Producing : Need help to prepare budget and scheduling by Robert Destefano

Robert Destefano

Need help to prepare budget and scheduling

Is there anybody here that is/knows a professional unit production manager? I'm rewriting a script I'm planning to pitch at the American Film Market and I need some help to know what the budget is, and how long it's going to take to film my first feature. The script is completed but it's going through some rewrites to make the story stronger (same story, but new scenes added with some other scenes taken out). I'm looking for one right now just so I could be prepared for this upcoming November. Please comment or PM me. Thank you!

Beth Fox Heisinger

Robert, perhaps post this in the "JOBS" section. You may receive more responses there. :)

Robert Destefano

Will do, thanks Beth!

Elisabeth Meier

Another possibility was to ask this question under the Lounge topic 'producing' instead of 'development'.

Robert Destefano

Elisabeth: I though it would be appropriate enough to have it under development. I'll delete this post and place it there in 12 hours. Thank you!

Elisabeth Meier

Was just a thought. You also could try to find producers by their occasion under 'connect' and contact them directly - after you got connected. :)

Regina Lee

I might be able to refer you to someone, but all the professionals I know charge a prep fee.

Robert Destefano

Regina: I fully understand, let me know what the charge maybe. Thank you!

Regina Lee

Hi Robert, I just asked an A.D. friend who is a legit A.D. (has ADed movies for Fox, Sony, HBO, Warner Bros., etc). He said the cost of an accurate budget & board depends on the budget of the movie because a higher budget movie is much more complicated with far more line items. He said a rough estimate is $1500 to budget/board an under $1M project. $1500 to $5000 for a $1M to $5M budget movie, depending on tax credit state or not. A studio movie could be $5000-10,000 to budget/board. I would have guessed $4000-8000, so his estimates all feel right to me. If someone charges you $500, they're most likely using a generic budget/board that is not tailored to your script.

Regina Lee

I just can't reach out to legit ADs and UPMs if it's not a good opportunity for them because we can each only use so many favors.

Robert Destefano

Regina, thank you so much for the input and getting an accurate pricing on the cost to figure out how much my first feature would be and how long it would take to shoot. The pricing is way to high for me to afford at the moment. I guess I would have to figure this out myself. Again, thank you so much!

Regina Lee

Hi Robert, just curious, what would you have guessed the fee would be to properly board and budget a feature script? I'm just curious what someone outside the Hollywood system would think the fee/man-hours are.

Robert Destefano

Hi Regina, I was thinking it would somewhere between $500-$2k. I knew it wouldn't be cheap to professionally get an accurate board and budget.

Regina Lee

Thanks, Robert. Just wondering. I've heard of people charging $300-500, but my experience is that they're just slapping your title onto a generic budget. They're certainly not boarding the show for $300.

Robert Destefano

I understand, thank you for the help Regina!

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

I had an experienced UPM budget and schedule a script of mine (in the 3 million range) for $2000. She came highly recommended by a completion bonding company and did a great job. But it strikes me that you may not need a budget/schedule. You know best, of course, but what I'm saying is that at AFM, you'll be pitching to prodcos, distributors, etc., people experienced in making movies. My feeling is that they'll be able to estimate the budget of, and time requited to shoot, your script based on the genre and your log line/synopsis and will be more concerned about the concept and execution of your story than about a precise budget. So unless you plan to produce, you may not need to spend the money to get one. I would have a pitch deck with some art work, posters, visuals, etc. More on that if you wish.

Shaun O'Banion

My two cents: Douglas is correct. Do not attempt to craft a schedule and budget if you haven't done it - particularly if the intention was to give it to anyone at AFM. Good luck!

Regina Lee

For what it's worth, I also agree with Douglas and Shaun. But Robert may have a project that could benefit from a vetted budget for whatever reason. Maybe he's already been to AFM once, and the sales agents, international co-producers, etc. are saying, "We get it, but come back next time with a budget."

Robert Destefano

Douglas and Shaun, thank you guys so much sharing your words of advice I will take them into consideration. Regina, I've to the American Film Market twice and both times I've been asked from people of what the budget for my previous project and how long it would take to shoot. At the time I didn't really have an answer because I was there pitching my idea for my first feature, I felt clueless and had thought I wasn't as prepared that I should of been. I wanted to go there with this current idea with a solid plan so I could be ready for any questions that producers and financiers may throw at me.

Regina Lee

@Robert, you may be comfortable giving an answer like, "Our target budget is $2M, and our production plan would be similar to XYZ movies which were shot in New Orleans and Atlanta. We think we need a 21-day shoot. All practical effects. No VFX. Post in Toronto." You may be able to get away with an educated guess, rather than a real board/budget. But yeah, I'm with you, ideally, it never hurts to be as prepared as possible!!

Robert Destefano

Regina, thank you so much for your help! :D Thank you!

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Regina and Robert. Your points are well taken. But my experience with SAs, prodcos, etc. is that they are concerned about attachments and the script. If they start asking about shooting schedules, unless I'm producing, I'm politely giving them an estimate of the budget, and then, depending on their response, probably moving on. One could argue that you don't want to give them a chance to say no, but again I'd say do your job which is to bring them a promising project. If they are asking for a schedule and budget, it sounds to me like they are not really interested and are simply trying to push off a cost, which in my view should be theirs, onto you.

Regina Lee

100% agree, Douglas. If I'm playing the odds at AFM (or elsewhere) to try to put my movie together, I'd rather have a package with a star attached than a fully vetted budget. That would give me a clear movie to sell. That would be my priority in almost any situation. However, we all know that AFM attracts all kinds of people from all countries with all kinds of agendas (e.g. including the rich guy who wants his daughter to star in a movie and will pay for her to do it!). There's an off chance that a wealthy investor shows up at Shutters and just wants to commit to a $800k production, wants to kick your tires, and see that your production plan has been vetted. I agree it happens much less frequently that way, but truly, AFM attracts all kinds of people. Like you, I would guess that Robert can get away with an educated guess for production plan and focus on packaging, but at AFM, anything can happen.

Douglas Eugene Mayfield

Regina. Fair enough. I'm thinking that you might be able to tell where you stand by the way the conversation is going. So if "a wealthy investor shows up at Shutters and just wants to commit to a $800k production", I suspect that you would get the drift and be able to give an estimate. But you're right. You have to be prepared for almost anything.

Maura Anderson

Hi Robert, if you are still looking for someone to do this, please email me at maura.anderson1@gmail.com I am a professional producer and line producer that has completed upwards of 100 schedules/budgets for projects and would be interested in helping.

Amanda Toney

Hi Robert, Maura is actually teaching a class on this starting next week that will go in-depth on budgets, cash flows and cost reports. You should definitely look into joining it: https://www.stage32.com/classes/Budgets-Cash-Flows-and-Cost-Reports

Regina Lee

Hi Maura, congrats on Winter's Bone. One of the best movies I've ever seen at Sundance. Bravo!! What was Quentin's quote? Something like, "Who knew the tensest movie of the year would be this little movie"?

Robert Destefano

Maura:I will take your word for it and will send you an email as soon as possible sometime this week! Thank you so much! Shannon: I received emails about this so I'll try my best to see if I could watch the webinar.

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