$50,000-$70,000 FEATURE FILM (aka: Mini-Budget Filmmaking)
by Dov S-S Simens on June 19, 2015
The $50-$70K Mini-Budget FEATURE FILM
Producing the $50,000-$70,000 Mini-Budget Feature Film:
First off, with access to this amount of money, independent of the film industry, this allows you to expand from a 1-week shoot (see prior posts) and now schedule a 2-week (13-Day) production with a more manageable shooting schedule of 7 pages/day, rather than a 1-week (7-Day) shoot with it’s 12-13 page/day shooting schedule..
PLUS: For Feature Film Budgets of “$1,000-$10,000”, “$10,000-$20,000”, “$20,000-$30,000” & “$30,000-$50,000” budgets (prior posts) you have been planning a power-through, 1-week shoot with 90% of the setups being Master Shots obtained with 1-take that inhibits the actors performance, while obtaining essential coverage… But it is the best that you can do.
However, with $50,000-$70,000, you can afford a 2-week shoot…. More time for lighting, rehearsal time for actors and a livable schedule (90-page script, 13-day shoot) of 7 pages/day… or 1-page in-the-can every 2 hours schedule permitting the actors 2nd takes when needed as well as permitting the director to say “Lets do 1 more take for insurance”. More takes. Better performances… Better performances. Better movie…. More time. Better lighting…. Better Lighting. Better movie… More money. Better crew. Better crew. Better movie…
The 2-Week Shoot: The Benefits
The 1-week shoot needs 1-location.
The 2-week shoot can have a more expansive story with 3-4 locations. (BENEFIT: Better Storytelling) S
The 1-week shoot is a Shooting Schedule of 12 Pages/day.
The 2-week shoot is a Shooting Schedule of 7 pages/day (BENEFIT: Better Coverage)
The 1-week shoot you treat actors like props.
The 2-week shoot you permit Two and sometimes Three Takes (BENEFIT: Better Acting)
The 1-week shoot allows 5-7 minutes between setups for Lighting.
The 2-week Shoot allows 12-15 minutes for Lighting (BENEFIT: Better Visual Look)
CREW & SHOOT:
The 1-week shoot is a 15-18 Hour/workday.
The 2-week Shoot is a 12-15 Hour/workday. (BENEFIT: Happier & More Productive Crew)
The 1-week shoot is 90% Master Shots.
The 2-week shoot is 50% Masters, with 40% Mediums & 10% Close-ups (BENEFIT: Better Coverage)
The 1-week shoot only allows an Editor 3-weeks for 3 cuts.
The 2-week shoot allows an Editor 5-weeks for 5 cuts plus an Assistant Editor (BENEFIT: Better Edit)
The 1-week shoot only permits 1 Day of ADR, 1-Day or Foley & 5 Days to Mix.
The 2-Week Shoot doubles the Post Time (BENEFIT: Better Final Picture)
The biggest benefits that the 2-week shoot provides over the 1-week shoot are (A) better work hours, (B) More Takes, (C) Better Acting Performances, (D) Better Lighting, (E) more Expansive Story and More Time during the post-production process for Edit, ADR, Foley, Music & Mix… End Product Benefit…
“A much better movie”.
However, always be realistic, and dreaming how to make your first feature “the-right-way” (according to those 2-4 year theory laden film programs at UCLA, USC, NYU & AFI) usually means you will “never-make-one” because you likely will not get the “right-amount-of-money” to make a feature film “the-right-way” and although it is my strong belief that your first feature film you wither Produce or Direct will be a 1-week shoot it is still possible to come up with $50,000-$70,000 and have enough cash, especially with Crowd Funding, to make a Mini-Budget (2-week) Feature Film for your first project.
How to Spend $50,000-$70,000 for a Mini-Budget Feature Film.
$1,000-$5,000 (SCRIPT): Either write it yourself or hire a writer at $300-$400/week. 5-weeks 1st Draft. 3-weeks 2nd Draft
$1,000-$2,000 (CASTING): Hiring a Casting Director. Working with Breakdown services & Cast Now for a 5-day casting process
$4,000-$5,000 (ACTORS): Paying Actors $1,000/Week for Leads and $200/Day for Bit Parts and $50/day for Extras
$2,000-$3,000 (PRE-PRODUCTION): 3-weeks Scouting, Rehearsing, Crewing & Planning
$15,000-$18,000 (CREW): 12-15 Person Crew: Paying $1,000/week for Keys (DP, PM & PD) & $300/week for Secondary
$5,000-$7,000 (EQUIPMENT/VENDORS): Cameras, Grip, Lights, Dolly for 2-weeks
$2,000-$3,000 (LOCATIONS): Paying $100-$200/Day or $1,000/Week to rent practical locations
$3,000-$5,000 (FOOD): Feeding 15-20 people at $200-$300/day
$2,000-$3,000 (EXPENDABLES/MISCELLANEOUS): Filters, Gels, Batteries, Gas, Gratuities, Thank Yous
$2,000-$3,000 (PICKUPS/RE-SHOOTS): You always have to go back for a day or two and re-shoot. Budget for it.
$8,000-$11,000 (POST-PRODUCTION): Lab Work, Editors, Audio Post, ADR, Foley, Music, etc.
$2,000-$4,000 (PUBLICITY/FESTIVALS): No private screenings. Premiere at a Tier 1 Global Film Festival.
$3,000-???? (MURPHYS LAW): There is always going to be problems that $100 Benjamins are needed to handle.
Is this the only way to spend $50,000-$70,000 to make a Feature Film?
Of course not. There are many ways to allocate $50-$70K to make a movie.
Every production, every shoot has it’s uniqueness’s.
Spend more for casting… Pay actors more… Pay more for a script… Rent a Stage & Build a set… You might opt to purchase a DSLR camera or two… You might schedule, instead of 2-weeks straight, a 1-week shoot and then 2-3 weekends over the next 2 months… You can give your editor more time… you can budget money for a better score… You might want to hire a publicist. etc. etc. etc.
However, what I have just given you is a cost-effective blue-print, a foundation, a roadmap, for a 2-week shoot and hopefully stimulated you into action with why a 2-week shoot (assuming you can get more money) is better than a 1-day “no-budget” shoot, or a 1-week”micro-budget” shoot, or a multi-weekend “credit-card” shoot, or a “shot-for” 1-week shoot that isn’t done…
A 2-week shoot is almost always better than a 1-week shot but it assumes that you have, at a minimum, access to $50,000-$70,000.
Dov S-S Simens / Dean / Hollywood Film Institute
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