Budgeting a Feature: Micro - Mini (June Meeting Recap)

By: Elise Sievert Bhushan

Guest Speaker: Arthur Vincie

We starting our June meeting with lots of gratitude as The FilmakeHers are celebrating three  full years of meeting, collaborating and supporting one another. A special thanks to the starting members.

Our guest speaker Director/Producer/Line Producer Arthur Vincie focused on budgeting for a feature. With over 10 years of experience and a handout from his from his book “Preparing for Takeoff: Preproduction for the Independent Filmmaker”, he gave an informative talk with many of the insider tidbits he has learned along the way. Arthur directed and wrote the the sci-fi feature FOUND IN TIME (available on Amazon & Vudu) and the new web series THREE TREMBLING CITIES.

Arthur has found that breaking down a script in pre-production helps you get rid of the excess you don’t need in a film. It has made him a better writer, saved money, and it’s “less crap to cut in the editing room”. Even though it is a tedious process it can only help you learn in the long run.


Take your script and analyze each scene.

This is a careful read of the script (especially if you wrote it: remember all the stuff in your head that isn’t on the page that could be a potential cost) It’s about getting all the detail that's not in the script. Take each scene and turn it into a page with a list of costs by category. Example: Props, costumes, makeup, extras, stunts, locations, etc.

          You can use Software (Movie Magic Scheduling or Gorilla) or do it manually.

                   *educational discount if you graduated from a film school for software

                   *These programs can miss things. Examples:

                       If a character doesn't speak in a scene, it won’t be listed.

                       If dialogue carries over a page, it could be listed as two characters.

Find ways to save Money:

           -Cut one liners, or give lines to another person who has more lines

           -Space out extras, film can make it look bigger than it is

           -Move Interiors to outside (less location fees) and you get value with scenic outdoors

           -Not sure what category to put a cost? Put it in multiple categories

           -Not sure what something will cost: Call people to get quotes, always over estimate.

           -Montage call be several scenes. Is it stuff you are already shooting great, if it brand             new stuff then that can add to your production cost.

            -Watch for changes in location within scene

            -Phone calls scenes are two locations

            -2 pages of a phone call is actually 4 pages of coverage

            -Car scenes: Takes a long time to set up and not a lot of angles to shoot.

             Remember these are really exteriors. Where is the car? Highway, street?

Once you have analyzed your script and have a stack of sheets you need to schedule.



You now have a really good understanding of the elements of your script, plus a better idea of what will be difficult.

      A)If you are doing this manually, make a post it-note each of your sheets. (one for each scene)


                   Scene number


                   Cast (think of the people as there number: Callsheet numbers)

                  *Character report in final draft helpful.


 B) When you do schedule what are the parameters I'm operating on?

           Write down Scheduling dates of Actors (conflicts)

            Scheduling dates of Locations (conflicts)



   C) Make your piles

           Sort them first my location (will save you money)

           Start with day shoots and end with night shoots (better for crew, and union regulations)

           Recommends a 5 day shoot weeks instead or 6

           Start with exteriors end with interiors (helps in case of weather delays)

           Try to keep Actor's strung together. 4 days in row verse spread out

            *In the end though pick location over the actor in scheduling


More Tips:

-Start shoot week on Friday/Saturday so that days off are during business working hours if it’s needed.

-Weekend makes certain locations more available for shooting

-Weekdays are better for apartment scenes

-Bars and clubs better to shoot during the day, earlier in the week vs later in the week

-Mondays are great for halls for celebrations

- If you need still photos. Family photos. Find time to shoot them before it's needed on set. (Do them on a rehearsal day)

-Avoid shooting the intro, ending, or a pivotal moment of your film on the first day

-Space out big set design days, avoid two big locations in a row, Art dept. wrapping one location while needing to dress another location will be difficult and use up time

-Simple props on the first day of shooting

-Maybe rethink. Too many locations. Company moves never go smoothly



You don't usually get it right the first time.

You won’t  know how many days you need to shoot the film, until you break the script  down.  Breaking the script down will inform you how hard it will be to make and how expensive.

What's my end goal and how am I budging towards that goal?

        -A percentage needed distribution and promotion end if you want theatrical release

        -Festivals that will fly you out

         -⅓ of budget for post post festivals and distribution

         -LLC for each film, keeps money separate

         -NY LLC publication (use Albany)

Line items for distribution




       -Physical materials: one sheets, postcards

       -Business cards



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