The never ending blackhole. No matter how much you feed the beast it always wants more. At times it’s seems like a never ending expense. Those hidden fees you weren’t expecting pop-up and at some point you got to get your film budget under control!

Here are my top 10 things that $!£₩ Up Your Film Budget, if you don’t plan for them.

1. Assumptions

“Hey, my uncle owns a restaurant and he can hook us up with food”. “My friend owns a ranch and he will let us shoot there for free”. We have all heard it before. People come with good intentions but fall short. So plan for it. Budget for it. Budget for retail but never pay it. Get it on paper and set money aside for it. Once there is legal documentation and a modest fee involved people as less likely to break their word.

2. Contingency

Think of your contingency as your emergency fund. Your back up money. That the extra cash for a rainy day. Guess what it’s going to pour from time to time! Depending on your experience and the scale of your production, you want to allocate about 5% to 15% on top of your total budget. All films go over budget and this is the backup plan.

3. Film Deliverables

So you finish your film and a distribution company wants it! Even if you decide to do some form of self distribution you have to budget for deliverables. Depending on your deal or strategy you have to set aside about $8,000.00 to $15,000.00. Deliverables include master tape, qc report, high res HD, M & E (music and effects), closed caption etc. This covers DVD, VOD, Broadcasting, International etc. Also errors and omissions insurance.

4. Entertainment Lawyer

You got sued! Nobody wants this. This is one of the major things that can hinder you film from being shown. You need contracts for everybody and for everything. From the script to actors, crew, music, distribution, investors etc. Depending on your production, set aside $5,000.00 to $15,000.00. Don’t do it yourself or use contract templates without having an entertainment lawyer approve it.

5. Payroll/Workers Comp

To hire independent contractors or to use a film payroll service, that is the question. This is to complex to go into detail but in my opinion do payroll. You can open a can of worms using independent contracting. Plus you need workers comp to cover crew and cast in case of injury.

6. Craft Service/Meals

You got an army and you have to feed them. Ever notice how quickly those bottle of waters disappear. Probably not, at least not until you pay for them. These two are notorious for taking chunks of money a little at a time. Little ninjas. Separate them. They are two different categories. Meals include breakfast and lunch. Craft service are healthy snacks, drinks, coffee etc. Those little extra boosts to keep you going.

7. Production Insurance

Actually one of the least expensive but one of the most ignored. Insurance covers property, equipment, accidents, thefts, rentals etc. You can cover your whole production for about $3,500.00 to $5,000.00 and it is worth it!

8. Marketing

Social media can only take you so far. You got to grab the attention of an ever fickle audience. You need to create noise loud enough for people to pay attention. Hire a publicist to get you that exposure your film needs. Buy alternative newspaper ads, Web banners, Facebook ads, magazine ads, TV trailers. This cost money but if nobody knows about your film outside of your family, friends, cast and crew then it’s will get lost in oblivion.

9. Film Festivals

What’s the point of making your film if an audience isn’t going to see it and appreciate it. Set aside money for your top 25 film festival entry fees and 2-5 festivals to actually physical attend. Especially if it’s out of state. The people you meet and will network with is worth the cost.

10. Hiring The Wrong Crew

At some point in your career you will work with a psychopath. Do your due diligence! Ask around before hiring someone you haven’t worked with. Sometimes even those friends and colleagues are just not right for your current film. If you previous DP loves horrors and you are shooting a comedy most likely you are going to miss the boat.

Bonus! Wrap Party!

Don’t be a cheap bastard, give your cast and crew a wrap party! Save a little extra for one night of shenanigans. It’s a small token of gratitude that will carry good vibes. Great time to invite the media, potential investors, colleagues, supporters and your future audience.

Remember there is always a creative way to go about budgeting but you need a backup plan.

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