avoid these unfortunate occurrences is by planning for them ahead of time.

Plan For Additional Expenses (e.g. hard drive failure, insurance fees, additional permits, etc.)

When planning your finances, always include a margin for additional expenses. You never know when there will be an equipment failure, a location permit is denied, or the list goes on and on. Plan for these types of scenarios by budgeting more than you think you will need.

Have A Positive Attitude & Be Prepared To Spend Money On Yourself (e.g. upgraded hotel rooms, nicer meals, etc.)

It can be hard to stay positive and keep your morale up when you’re trying to finish a film. The good news is, being able to stick with it until the end will feel really good once you actually make it. Having a positive attitude and doing what you need (e.g. upgrading hotel rooms, nicer meals, etc.) will help make the process easier for yourself and your crew members.


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