Anything Goes : Budget forcasting by Leanne Campbell

Leanne Campbell

Budget forcasting

Is there a program that I can use to estimate a films budget? Or should I just look for someone to be an executive producer to work out the budget? I need to know how much is the minimum cost of producing each film.

Michael Wearing

I use Movie Magic. It is worth the cost. Suggest you get both the budgeting and scheduling software. It will save you a vast amount of time and effort .

Ken Larson

That's what producers do is work out budgets and schedules.

Jon Bonnell

You won't get an executive producer without a budget (they are your money people) but you can try to find a UPM that will put together your budget for you. Breaking down a script is 1/2 the battle. Knowing what things cost is the other 1/2. There are services that will get you started, but by no means are they accurate and complete. You can try to get a starter budget. Nothing beats experience, though. Also, creating a budget is a tiresome task. Not too many people will do it for free unless they really believe in your project. Unfortunately, that's the truth.

Royce Allen Dudley

I work at many budget levels, and my approach to budgeting is to find the correct cost, rather than the minimum cost. Kind of like taking the family to Disneyland on the cheap, egg sandwiches packed.... it spoils the trip from the start. You know it will cost money, so plan to spend reasonably and have fun. If you plan to spend a "correct" amount, you can then manage to cut corners where you see fit, and still enjoy the process.. and have some padding for when problems arise, which they will, always. Things cost what they cost. Now that is not to say the same film cannot be made at many budgets.. it can... but an educated analysis may yield the information to steer your choices correctly; "Film XYZ can be made for $10,000, or $100,000 , but in it's specific case, spending $54,500 is the smartest budget, for these reasons..." And then at the end of the day, you or a financier need to agree with it. If you let 10 experienced UPMS budget your film, you will get 10 different budgets but most will be similar. My best budgeting advice : Go backwards from the goal. What do you want this film to do ? Be sold with talent attached to a studio ? It needs a multi million dollar budget. You want it crowdfunded ? Very dicey- you need a low enough number to reach full funding, but not look greedy or scare away backers. You just want to know for the saek of learning ? That's smart. And when you know the budgets of several scripts, you can better guess budgets in future. One last thing- professional producers know a bogus budget the minute they see it. There is nothing worse than a guessed-at top sheet. If the departmental budget ratios are way out of whack it makes your budget look amateur, regardless of the dollar amount. If the budget is so low that many donations are involved, then create a budget inlcuding the value of those things, and then subtract them out. That way you can honestly say "I Have a $50,000 film budget and $40,000 of in kind donations and deferral committed, so I only really need $10K... I am 80% there !" That's more impressive than saing " Yeah I need $10K and I can do this all myself and on a couple favors." But it also keeps you honest as a producer- you are respecting the value of those investments by others, and before you then even start know you need to sell it for $50 K and pay out to break even. Cheers

Rian Bishop

You can use Movie Magic, Showbiz or Gorilla software to figure our your budgeting and scheduling in conjunction with labor guides etc. Or you can use something like to give you an overall (estimated) cost of what your production might run. QFB is a quick alternative but won't be an exacting number. If you need to be right down on the nuts and bolts of a production, best to get a UPM that knows their stuff to give you a hardline budget.

Donna L. Rentz Ceo

Hi Rian, can those same sites be used for theatrical budgeting as well or do you know some that are specifically geared to theatrical productions?

Rian Bishop

Hi Donna, Yes they can pretty much be used across the board. The programs like Quick Film Budget use variables, so for instance they'll ask you things like the genre of the film, how many days of shooting etc and then will generate a fairly accurate account of what the budget may look like. Of course the only way to get a dead on accurate budget is to have someone go over it line by line with something like Movie Magic or one of the others. Sometimes there's just too many variables for a program to determine, but it's not a bad jumping off point either.

bob gustafson

Chimpanzee software, a decent solution for student filmmakers and small productions.

B.D. Gunnell

You actually should look to hire a Line Producer. It is their job to give you an accurate budget and then (if involved in production) oversee each line item in that budget, hire your crew, and see that the film comes in on-time and on-budget. (FYI - an Executive Producer is typically the person who gives you money or connects you with money. Most times they have absolutely NO CLUE how much a movie costs until you tell them so)

Mark Ratering

Have to get a producer. I will look at it if you want me to Mark

Ken Koh

There's a book called Film & Video Budgets by Deke Simon you can look at. It has sample budgets you can learn from, and alter if all you need is something to fundraise with. If nothing else pans out for u, or you can't afford it, I'll help u out.

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