Monday, March 5, 2007

budget & schedule

budget & schedule

Getting your film finished on time and on budget is hard but incredibly important.

Once you have made the key decision of which format you intend to shoot on, then you are in a better position to fully budget and schedule the project. Budgeting and scheduling usually falls into the pre-production stage of filmmaking, when you are also pulling your team together including heads of department (see cast & crew), choosing your actors and scouting for locations.

Most professional line producers and production managers use a software package called Movie Magic Scheduling and Movie Magic Budgeting to determine how a film will be shot. It is expensive software and, for short films, not essential, but it’s worth taking a look at how this professional software breaks down the scheduling of a film. It will give you an idea of how you need to think about your project (see

When scheduling you need to break the script down into locations and then work out how many scenes you have at each location, and also the length of each scene. This will give you an idea of how long you will need to spend at each location and which order of filming will prove most efficient. From this, you’ll have a rough idea of how long you will need to shoot your film and what it will cost.

Shot lists and storyboards also help clarify exactly what will be shot for each scene and how much time must be allocated. For a breakdown of storyboarding see:

When budgeting a short film, there is a large degree of give and take. The first time you budget, you should include everything that feels 'essential' - some of which you will have to pay for and some of which you will get for free. The budget will be a constantly changing document, insomuch as ‘essentials’ become redefined, amazing deals come up and certain elements prove to be too expensive. Of course, there comes a point, when you have raised all the cash and made all the deals that you possibly can, when you have to decide to go-ahead with what you already have.

Elements that you should include in your budget are:

cast and crew - you might not have to pay anyone, but make sure you clarify this early on. If you are not paying crew then it is customary to offer to cover their expenses.
travel – an unavoidable cost.
catering – food is not to be underestimated, if you can feed your team well they will be much happier to work for you.
location - it depends where you are shooting, but again make sure that this is thoroughly researched ahead of time.
camera and lights - see equipment.
stock - see equipment.
insurance - see insurance.
post-production - an important area, most first-time filmmakers do not budget adequately for this.

If you have scheduled production correctly, the first day of principle photography should see every department fully aware of where they should be and what they’re supposed to be doing (that and each subsequent day). This means production should be smooth. However, the reality is that production is usually a roller-coaster ride and you need to be prepared for every eventuality. Call Sheets are the daily representation of all the hard work carried out in scheduling.

Call Sheets are daily-published pieces of paper that hold all the information crew members need for each day of a shoot.

They should include:

contact numbers
what is being shot each day and who is in each shot
where the rushes will be going at the end of the day
who is responsible for first aid on set
photocopies of maps or directions

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