How To Create a Professional Budget For Your Under $300K Film + Handouts To Help You Create Your Budget & Secure Financing

Taught by Julie Buck


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Class hosted by: Julie Buck

Film Producer, Photographer and Filmmaker

Instructor Julie Buck is a film producer, photographer and filmmaker. As a line producer and production manager, she has budgeted and scheduled hundreds of independent films and has worked from the early stages of development to seeing films play and sell at major festivals. As a film producer, her work has played at such festivals as Tribeca, South by Southwest, London Film Festival, and Sundance. She's worked with A-list talent throughout her career, including Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Anjelica Huston, and Bill Pullman. She has an MFA in film from Columbia University and is a member of the Director's Guild of America. Full Bio »



Are you a filmmaker with a story to tell but you don't have access to big financing sources? You may not realize that your vision can be achieved for less money than you think and, by doing so, you can make a grand statement to the world about your talent.

For filmmakers and storytellers, a film with a budget below $300,000 can be a phenomenal opportunity to launch your career or see your creative vision become a reality on screen. These low-budget films are incredibly enticing to financiers who are more open to hearing from fresh voices when they're not spending millions. And agents, managers, and executives are often blown away by an artist's creativity when they work with lower budgets. It's a calling card. But in order to make it happen, you’ll first need to present how you’ll achieve your vision at such a low cost by building a realistic and professional budget and schedule that show you are prepared to make and deliver your film. That is an art in itself. 

Producer and filmmaker Julie Buck will teach you everything you need to know to accomplish this goal. As a producer, line producer, production manager, and member of the Directors Guild of America, Julie has budgeted and scheduled hundreds of independent films. Julie’s work has been screened at festivals including Tribeca, South by Southwest, London Film Festival, and Sundance, among others. She's worked with A-list talent throughout her career, including Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Anjelica Huston, and Bill Pullman.

Over four sessions of this exclusive Stage 32 intensive class, you’ll immerse yourself in how to build a realistic budget in this price range by breaking down your script costs accurately, conveying everything your physical production requires, and understanding above-the-line vs. below-the-line costs. You’ll then move onto equipment, transportation, and legal considerations that are imperative for any budget, and ensure that your numbers cover everything through post-production. Once you’ve built out your budget, you’ll learn how to find financing, even if you don’t think you have those connections yet.

In addition to Julie’s wealth of experience, she’ll be providing you with exclusive handouts to help you create your budget that can be used to find financing, including:

  • Breakdowns
  • Schedules
  • Budgets
  • Budget templates
  • Union sheets
  • How to determine rates and working with SAG


What You'll Learn

Session 1: Breaking Down a Script & Scheduling

  • Learning the basic elements of the script (locations, actors, page count, etc.), and how they impact the schedule.
  • Learning to flag difficult elements that might sink a film
  • Numbering the script and breaking down the script into separate elements
  • Rearranging the breakdown into a realistic one-liner schedule, including day-out days and tagging elements that could impact the budget
  • Discussing the various software available to schedule a film

Q&A with Julie

Handouts: Sample script and schedule

Assignment: You will expect to prep a simplified breakdown for the following week.

Session 2: Above the Line (ATL) Budgeting

  • Learning what “Above-the-Line” means, including costs for producers, directors, writers, and actors, and how to minimize these costs
  • Discussing unions and hidden costs of hiring SAG actors on a micro budget film
  • Finding rate sheets, understanding fringes, globals, Taft Hartleys, and potential agent fees

Q&A with Julie

Handouts: Above-the-line rate sheets and sample SAG agreements

Assignment: We will begin to prep a simplified ATL budget in class, which you will finish at home and we can discuss it the following week.

Session 3: Below the Line (BTL) Budgeting

  • Learning what “below-the-line” means, including costs for the crew, equipment, locations, legal fees, insurance, etc.
  • Discussing potential unions that might be involved, how that can impact the backend of a budget, and how to avoid union pitfalls
  • Learning how to create globals and fringes in scheduling software

Q&A with Julie

Handouts: Below-the-line rate sheets

Assignment: We will begin to prep a simplified BTL budget in class. During the week, we will work on how to build rates and how to keep down equipment costs.

Session 4: Preparing for the Unexpected

  • Learn about post-production costs
  • Discussing pitfalls of first-time filmmaker budgets
  • Next steps to getting your film financed and produced

Q&A with Julie



Purchasing gives you access to the previously-recorded live class.
Your instructor is no longer sending out or reviewing the assignments, however we still encourage all creatives to participate in the exercises!

About Your Instructor

Instructor Julie Buck is a film producer, photographer and filmmaker. As a line producer and production manager, she has budgeted and scheduled hundreds of independent films and has worked from the early stages of development to seeing films play and sell at major festivals. As a film producer, her work has played at such festivals as Tribeca, South by Southwest, London Film Festival, and Sundance. She's worked with A-list talent throughout her career, including Claire Danes, Jim Parsons, Octavia Spencer, Anjelica Huston, and Bill Pullman. She has an MFA in film from Columbia University and is a member of the Director's Guild of America.


Q: What is the format of a lab?
A: Stage 32 Next Level Classes are typically 90-minute broadcasts that take place online using a designated software program from Stage 32.

Q: Do I have to be located in a specific location?
A: No, you can participate from the comfort of your own home using your personal computer! If you attend a live online webinar, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class.

Q: What are the system requirements?
A: You will need to meet the following system requirements in order to run the webinar software: Windows 7 or later Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) or later.
If you have Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac OS X 10.8 (Mountain Lion): The webinar software does not support these operating systems. If you are running one of those operating systems, please upgrade now in order to be able to view a live class. Upgrade your Windows computer / Upgrade your Mac computer

Q: What if I cannot attend the live lab class?
A: If you attend a live online class, you will be able to communicate directly with your instructor during the class. If you cannot attend a live class, you will have access to the entire recorded broadcast, including the Q&A. Plus, your instructor will be available via email throughout the lab.

Q: Will I have access to the lab afterward to rewatch?
A: Yes! After the purchase of the lab, you will have on-demand access to the video recording, which you can view as many times as you'd like!


If you have a generic question about Stage 32 education you can take a look at our frequently asked questions section on our help page, or feel free to contact support with any other inquiries you might have.

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