6 red flags to consider when budgeting for your film

March 2, 2019 by SARAH HICKEY

So how much does a video cost? Every project is unique with its own specific set of challenges and requirements. Sometimes what seems like a small change to the concept can drastically affect the crew, equipment or the amount of time needed to achieve the right result. This is why we need as much detail as possible about your project in order to estimate the costs accurately.

Let’s look at an example:

Say you’re planning to make a short brand video, which will involve interviewing a number of key staff at your business. This could be a simple 1 day shoot. However, you want to interview each staff member in a different location in order to showcase different aspects of your business.

But here are a few things you may not have considered when making that decision.

The time it takes to pack gear into vehicles and move to the next location may mean that your video production company no longer have time to shoot cutaway material on the same day. This could lead to adding another half or full day of production to allow for filming cutaway material.

The range of locations chosen also mean that a more extensive lighting package is required in order to cover interior, exterior and mixed lighting condition setups. None of this is a problem, but it all translates into larger budget requirements.

Below is a consolidated list of ‘red flags’. I.e. Elements of film that are highly costly, but can be relieved if other options present themselves:

Red flags from a budgetary perspective:

1. Talent: If you want to use an actor or model with representation, or someone who is a well-known actor/personality, be prepared for a high figure here. BNFs, or base-negotiated fees, can vary wildly depending on an actor’s level of experience, and the usage terms needed for your content.

2. Locations: The more locations that need to be filmed in, the more time your film will take to make. If the location is rural and requires a multi-day journey for the crew, please consider that per diems, travel and accommodation will also eat into your budget.

3. Art Direction: High level production design is another hard cost, and often involves a high level of labour, but also attention to detail in sourcing or making props, costumes and sets.

4. Period Pieces: If your film is set in a different era, and you need to alter all of the environment to suit that era, this will often cost big bucks. See ‘Art Direction’ above.

5. Improvisation: If you require a high-level of production value but want actors to improvise in a narrative piece, this involves a two camera set up (at minimum) which can essentially double an equipment hire list and add crew members to your camera department quick smart.

6. Visual Effects or Special Effects: If visual effects are required in post-production, you might be surprised by how much labour is involved in something seemingly simple. Consult an expert early in the process to manage stakeholder expectations about what's achievable within budget.


So, there you have it, a few tips and tricks to keeping your production out of the red zone if budget is an issue. So, think outside the square, and let’s reconsider the need to set your next brand film in a war zone in 1882 where we can!

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