Budgeting is just as essential to pre-production as location scouting or holding auditions to cast the main characters of your film. The art of making money work for you instead of against you is one that needs to be learned ahead of any important production to ensure that things go smoothly and everyone is happy with the experience.
There are a million questions that need to be answered each time you start a project, no matter how big or small. Clearing out those questions is the first step to evenly and effectively distribute the resources available. Here are a couple of guidelines on how to move forward with the creation of a budget and deciding who gets what.
How to Create a Budget For Your Film
Priorities: unavoidable responsibilities
The first thing you want to define is what are the responsibilities you cannot escape. Aspects of the filmmaking process that tend to be in this category include permissions, insurance, and legal work in general. Setting things in motion to have all of these documents usually comes with a fee, so part of your budget should definitely be reserved for that.
Depending on the caliber of the project, things like renting a location and hiring department heads might be things you can skip if you are going full indie and shooting at your parents’ place with friends and family in the key technical roles. Otherwise, make sure you have a budget portion set aside for these professionals after doing your research on who to hire.
Keep your cast and crew satisfied
Next up on your list of priorities, in case you are working with a pro cast and crew, is to save a portion of your budget to pay and feed all the cast and crew. If you don’t have experience working on sets, anyone who does will tell you that keeping crew members and actors happy is essential to make everything go as smoothly as possible.
Sometimes, more often than not, the conditions of your shooting might not be the most pleasing for everyone on the team at some point. You might need to shoot under the blazing sun for a couple of hours, or maybe you have to repeat a complicated shot over and over again until you get it right.
At the end of the day, you want the people who stood by your side to get the job done to be as pleased as they can be. A large part of your budget should go towards their payment and the hiring of catering services, transportation, and other things like accommodation and overtime if needed.
If possible, always go under budget
No one ever knows what could happen on set, but as a rule of thumb, you should always expect the unexpected. That implies being ready to face the unexpected, and that usually translates to dealing with extra costs out of the blue. Permissions you didn’t know you had to get, fees for the use of utilities at certain locations, and repairs that need to be done to infrastructure damaged as a result of your work are all more common than you think.
Being smart with your money is necessary to always save some extra funds in case of emergency. Your budget should always contemplate these last-minute costs, or at least be framed in a way that they don’t actually drain out completely all the money you have for the production.