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  • Eric Temple

How we Create a Budget

Just like a script, the budget is a road map to a production. Since most of us create projects for clients, it's important to have a realistic, transparent budget that can be easily explained to someone less familiar with the process. My advice is is to discuss the project with the client to determine their goals for the video and who the audience is. Be sure to settle on a reasonable length for the video and understand how it will be used. I always create a "best case scenario" budget that includes everything I would like have in the production. I calculate the number of shooting days and use the full day rate of the crew I intend to hire. If I intend to double up and do two jobs myself (like writing and editing, for example,) I still budget each task separately in case I am unable to work on the project personally. I want every position to be fair market value so I can find a top crew no matter what obstacles may arise. I also build in a 10% contingency fee just in case. I don't want to have to cut into my own fee if the weather is bad or the talent gets sick. Once I have a reasonable budget prepared, I present it to the client along with a proposal that presents both my vision for the project and an explanation of the budget assumptions. Of course clients may change their minds about certain aspects of the production once they see the final cost, so be prepared to revise the budget accordingly. If you are self employed or work for a production company, be sure to build your profit into the budget. This is above and beyond everyone's day rate and should be reasonable and transparent. Once everyone agrees on the final numbers, it's time to begin the next phase of prereproduction. My advice is to keep the client in the loop throughout each phase of the project to avoid unpleasant surprises on either end. And if the client has unrealistic expectations for the project given the final budget, be honest about it with yourself and your client. Don't be afraid to walk away if you're being asked to produce a blockbuster film on a shoestring. We're all in this to make a living. It's a different story if it's your own passion project, but that's advice for another time. Good luck!

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