In this article, we look at how to create a film budget breakdown including a free film budget template (at the bottom) to use on your own projects.
Calculating the budget of your film is a complicated task.
Even so, it is an essential skill for all filmmakers to learn. After all, you will need to complete a film budget breakdown before you secure funding for your film.
Film budgeting can be confusing at first since there are many components that make up a film. But don’t worry, you will get the hang of this with practice!
Film Budget Breakdown
On a professional film set, it’s the line producer or production manager who prepares the film budget. They will do this by using software such as Movie Magic Budgeting, StudioBinder, Celtx or Gorilla Budgeting.
However, if you are an independent producer (or don’t have a software budget), you can do this for free. Either by using pen and paper, an excel document or with our free film budget template (below).
As a filmmaker, you need to have some idea in the development stage of what your budget total is. At least before you search for funding, and when you choose your script, you will have a general idea.
After you have chosen your script, you will need to complete a script breakdown. A script breakdown is a process of listing each scene’s elements in detail to decide how much each scene will cost to produce.
Scene elements include actors, props, locations, special effects and much more. Go through each scene and take notes of every element.
Below is a list of essential elements to consider when carrying out your film budget breakdown.
Cast & Crew
Unless your film is heavy in CGI, your most expensive cost will be your cast and crew wages. Firstly, the cast will be going off what their union recommends, for UK based actors, this is Equity.
When hiring a film crew, you can use the guidelines set in particular by BECTU. You will need to find your above-the-line team first, aka crew you need to hire before you can start pre-production.
Above-The-Line Film Crew:
- Director Of Photography
- Production Designer
Nevertheless, both actors and crew are self-employed, so you will need to negotiate rates. To begin with, when filling out your free film budget template, you can estimate wages and update later. Before hiring anyone, you should have a basic idea of your budget type (no-budget, low-budget, medium).
Even if you are making a low-budget film, you need to provide travel expenses, equipment rental and food.
There are several elements to consider in your pre-production film budget breakdown. Once you have hired your crew, they will begin prep. All departments will need prep time, especially your above-the-line team. For example, the production designer will need to start constructing sets and sourcing props.
Casting a film will also have hidden costs such as hiring out an audition room or paying for advertisements. You might also need to hire out a production office and supplies (for instance internet access, paper and printer costs).
Scouting locations will be a high cost during pre-production. Remember, you can jot all of these elements down in our free film budget template below.
Your production will be the most expensive filmmaking stage. As well as wages, there are many elements you need to consider.
Firstly, accommodation for your cast and crew, catering and travel expenses.
Secondly, your film department’s costs, such as costume, art and make-up. Then the technical expenses include hiring film equipment, power sources and studio costs. Lastly comes your paperwork, insurance, permits and contracts.
Your film budget breakdown and the elements listed in our free film budget template will change, especially during production.
So, when you are first making your budget, research and estimate how much these elements will cost. Also, during production, it’s a good idea to hire an accountant or allocate someone to keep track of spending.
Many independent filmmakers forget the post and distribution stages in their original budget plan. But you will need to prepare for these costs before you make your film. Post-production expenses include your editor, hard drives and sound design.
You will also want to hire an editor and composer in advance. In addition to music rights, office costs and an experienced sound designer. You can use our free film budget template to work through these elements.
Distribution can be an expensive process, even for low-budget filmmakers. You will need to put money aside for film festival submissions and marketing costs. Not to mention, additional fees such as hiring a sales agent and PR team.
After you have gone through your script elements and tallied up your costs, you can calculate a budget total. When you break it all down, it does not have to be too complicated to estimate your film budget.
Free Film Budget Template Download
Also, check out our library of other free production templates 😉
Wrapping Up – Film Budget Breakdown
Your budget will alter throughout production, and it’s typical to go through several budget breakdowns. With this in mind, take your time. Keep re-drafting and going over all of the elements until you feel confident with your budget total.
Are you making a film? What will be your budget range? Tell us about the project, and we will answer any of your questions.