HOLLYWOOD FILM SECRET (Your 1st Feature… 1, 2 or 3-Week Shoot)



Actually it’s not called lying. It’s called marketing and Hollywood is 70% a marketing industry and 30% a filmmaking industry… with the biggest lie (oops. marketing) existing in the announcement of a film’s budget.

And as they, they being studios, networks and platforms (aka: Hollywood), love telling (marketing) everybody what their budget is or was for the forthcoming project they are trying (marketing) to get you to see whether through purchasing a ticket (pre-Covid-19) or through Streaming or Downloading… they’ve learned that the higher the number, the bigger the budget, the more likely it is that you will see it, rent it purchase it, download it.

(The Budget is what?)


Thus, they love inflating (marketing) the budget 300-500%, from the actual physical cost (old days… “negative cost”) of manufacturing, when asked… and if the reporter/interviewer asks the budget and the marketeer announces a humungous number ($100M, $200M, $Half-a-Bill, etc) then the reporter/interviewer asks once again the studio marketer will state the same number but add “JUST UNDER”…

Just under… Just under… Just under… G-d I love “just under” for it encompasses so much.

Isn’t it amazing how many movies have budgets that are “just under” $100 Mil, or $30-50 Mil, or $10 Mil and for your your first shoot, your first movie, your budget is going to be “just under” $1 Mil… and there are a about $999,999 numbers “just under” $1 Mil.

Welcome to Hollywood… and welcome to making your first “Million Dollar Feature Film”… that is actually “just under-a-mill”… which is any number you want.


When I present my “2-Day Film School” which, due to Covid-19, is on hold  in the first 10 minutes of the first day of the class I ask everyone to write on a piece of paper the budget for their first feature film.

Everyone being a bit naive has spent the last 5-10 years hearing Hollywood Execs, Producers & Directors stating budgets and saying things like a low-budget feature at the studios is now $20-25 Million.

($20-25 Million Movie are made for $1.0-1.5M)


$20-25 Million? That’s a lot of money. $15-20 Mil is a lot of money. So is $12-15 Mill, $10-12 Mill, $7-10 Mill, $5-7 Mill, $3-5 Mill, $2-3 Mill, $1-2 Mill….

My job as a film instructor is to first get the students, mostly mature adults, that are enamored by this art form called Hollywood, to realize it’s a business and that when the words “Low-Budget” are bantered that $20-25 Mill is not Low-Budget… Nor is $3-5 Mill or even $1 Mill.

Thus, when the class starts on Saturday, within 10 minutes I demand that everyone write down on a sheet of paper what their budget is for their first feature film… which of course they think is low-budget.

Then I tell them (1) look at the number you write… then I say (2) cut that number in half… then I say (3) move the decimal point one place to the left.

Then I say, “That’s your budget for your first feature film”

So if a student thought the budget for his first Low-Budget feature was $2-3 Mill then after cutting it in half and moving the decimal it becomes $100,000-150,000… which is still a lot of money but enough for a 2-week shoot.

Welcome to Hollywood… the world’s greatest marketing industry.

I hope you order my Streaming Film School to get the real numbers, costs, shortcuts and tricks as you produce and/or direct your first independent feature film on budgets of $20-50K (1-week shoot), or $100-200K (2-week shoot) or $200-300K (3-week shoot)… which are all, when asked “What’s your budget” you can replay “Just Under A Mill”.

PS: If you want to make a $20-25 Million movie then all you need is $1 to 1.5 Mill, which is still a lot of money, do a 5-week shoot, with SAG-AFTRA and possibly WGA, with 3 Reds and an A-list TV Name, for 1-week at $100 thou, and a B-List movie name for 2-weeks at $100 thou, keeping $50 thou left for promoting at Festivals.

Happy Filmmaking,

Dov Simens / Film Instructor



Want to Produce, Write or Direct?

Graduates of my Streaming Film School in the last two decades have launched 1,000s of careers… Now it is your turn.


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