Producing : What's Your Budget? Who Cares! by Shane Stanley

Shane Stanley

What's Your Budget? Who Cares!

I just got finished doing a Producing seminar and I'd say 99% of the gang was stuck on getting their film made because of a budget they've decided it needed to be and cannot come up with the money. Who set your budget, I'd ask? All of them admit to placing that self-imposed price tag on the project which, if you're seeking private equity may be a bit of a stretch to put it kindly. I'm reminded of when my father, Lee Stanley had put a $1M price tag on his big labor of love, "Desperate Passage" (back in the mid-80s) and after 4 fruitless years, he finally got the call. We drove up to Moniesito where a wealthy friend of the family lived and he said he was tired of watching my father talk about his dream without bearing any fruit. He handed over an envelope and said, "Go make your movie!" We got into the car (would'a popped champagne if we had it) and when dad opened the envelope, it had $25,000 in it. Assuming this gentleman was going to put us on a draw payment schedule, my father went back to ask when we'd see the rest of it? A minute or three later, he returned with his head slung low and said, "That's all he would give us. He told us to figure it out and go make your movie!" Well, guess what? We did. Mom, Dad, and I went out, gathered some cheap, borrowed gear and a crew of 4, and made the film. It took 2 yrs for anyone to even watch it after it was done but then a miracle happened. Steve Bell, former Pres. of KTLA somehow saw it, called us into his office and said he wanted to make it the biggest event on television. And he did just that. Michael Landon signed on to the project to open and close it and the show went #1 in the Nielson ratings (twice) and was nominated for 4 Emmys, winning 2 and launched the "Desperate Passage Series", where we did 6 more which gathered 33 Emmy noms and won 13 of those little ladies. And the budgets for the other 6 shows never exceeded $200,000 "Gridiron Gang" was part of that series, which went on to be re-made with SONY Pictures starring Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson and was a #1 blockbuster hit. I tell you guys this simply to encourage you. We have more resources now than ever to make movies look good on a shoestring budget. Don't look at what you want to make something for, grit your teeth and figure out what it'll take to really get it done. I promise you, you'll get a lot more movies made and better, each one will be a stepping stone to the next which can have a bigger budget and a lot better chance to get you where you want to be, rather than talking about it. You've got this! Now let's go make some movies! xo

Shadow Dragu-Mihai

My comment in your other lounge post duplicating this one.

Jason Parker

Thanks Shane, for the encouraging advice. I'm just putting the finishing touches to my first feature, that we managed to make for less than £10,000 here in the UK. During pre-production, I took it to a producer who had budgeted the film at £100,000 and told me to come back once I had more projects under my belt. But I thought "screw it, I'll make it anyway".

Cherelynn Baker

...and...that's awesome

Vital Butinar

Jason Parker that's great. Congratulations!

I'm just in the process of developing a feature that I'd like to find a creative way to fund.

I actually have some ideas.

Shane Stanley

That is great, Jason and exactly what I’m trying to show here. Wishing you much success with your project and always.

Karen "Kay" Ross

Love, love, LOVE this! I think part of the voice of fear that creeps into our creative process comes in the guise as practicality. For me, it's the human resource. I miss having a posse, like what I formed when I was in film school. We'd get together regularly and write, shoot, edit. Being surrounded by those "why not" people really helped to put to bed that nagging "practical" voice. I really feel strong, like I don't worry about the money, when I have my people, ya know?

Michael LaVoie

Curious, At this producing seminar, did you touch on whether presales for 1-3M indies is still a viable component of production financing? Assuming you have some relevant names and faces of course. Who are some of the main distributors still striking deals like that where they can engage in preselling foreign and domestic rights and advance you some of that for the actual budget when your budget is Tier 0? Or is that totally unheard of now? If there are some distributors that do production financing at that level, I'm sure many people here including myself would love to know.

Luca Caserta

Good point of view! It's easier to be stuck in search for money for your movie, than doing it on a small budget and on a wise and well organized production scheduling.

Amer Darwich

exactly shane stanley , life is full of surprises even though when someone dont see full picture being surround with limited decission . it all starts with first move and everything becomes easier over time , at sametime as they say that there is only once chance in your life you are gonna get biggest opportunity . at this moment i am trying to make connections as much i can so people can see my work for better future . i wish everybody luck with their projects.. at this moment i am working on film projects as a composer for low budget as a start if anyone is interested please let me know. shane stanley how many years it took you starting making movies for low budget until you started getting into well paid movie projects ?

William Joseph Hill

That's such a great story Shane! It just goes to show you that sometimes limitations can help you realize that there are no limits to making your dream come true; you just have to find a way to play the cards you're dealt.

Shane Stanley

Thanks Amer. I think the ups and downs of budgets, especially now, will continue. I’d say during and after the series I mentioned all sorts of offers and opportunities came flooding in but it came down to deciphering through all the BS and finding your sweet spot and doing what you love to do with those you love working with. I think everyone has a different definition of this - you’ll know when ya know, ya know? :)

Amer Darwich

yes shane stanley :D.

Amer Darwich

it is all about good understanding and amazing teamwork between these 4 film director+film producer+composer+ sound engineer . i have seen few videos interview between film directors orvideo games directors with composer , what i have learned from them that good understanding and same style of music , there wont be any difficulties in finishing film after deadline . thats why i like to see what is film director vision to make sure if my style fits well with his style.

also i have already seen my friends in SAE institute while studying audio engineer , they already blaming each other for mistake that is already being done in film projects between film director and producer. it is taugh industry after all . it takes alot of time and patience even tough it is well paid process if you have good connections lol

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