Film Budgets – Insider Tips For Film Students
Any training in the area of film budgeting will actually help you impress producers for those few film jobs, get your script into production, find financing, be rehired for more film contracts, be more cost effective cinematographers, etc. By survey, film students WANT to know more about film budgets – and, no wonder!
Film Budgeting – Insider Tips For Film Students
(Copyright 2005 – John Gaskin)
This is my 20th year working in the film industry on over 40 film productions. Throughout that time I have never met a new film school graduate who has a clue about handling the most important aspect of ALL filmmaking – the MONEY! I had always assumed (wrongly, it turns out) that film students just weren’t interested in knowing about film budgets. However after a recent survey of film students at a reputable film college we learned that film students DO intuitively understand that knowing the language of film budgeting is crucial to their careers in film. Surprisingly, over 80% were enthusiastic about learning more about film budgeting!
Here’s what we discovered from that survey (completed in late September, 2005):
1.Over 80% of film students are not only interested in learning more about budgeting for film productions, they are emphatic about it!
2.In all cases, film students expect to find information about film budgeting from the internet, or as recommended reading from their professors.
3.We also learned that there are no references or books available to film schools or film students on this very needed subject.
Those working in the film business recognize how important it is to be familiar with film budgeting, if not technically proficient. The confidentiality of film budgets makes it extremely difficult, even for working filmmakers, to get familiar with film budgeting. (I have a true story in my book about a meeting that I had with Ron Howard in 1993 where he wanted to learn specifics about the budget for his film – in spite of having been in the film business for over 30 years as an actor and budding director).
Learning about film budgets while on-the-job comes at the expense of hard-knocks, expensive film budgeting software and late night self-training with a technical textbook (if you can find one). In the 20 years that I’ve been working in the film business, I have NEVER shown a film budget to anyone but a select few insiders – Producers, Production Managers, Studios, Bonding Companies, etc. So, exposure to actual film budgets really is an insider’s privilege – which I am about to open the door to for my readers. (Keep in mind the figures shown are samples only. The figures are real enough, but are not drawn from my actual past/present/future film productions.)
How can film students get familiar with film budgets while they have the time and opportunity? The only colleges with film budgeting in their syllabus (that I could find after hours of internet searching) was in a specialty course for Production Managers at the New York Film Academy, and through mentors at the American Film Institute (where, I’m proud to say, parts of my book are being used by a mentor there, who has a long record of producing films including a term as Vice President of Production at MGM).
The only solution that I see for film students, and for working film crew, to get familiar with film budgeting is to provide them with the information myself. But, what kind of information, and at what level of detail?
The answer to that rhetorical question is – in as simple a format as possible, yet still be effective. By effective, I mean that any training in the area of film budgeting will actually help you impress producers for those few film jobs, get your script into production, find financing, be rehired for more film contracts, be more cost effective cinematographers, etc. Also, the basic concept of translating creative ideas into a budgeting process is new to most people, especially those educated in film schools, so that concept should be presented first.
Film students don’t need to become keen budget technicians. However, they DO need to get enough exposure to film budgets to understand the fundamentals, and to be able to communicate to film producers, film studios, bonding companies, banks, financiers, etc. in the same language as would be expected from professional filmmakers.
All of the above is covered in my book, Walk The Talk. I have written a series of 7 free articles based on my book. They’re written for the complete novice, so be patient if you’ve already been exposed to film budgeting. You can sign-up, FREE, for 7 weeks of articles at www.talkfilm.biz .
There is a seventh article that could have been added for those who haven’t been exposed to the simple administrative procedures like petty cash, purchase orders, check requisitions, etc. Knowing how to use these forms will put you WAY out in front of the pack of job-hungry film students looking for those few film jobs. You’ll need to buy my book at this link Walk The Talk to get that inside advantage. (I have kept the price affordable, specifically with students in mind.)
Here are the article titles:
1.MAKING IT! In Film Production
2. Introduction to Film Budgeting
3. Translating Creative Ideas Into the Film Budgeting Process
4. Your Participation In Above-the-Line Budgeting
5. Your Participation In Below-the-Line Budgeting
6. Your Report Card – Comparing The Budget to Actual Costs
7. Presentation of the Weekly Cost Report – It’s As Important As the Dailies
When you read my articlesArticle Submission, print them out. Make your own examples. Reread them. Send me your questions if you get stuck. You’ll find that you’ll be way out in front of the pack!