Creating an independent film budget requires that you get very creative. Unlike studio productions, as an independent filmmaker, you have limited resources. After you break the screenplay into a schedule and a budget, you’ll quickly find the gap between the money you have and the money you need.
When it comes to fixing your independent film budget, it’s important to remember that the screenplay, schedule, and budget are part of the same larger document. If you change one element in any of these documents, you change all of them. Make sure you avoid making haphazard changes to any of the documents.
How To Fix Your Independent Film Budget
As you work to lock down your independent film budget, time is money. Take inventory of your schedule, locations, and cast. You will want to eliminate as many variables as possible. With this in mind, here are three components that impact every budget:
1. Your script: What can you change in your screenplay to get the same impact for less money? Do you need to stage that dinner scene in a restaurant? Or could you get the same effect if the characters eat fast food in a car?
2. Your schedule: What can you change to capture the story in less time? Do you need three days to capture the opening scene? Or can you modify the shot list to get everything you need in one day?
3. Cost of elements: What can you get for a discount? What can you get for free? And what can you get on a barter? Maybe you can get access to the grocery store in exchange for producing a commercial?
As one last tip, make sure you avoid casting animals and child actors until you have a studio-level budget. These elements are too unpredictable. And while you’re at it, keep in mind the weather is also surprising. Thinking this way will help you realize the more considerable scope and scale of your independent film budget.