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Old 02-07-2019, 04:40 PM   #1
Brandon Diamond
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Estimate cost of...

Hey you all. I'm just trying to get a good estimate cost of a shoestring no budget feature film?

I tend to over pay for most things, to make sure it's done right no matter what it is. A round about breakdown on things, would be much appreciated. Help me get a better idea on how much should I spend here and there, if I do in fact finally go through with this...which I know I eventually will, but sooner would be better than later.
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:19 PM   #2
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Old 02-07-2019, 05:28 PM   #3
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Thank you. I been here for over 10 years, but just deciding to actually post something.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:07 PM   #4
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It can really vary.

Here's a movie I shot on a ZR800 in 2009 for $200


This one is shot on a T2i in 2010 for $2000


And here's a short film I shot for nothing (except gas) last November on the URSA Mini 4K


On the $200 movie, all that money went to just food and gas for the actors (plus tape). Everything else we begged or borrowed.
The $2000 movie: Half of that went toward the new camera, the rest was food, gas and props. Plus a conference room rental for the bad guy scenes.
I should add that I didn't have any sound gear on this films. We did ADR for everything (it shows) but it allowed us to save money.

On my short, I had the camera and the firearms. My actress had the horse and location. So it just cost me gas to get there.

My very first feature (which I won't show) cost me $600. That went to food and props and tape stock.

Before you start writing, make your "Rodriguez List". It can add so much production value. No matter what though, always feed your actors, even if it's just Little Ceaser's pizza and snack foods you buy in bulk.

Last edited by El Director; 02-07-2019 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:23 PM   #5
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This summer I'm shooting another feature. All the locations are free, I'm just paying for the lead actor ($1500), food and gas. There are some other toys I would like to purchase (a drone comes to mind), but even if I do get all the toys, I'm still only looking at $6000 for this movie.
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Old 02-07-2019, 06:24 PM   #6
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It all starts with the script; you need to do a complete preproduction breakdown to determine the specific requirements of the project - minimal or numerous locations, small or large cast, lots of stunts/effects or minimal stunts/effects…… you get the idea.

The idea is to cram as much as you can into your budget. It comes down to compromises. You could hire Randy Thom and his team to do the audio post, about $100k - $250k per linear minute, or someone like myself who will do it for substantially less, much, MUCH less. You could retain Jeff Wexler and his team to do production sound at about $2,500 a day (including equipment fees) or a one-man-band freelance PSM for $100 to $500 a day. The same applies to every actor and crew member.

And don't be deceived by the success of "low" budget indie projects. "The Blair Witch Project" is invariably trotted out - "It was made for only $60,000!" Which is entirely true - if you ignore the almost one million dollars invested in audio post and another $250k put into cleaning up the edit and the color correction. Add in other similar things and the actual cost (less marketing, legal, etc.) is still under $1.5 million; a very small sum for "Hollywood" but an astronomical sum for most indie filmmakers.

In truth "BWP" would be substantially less expensive to post these days as there have been enormous leaps in affordable technology and the availability of talented postproduction folks to use it since "BWP" was released.

It's all about exquisite planning and attention to detail during preproduction. If you are as organized as the D-Day invasion, giving full support, "training" and briefings to your army of cast and crew, and preparing for all possible problems and having back-ups for dealing with them, your shoot will go relatively smoothly.

That's the best I can do with your 'how-long-is-a-piece-of-string question.
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Old 02-08-2019, 11:17 AM   #7
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a film can be made for £0. I'm guessing you have a camera phone in your pocket (most do) start by writing your own script using only actors, props and locations you already have, then shoot - weather its any good though is another thing.

my way is the same as wedding planning, look at how much money you CAN spend and work your budget to that, don't rely on investors or crowdfunding because you may not get it (and never use credit cards and loans) so if you have £500 in the bank plan a £500 film and if you have £5000 plan a £5000 film... maybe sell things to get more money or pick up odd jobs but only plan to spend the cash in your hand or you'll likely stall, run out of money or end up in crippling debt before the films ever done

you can then crowdfund etc... for 'extras' to polish everything up afterward but only for the stuff that's not paramount to the project (example: say you want to hire a vintage vw camper for the 'feel' but the story doesn't rely on it because you can just have the actor use your car or a bike in the film)

if you google there are many sites that offer breakdowns at different no budget price points or other directors experiences... for example I read an article once by someone who got three 'actors' who didn't know each other and went on a 3 day road trip and just filmed them getting to know each other completely improv and cut it into the film, he had a camera so it only cost him the cost of food and lodging if I remember correctly
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Old 02-08-2019, 11:22 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alcove Audio View Post

And don't be deceived by the success of "low" budget indie projects. "The Blair Witch Project" is invariably trotted out - "It was made for only $60,000!" Which is entirely true - if you ignore the almost one million dollars invested in audio post and another $250k put into cleaning up the edit and the color correction. Add in other similar things and the actual cost (less marketing, legal, etc.) is still under $1.5 million; a very small sum for "Hollywood" but an astronomical sum for most indie filmmakers.
that's the trick, shot for and final costs are completely different

I read the other day that while 'Clerks' was 'shot for' $28,000 the distribution company replaced the entire soundtrack before it hit the general public, cost of the new soundtrack was $300,000 (so 10x as much as the film cost to 'shoot')
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Old 02-08-2019, 03:22 PM   #9
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Hey there I've been working on a no budget feature for quite some time now. We shot it a few years ago and last year took it to some festivals and right now I'm doing a tour of theaters and building up to a digital release. The cost is of course going to depend on a lot of different things and what you're counting. Everyone graciously donated time and I was fortunate to make a connection that donated gear. It cost me ~$20,000 for production. That was meals, locations, transportation, props, and other assorted costs that sprang up throughout the 11 months we were shooting on weekends. Post-Production I handled primarily myself and I only spent about $1,000 for that because I needed to pay a composer. Now, in the distribution (or at least prepping for distribution) phase I'm anticipating spending at least another $10,000 between some technical costs (like getting a DCP made), theater rentals, advertising, travel, submission costs, etc. So, overall, I'd estimate depending on various factors that a shoestring no budget would be at least $30,000 - $40,000 when all is said and done. At least based on what I've been doing. I'm in the middle of a blog post series about the process for my film, if you want to check it out, I'm updating it weekly right now. You can read it here
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Old 02-09-2019, 02:04 PM   #10
Rayandmigdalia
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My wife and I have made over a dozen "no budget" feature films. (Actual costs $2400 to $9000 each). My advice is...only spend what you can afford to lose. Don't borrow money. Don't mortgage your house. Don't cash in your 401K. Don't sell points. If you have $500, spend $500. Chances are your film will take months or years to make back the production cost. (If it ever does). That's the reality of making films.
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