Three Ways To Cut Your Movie Budget (And Increase Production Value)

Can you cut your movie budget and still make your film? Coming up with an accurate film budget can be a sobering experience. You either find out that you need to raise more money or cut your budget entirely.

And if you’re anything like most independent filmmakers, both options suck.

But don’t worry. I’m here to help you find ways to cut your movie budget, while actually increasing your production value. And heck, you might even apply one of these ideas to your movie project and come up with an even more awesome, creative solution than what you initially thought about.

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Cut Your Movie Budget (first things first. . .)

If you’ve been following filmmaking stuff for any length of time, you know how much I enjoy helping you become entrepreneurial in your filmmaking. And as an entrepreneurial filmmaker, it is important to understand that there are a lot of ways to bootstrap your movie (and STAY SAFE on set) even before you take time to raise money to make your movie.

Your initial breakdown and schedule will organize the elements of your movie into smaller, more manageable chunks. This is an important step because it allows you to analyze the scope, scale and availability of your elements.

Once you have your initial breakdown and schedule, you will then get an idea of how all of these variables will fit into some sort of schedule. After you sorted out your elements and your schedule, you’ll then take the information and plug it into your budget.

Here’s a short video I put together (a few years back, but it’s still relevant) for you with ways to cut your movie budget.

Assuming you’ve planned for an ideal execution of your movie, most likely your project will cost considerably more than the money you actually have. As I mentioned earlier, when this happens, you have two choices:

  1. Get more money.
  2. Cut the budget!

Three Ways To Cut Your Movie Budget

Assuming you’re not going to get any more money, here are three methods you can utilize to cut your movie budget without degrading the production value of the movie:

1. Revisit your network and let everyone know you’re making a movie. Provide a shopping list of everything you’re looking for. (Food, Locations, Special FX, Picture Vehicles, et al…) Chances are, someone you know, knows someone who has what you need, for FREE or at least at a discounted rate.

2. Think creatively. Even if you don’t have money, before you give up on the super awesome element, think creatively. Is there any way you can barter or trade? In small towns, sometimes the promise of free publicity is all business owner needs to offer up a location for free.

3. Modify your screenplay. If all else fails, go back to your screenplay. Yes – Having snow on the ground would set a cold mood for your story. But at 10K per day, are you sure it’s necessary for your story?

Filmmaking is a long term game. You’ll have plenty of time in your career to produce movies with unlimited budgets.

Do well with your small projects and then “level up” to bigger projects. And if you an train yourself to overcome financial shortcomings with creative alternatives NOW, including some simple ways to cut your movie budget, I wouldn’t be surprised if you continually discover magic.

It is totally amazing what you can accomplish with a little creativity. If you think about it, many aspects of filmmaking do not require much money. But here’s the kicker, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Keep this in mind as you push forward!

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About Jason Brubaker

If you'd like more tactics like the article you just read, make sure to grab a copy of the filmmaker checklist. You'll get 65 useful steps you can employ to produce your next feature film.
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