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Monday, October 27, 2008

From the Mailbag

Dear Wave-inatrix: I was wondering if it was possible for you to explain on the RW how movie budgeting works. I don't quite know how to figure out if my script is a low-budget or a high budget one. What budgeting factors should I take into consideration when developing my idea before I dive into writing the script?
Languishing in Lillehammer

Dear Lillehammer:

Andrew Zinnes here. As the sort of production person at TSD, Julie asked me to answer your budgeting questions.

What makes a script expensive are the following - lots of locations (especially exotic), lots of characters, huge movie stars, animals, lots of stunts, visual effects, pyrotechnics, children, rain & snow and large set pieces. All of these things require a huge crew, multiple cameras, lots of travel, long post-production phases, long pre-production phases (for testing things) and lots of insurance! Movie star salaries and fees for the producers eat up a lot of a budget too. Due to this you can see why something like Batman would be in the $150-$200 million range. And I'm not even including marketing, advertising, etc.

So the cheapest film would be one with 1-3 main characters in one or two locations with very little special effects or stunts. If the characters aren't stars, you can save money too. But the only way that will work is if you go with something like horror or a thriller where the genre attracts viewers by itself. You can do a small drama or comedy too as they don't require any of the expensive stuff. These tend to be more film festival films though. So something like Little Miss Sunshine or Half Nelson might come under this heading. I believe those films were made for under $10 million.

A good thing to do to get an idea of what the budget range of films are is to go to IMDB (The Internet Movie Database) and enter in some of your most recent favorite films. Then go to the business/boxoffice section and see what the budget is.

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1 comment:

Désirée said...

I wrote a short script (6 pages) that included computer generated special effects. And these effects were vital.

Everybody liked the script, but no one had the budget. If you are interested in doing a 6-minutes movie, you are generally short of money.