My first screenplay is estimated to cost $1.5 million in total, according to a producer. Is that too much risk for an independent production company to consider?
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It's too much for an independent prodCo with only $500,000 to $800,000 to spend. But an independent prodCo with a $2 million budget will find it a bargain. Like any project it depends on many factors. It may be exactly right for some independent production company to consider.
Why would you be concerned with the budget, Tony? Have you been asked to keep it within a budget but have now found you're over? Unless you're asked to keep to a budget, you shouldn't worry about it.
There are several innovative ways to bring costs down, if that is the objective. But you should not be overly concerned,unless you have been asked to contribute to the cost reduction at the screenplay level itself. Has he said Yes or No to you?
No. I'm getting ready to pitch the script to production companies and want to know if the cost is low enough or if I should save my time and finish a cheaper to produce script.
Tony, what budget range does the prodCo you are pitching to usual have? You're pitching to them, you have done your research. Have they made films in the $1.5 million range?
@D, I'm looking for general advice about pitching my first feature screenplay and whether the budget is too high for smaller production companies to take the risk.
Great! In general $1.5 million is too high for some and perfect for others. My advice is to do the needed research and be prepared when you go in to pitch. You never know - a small prodCo might love your script even it's a bit more expensive than what they've done in the past. And THAT will open doors. Good luck!
I don't think that you need to worry about the project being your first script, because it's either a good story well-scripted or it isn't. Producers in Britain wouldn't go out looking for more than £1m if they don't have the team to back it up - they'd start off with a lower budget, either micro (around £100k - most likely for a drama) or £250,000-£750,000 (though, I'm not sure what the scale is in America, as films do tend to have higher budgets... and not just studio films). Normally, looking at the films that had £1m+ budgets, there's at least one recognisable actor, even if it's someone most people don't actually know the name of, but that's just the way things are at the moment, and it could well change. This "opinion" comes from research.
1.5 million is almost nothing really, especially if you are working with unions. That being said, with today's technology, you can make that million go a LONG WAY. We did our feature film for under $10,000 micro budget to be sure. If you're curious about the quality, you can check it out here: http://ow.ly/LBmVR
As a writer who has produced three films, budgets can be very subjective and ways to bring a budget down through strategic rewrites. and taxes credits etc. I wouldn't worry about it if you are not planning on being the producer. As others have stated, just go out there and pitch your script with confidence and let the producers worry about the budget.
Comedies without some recognizable cast (and I don't mean your sister) are tough sells around the world, unlike thriller, action and horror genres. So if you are talking $1.5M better have at least 1 name lined up to star in the picture, or, in my view, it should be make way less than a mil. All prodcos, unless independently financed, have to go out to the market and find the money. Casting is key. Use every possible angle you can to find a name actor who brings value to the project and you will get financed.
Dick you are 100% correct but attaching talent is usually what a producer does. If a producer connects with the script, getting it in the right budget and attaching names is their job. Don't you agree? I'd be curious how the 1.5 is budgeted. What is a 'fixed' cost. Most of the budget should be towards above the line.
I'm assuming this 1.5M budget was not done formally by a line producer.
I think the paradigm is changing in this indie film world and believe writers have to act like producers (especially in the low budget arena) if they want to get their scripts produced. That said, you are right, Caytha, it is really a producer's job but if there is some meaningful elements attached when it lands in the his' inbox, the project is sure to get much more attention.
As a scriptwriter, at this stage THINK about a production budget, but don't WORRY about it. I have delusions of being a producer, so I worry about everything out to distribution and beyond, but as a writer, it ain't your call. I've a script I've been pitching that's probably going to cost several times what you're talking about to produce. I've had responses that it's too big and others that it's too small! I even made a major rewrite to make it bigger! It all depends on who's catching your pitch. Also, the production budget at this point is hugely flexible depending on decisions the producer will make -- when you have a producer.
I agree Dick and that is why I've produced three films that I wrote. That said, not every writer needs to be a producer but if you are going to start throwing budget numbers around, it's important to know what they mean. And you have to know how to make that happen - what favors to pull, what unions you need or don't need... And then there are the tax credits... Where there's a will there's a way. If a writer can get pitch meetings, they don't really have to a producer. Not all producers are writers....
Scripts can be done for almost any budget, so unless you've already done a breakdown, schedule, budget, acquired your cast, locations, equipment, etc. you don't know what the film is going to actually cost. Many times the first estimate isn't the final cost.
Thank you for the advice. I found a director interested in the film--The Other Guy--, but no producer yet. I posted the first ten pages on my profile if anyone is looking for a raunchy comedy that can be produced for about $1.5 million.