Establishing a film production budget is very important in the process of making a movie as it determines an estimated amount of money that will be spent on each pahse of the project.
Corners may have to be cut in one area to get something else done in another. An example would be that some high profile actors fees are very expensive and hiring them take a large chunk of funds that could be needed for equipment or size of crew or royalty funding.
Maintaining a film production cost spreadsheet helps organize the expenses for each step of filmmaking, pre-production, production, post-production and finally the distribution of the film.
There is an industry standard software program available called Movie Magic EP Budgeting or a simple spreadsheet can be used.
The budgeting process being very important for every filmmaker, is planned out meticulously and often undergoes changes, during various phases of filming.
The filmmaker initially produces a rough budget during the script development process, as a strategy to convince producers and/or studios to go ahead with the project.
A much more detailed budget, which could be over 150 pages long is produced during pre-production, and this helps in securing the financing for the film.
To cut down on costs, multiple drafts of the budget may be created, till satisfactory numbers are reached.
Some cost examples are:
· Creative talent,
· Production costs,
· Post production (editing, visual effects etc) and ‘others’ (insurance and other bonds etc) can be the four broad sections in the budget of a filmmaker.
· Story rights: For obtaining the filming rights from a novel, play, video games, real life story or for making remakes or sequels the cost could be anything from a couple of thousand, as was the case with the film Leaving Las Vegas or astronomical sums like over $10 million, as with the adaptation of Microsoft’s Halo.
The Writers Guild of America has charged a minimum of $ 50,000 (Quentin Tarantino’s True Romance) and a maximum of as much as $ 5 million (M.Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable )
· Screenplay: Typically the development of a complete film script consumes about 5% of a film’s budget. High profile screenwriters get paid about $ 1 million for the first three drafts of the script, with additional $1 or 2 million as credit bonuses. Script doctors are brought in by the production houses to polish and and revise the final draft who charge about $100,000 to $200,000 a week.
· Producers: Film producers and executive producers are very well-paid, with the payment at times reaching seven figures. There are also bonuses and a share of the profit, which could be as much as 40%. Spider-Man producer Laura Ziskin earned over $30 million.
· Director: $ 14,000 a week, for a minimum of 10 weeks work is the DGA minimum payment scale. Though conventionally, the director’s salary is 7% of the final budget, top directors these days command anywhere between $5 to 10 million, per movie.
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