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Financing / Crowdfunding : Budgeting by Thom Reese

Thom Reese


I'm still in a learning curve, so forgive me for asking basic questions.I'm wondering how I can determine what budget I'll need based on the screenplay. I know there are a lot of variables, but any nudges in the right direction would be appreciated. Thanks in advance for your help!!

Dan MaxXx

David Trotti is spot on :) My ultra low budget projects were funded by a Dentist and a NBA basketball player :) deep pockets.

Thom Reese

Thanks, David. Great feedback. Much appreciated.

Tasha Lewis

Budgets depend on countless factors. Visit the daily blog section and see related articles or Education Section offers a wealth of resources or FAQ Section.

Damian Lloyd

David T. is not exactly spot on. "Mumblecore territory" is in the five- or even four-digit range, eg. "Hannah Takes the Stairs" for $60,000, "In Search of a Midnight Kiss" for $25,000, "The Puffy Chair" for $15,000, "Quiet City" for $2,500.

There is considerable difference of opinion as to the dollar range of his categories -- although his categories are mostly right.

It also depends where you are. The average budget for a Hollywood feature is $70 million to $90 million USD. All those godawful Hallmark movies have an average budget of $2 million USD. In Europe the average feature budget is just over $2 million USD.

John Ellis

David Trotti offers great information. But, one question you need to ask, Thom Reese, is why are you thinking about budget? Are you going to produce it yourself?

If so, FilmBudgeteers will create a workable budget for $100, based on you answering a list of questions.

If not, if you're looking to option/sell your script, you don't really need to worry about budget at all.

Tasha Lewis

Budgets impact all aspects of the projects. I took several classes on film projects. Budgets play a role in every aspect. Discussion timeline maybe modified based on the amount of time in the pitch or the participants. Agents and managers will need the details to help structure the deal with producers and studios. Filmdaily.tv has templates as well as most grant or funding proposals.

Dan MaxXx

Hey Thom, werent you producing a micro-budget feature? What's your ballpark number for micro-budget because everyone here has their own definition/value. For example a micro-budget wrist watch purchase (to me) is under $500.

Thom Reese

Dan, yes I'm looking into doing a micro-budget film. Still learning and investigating before pulling the trigger. I'm trying to get a handle on how much it would actually cost to produce so I know what I need to raise. I'm still a newbie and on a drastic learning curve.

Dan MaxXx

Thom, Erik J gave you solid advice earlier. just do something cheaper to get the experience, or work on someone else's short or feature and pouch their cast & crew. That's how everybody learns - by working for someone else first. Before I did my first feature, I worked on music videos, commercials, shorts, features, student films, and I had 3++ years working at a top post-production facility in Los Angeles. I knew all the physical labor steps to complete a movie - from paper to final tape mastering, before I was comfortable spending my own/other people's money. I just looked at my own projects as a hobby.

Erik A. Jacobson

Thom ~ As usual, Dan M. and David T. give sound, experienced advice. You might also want to consider your target audience and the genre that will most appeal to them as well as one or two genre-appropriate B-level actors you can afford on a limited budget. A casting director and IMDBpro should be of great help in this.

Thom Reese

Thanks , all. Great words. Lots to think about.

Samuel W. Reed

There's a lot of truth in this, but it's not exact. A mumble core film for $200k? Please. & Lifetime and Hallmark movies, when produced independently and sold to those channels, should be made for $250-$400k or you aren't making any money. And there's no difference in budget between those two companies. Many of the production companies that make those films work for both, at the same budget tier. The $1.2mm film is an indie Sundance/SXSW film. Hallmark & Lifetime only put that amount into their biggest productions, if ever.

If you really want to be smart, you will backward engineer your script to match the resources you have as an indie filmmaker, and budget accordingly. Using this method I was able to spend $30,000 on a suspense thriller that I'm wrapping up now, but I went in knowing I could ask friends in the business to help post produce it for free. That would have easily been another $30,000.

The most important thing to know is that the market is completely saturated and the competition is better than ever. Watch low-budget films that have been successful to know what works (Krisha, Thunder Road, anything by the Duplass Bro's, etc). You also need to know your market before you ever start. And honestly, if you haven't yet, make a short film. It's the best learning tool you will ever get.

Damian Lloyd

Samuel R. is incorrect about the budgets of Hallmark movies. They average $1 million to $3 million.

Hayward Crawford

Just a hire a Line Producer and let them handle all that!

Brendan Nagle

Bring on a Co-Producer who is line-savvy but can still connect with you on the storytelling level to ensure the themes and story you are trying to share truly come through - logistically, not creatively - and then identify each of your own goals. If everything clicks, their script breakdown wearing a 'line producer' hat is next, then cross-reference that with the budget you privately had in mind. We all wear too many hats in this shrinking business, so it's a matter of finding the one(s) who wear the right combination the best. Basing the screenplay on one of your published works is probably a great jumping off point, too.

Samuel W. Reed

I don't know Damian Lloyd's experience, and he doesn't know mine, but I have personally written films for Larry Levinson productions who produces a ton of these films, as well as other companies in this space (MarVista, UFO, etc.) Plus, I also know a whole different producer friend who just personally shot a film for $250k and sold it to Hallmark for $400k, and it aired a few months back. That is his 3rd for them. So to throw a blanket over this conversation and say Hallmark films only cost $1 - $3 mm is ridiculous. But thanks for the shade, Damian! It's hot out!

Thom Reese

Thanks to all of you for the great feedback. Much appreciated!

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