9. Financing your project

Creativity costs money! Ask any Hollywood director and they will always say they the budget wasn’t big enough…

But you still need to plan your budget (and this is a requirement for CW2).


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A carefully crafted budget provides the pivotal roadmap for the entire production project. Whatever the expected cost, the film budget must present a plan for every pound to be spent on the production. Also, the budget sows you where you are spending the most money and helps you work out whether the spend is proportionate. (So why are you spending 80% of your budget for a 1 minute on screen? Is it worth it?)

The budget will be dictated by choices that may change dramatically depending on locations, size and prominence of cast, stunts, and the effects needed both during and after filming. For independent and guerilla filmmaking, the key is to identify the cornerstone elements of the film and build the budget around those items. If a particular location must be used to tell the story, a particular cast member becomes essential to the financing, or a special effect defines the story, then that element should be identified and its costs determined. The remainder of the budget can then be structured to keep the production in harmony with that item.

The top priority of any budget controller is firstly knowing that everything itemised on your budget list is the cheapest you can possibly find it. But this doesn’t mean scrimping on everything – take a view on where it’s worth spending money (a decent actor, hiring a screening venue, marketing, kit) –  and make sure it’s proportionate to the whole project (or going to raise your professional profile in some way).


Tips for keeping costs down:

  • Nail your project in advance. Really pin it down. Debate, discuss and deliberate. We can’t stress this enough. It is really important to have a clear vision for your film before you start making it.
  • Plan, plan, plan and then start filming. Usually the greatest proportion of the cost of a film is allocated to filming days, so if you plan these wisely you’ll definitely save money.
  • Royalty free music. Music is really important to a film, but you don’t have to spend thousands of pounds on the latest download. Use good quality royalty free music, which is much cheaper and equally as good.

Actors: A decent actor could literally be worth their weight in gold. Similarly a good contributor could make your documentary award-winning. So think about paying for talent (at least covering their expenses). If you can’t afford to pay, you need to think about the likely quality of the project.

Kit: Kit is likely to be your biggest expense. As MP students you have a fantastic resource available to you – the Media Loan shop. Make good use of it but you still need to budget for all the kit you use – like in the real world (use the rate card on Moodle) for CW2.

Think very carefully about blowing the budget on one particular bit of wow kit. Think of the ramifications of having no money for the crew/contributors –  What happens? The actors don’t turn up on time (classic behaviour when not being paid), everyone is hungry (you haven’t fed them well), everyone starts to get tired, agitated and nobody wants to stay late when the project requires it (not being paid, or fed), the film fails to hit your expectations (pissed off actors and crew make shit films)

Trust your instinct and always put talent before technology.

Link to budget templates like this;

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Every film needs money and every film is financed in it’s own unique way…What’s really important here is that you are CLEAR on who is going to watch your work, who will want to see it made.  This will help you sell your idea to and target likely donors.

  • Using a crowdfunding platform (indiegogo, crowdfunder, kickstarter)  is one way you can find funds.
  • Here are 10 other ways for you to raise money for your project.
  • Sell a credit in the film, sell “shares” for credits, sell tickets to a talk on the project’s theme or it’s production process to donors/ interested parties, sell merchandise (e.g. t-shirts) related to the film.
  • Hold fundraising events like a house party, a raffle, a car boot sale, a cake bake. Or you could ask family and friends for loans or find a sugar daddy!


Further Reading:

10 Tips for Successfully Producing a Micro-Budget Feature

10 zero budget tips from Raindance

Useful filmmaking articles and tips – http://makingthemovie.info

Articles on fundraising for film projects

A real film budget example – Annie 


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