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Messages posted since 08/24/2014

Topic: Film Budget Form

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 08/08/08 12:00 AM

Does anyone have a blank budget form they could share with me?



Author: Paula Smith Posted: 08/08/08 08:34 AM

I build my budgets in excel. I bought Gorilla a couple years ago but it's the low-budget version. It never worked very well so I reverted to using one I built. I have the worksheets linked with each line item, etc. The last page is a "diversity" spreadsheet.

What do you need?

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 08/08/08 01:50 PM

Hi Paula,

I need a blank budget form. The film is budgeted at 500K and doesn't have much travel or any special effects. There is a major music component.

Would you be willing to share a copy of the form that you developed?

Thanks so much,


Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 08/08/08 02:11 PM


Using Excel and it's addition and multiplication factors is one thing, but knowing what line item to enter and an accurate cost of that item is quite another. Do you have a 1st AD yet? Many 1st AD's can put together a decent budget, but unless you are experienced in that specific field, your exercise in developing the budget may just be wishful thinking.

A $500K budget will allow you to go SAG low budget or modified low budget, depending on the total of your budget. Since you did not post a profile I don't know what area you live in or plan to shoot your film, and in many states, like Texas, you can stay basically non-union (right to work state) except for hiring SAG actors.

There are low budget spreadsheet forms for budgets, but unfortunately they aren't free.


Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 08/08/08 02:18 PM

Hi Randy,

Thanks for the info. I'm working with my state film office and I've budgeted shorts, corporate projects and television for a long time. I have spread sheets for those kind of projects, but I just want to see a blank in case there are cost associated with a feature I'm not thinking of.

I have a potential line producer who has offered to budget it for $1000. Is that reasonable?

Thanks, Heather

Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 08/08/08 03:50 PM


Thanks for the update. Sounds like you have had some very good experience in the past. I did not know. Good for you.

$1,000 for a $500K budget is about $500 too high. My 1st AD did a $1M budget for $500, but he was a shoe-in for the 1st AD job and had worked for me once and wanted to help out. A line producer may be out of your budget range with just $500K (still not sure what state you live in) which is why I suggested using an experienced 1st AD. I doubt if I would hire a line producer with only that amount of funds to operate on.

As always, the lower the budget, the more research and negotiating you have to do. I have a line producer here in Dallas that could knock down the cost of any local production and make everybody happy, including the folks to be hired. Can't pay a guy like that too much. Seriously.

Good luck.


Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 08/08/08 03:54 PM


Here's a link I found that has something you might be interested in for about $150. Good luck.

Movie Forms Pro software.

Author: Paula Smith Posted: 08/08/08 09:18 PM

Heather -I don't have your email, so send me an email.

Lots of things factor into a scripts budget. Where you live is a big factor. You can make a film in a small town in the midwest for a lot less than in LA. # of locations, interior or exterior, # of actors, what you are shooting on and if your crew will bring their own equipment, all of these play a role in cost.

Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 08/08/08 11:51 PM

Randy, thanks for the info and the link.

Paula, I have a great handle on the usual factors. There are limited locations, I've worked with a variety of crews, both with and without thier own equipment. I've supervised the casting of television and movies. I've worked with SAG. I plan to shoot in my state which has decent rebates (there are better places, but I will save more by utilizing my local connections and I have children so I don't want to go out of town)

I'm really mostly interested in seeing a blank film budget template to make sure that I've covered all my bases.

I have budgeted tons of work for the last 18 years, so I'm fairly well versed in the process. I'm really just intersted in seeing the catagoris of a typical 500K budget.

Thanks so much for all the great advice :)


Paula, I'll email.

Author: Paula Smith Posted: 08/09/08 09:04 AM

I sent you one I developed. I deleated a lot of stuff I wasn't going to use (e.g. animal wrangler). I also do not have some positions as I budgeted for a lot of PA's that I can film with some good local film students. The last page is a shooting schedule/SAG diversity that I used to help me figure how many days I would need each supporting actor and also to go with a SAG diversity.

I also had years of budgeting experience but didn't know the particular categories. I added them in and then decided I needed to pare down the budget as it wasn't a $20M budget.

Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 08/09/08 11:59 AM

Heather wrote:

"I plan to shoot in my state which has decent rebates"...

Well, that rules out you living in Texas. We have some, but OK, LA and NM have much better incentives. Our state is trying (Texas Motion Picture Alliance) but so far we fall short of anything called "decent".

I plan to shoot a SAG specific contract to protect the SAG actors, whom SAG would hit hard if they worked non-union. Several other unions will have to be used (to keep the peace...and quiet (if you know what I mean)), but TX is a "right-to-work" state.

You might consider using an existing production company (to team up with)and their blanket liability insurance to cut the costs of the coverage for equipment rentals (if you rent without insurance, they will tack on an insurance premium charge that will be a little steep). Without knowing the particulars of your script and locations I can't make any more than general suggestions to help you any more than that.

One other thing: We have found that a multiple camera shoot is less expensive than just shooting on one camera and the amount of time necessary for coverage and normal static shots.Paying a steady-cam operator with his/her own equipment is also a good investment, especially if you can schedule the steady cam shots into a group of days together. A good jib and dolly shot can turn a static shot into a "money shot" and get you better distribution after post.

Break a leg.


Author: Martin Holloway Posted: 08/09/08 12:17 PM

Randy Roberts sounds very knowlegable about Texas. I have just finished an anti-war, anti-George W. Bush script about a returning Iraq war veteran and the location is a small Texas town. It is violent, like A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE. Randy, any suggestions? I am member of WGAW.

Author: Randy Roberts Posted: 08/09/08 12:47 PM


Couple of suggestions: If it is as violent as you say, it may be a hard "R" or even "NC-17" rating, which will hurt you a lot in getting distribution. If the story is a good one and can hold together without the hard violence, a re-write to get a PG-13 is best, or a "soft" "R" rating.

Several recent anti-war movies have tanked, big time recently within the past year. Without getting into politics, can you develop your script to be character driven where the character has been through the crap of war recently and when he returns to society he fights his inner demons and wins in order to have a positive ending, so as to not beat up your audience or leave them with a bad taste in their mouth? Funny you should mention the topic, as I have a list of vets to interview for a similar story. The research I have found is to not use the recent "tankers" from the war and concentrate on the after-war story of a veteran who comes home dragging his baggage with him, but in the end can overcome his demons and actually contribute some way to society in a positive way by learning from his past experiences in war overseas.

Learn from the mistakes of others about recent war movies and move past them in order to tell a good story that is timely and probably needs to be told. Sounds like you may have a good start on that kind of story. Best of luck.


Author: Heather Hughes Posted: 08/09/08 05:58 PM

Hi Paula and Randy,

Thanks so much for your insight and help. I really appreciate it!

I live in Washington state which has a new incentive program. If you spend 500K or more they will rebate 20% of the budget.

My DP on a short I made had access to a great jib and we were allowed to rent it for $25 a day. It did add a lot to the look.

Randy, since you live in TX do you go to the Austin Screenwriting conference in October. Last year a few of us met for coffee in the lobby of the Driskill. It was tons of fun to meet fellow moviebytes pals.

Thanks again guys,


Author: Martin Holloway Posted: 08/12/08 11:07 AM

Randy, actually it is not a war story. The action takes place in small Texas town. The violence is against a gang of MS 13 members.