In Detail – Budgeting your feature film

How to make a film Budget?

You know who is the real god? Money! Just saying… In any business if one has to progress it is very important to plan the finances tactfully. Even in the creative field like film making, where the creative geniuses try to keep them selves away from the circus of money making, it is very important to make a budget of their film before hand so that the film does not go out of budget eventually. Remember, Money saved is money earned. So be conservative while making a budget and more so while spending it.
Budgeting of the film is also one of the first steps of the Pre Production stage where you plan your shoot. Sometimes you make a budget way before the pre production shoot while pitching your film to the producers and financiers who are just interested in knowing how will they get their money back and make a profit on it too! The business of films are a high risk but not necessarily high reward giving one. You never know which film will run successfully on the box office. Sometimes a heavy star cast film fails in the box office and sometimes even a no star cast film with good content runs over 100 Cr.
While making a budget you have to take into consideration all the aspects of the production of a film. Let us understand in Details how to budget your film efficiently and appropriately.
There are two types of film budget called ‘Above the line‘ and ‘Below the line‘ Budget. Below the line budget is the budget of the film excluding the fees and expenditure of the actors. It includes expenses required only for production of the film. Above the line budget includes the fees and the expenses of the actors along with the production expenses of the film.


How to make a film Budget?


Below the line Budget = Only Production budget (Excluding actors)
Above the line Budget = Production budget + Actors Budget
  1. Actors: As I told you above that fees of the actors are included in the above the line budget. Making a budget for the actors, make a list of all the actors that will be acting in your film. This include the Primary actors who are the lead of the film and the secondary actors who are the supporting characters in the film. Also consider all the extras that will be needed in any scene, for example you will require 500 people as an audience in one scene. So note down that also. Also note down for how many days all these actors are required in the film. Suppose an actor is needed for just 3 days in the shoot then he or she can be paid per day. If an actor is required for a longer period of time, instead of a per day fees you can negotiate on the fulsome amount.
    Budgeting for actors = Primary actors + Supporting actors + Extras + Casting cost + Actors Workshop
    2. Director & Writer: The next step is to make a budget for the Direction and Writing department. Usually a director is paid a fulsome amount for his direction, story, dialogues and Screenplays. In case the writer is someone else the writer is paid for story, dialogue and screenplay and the director is paid only for the direction. If you are a director and pitching your budget to a producer you can also add in it the budget for the reference books, material etc required to write a script. You can also put it the research and development cost in it too. If you have bought the script from someone else then you can also mention the Story Rights and Acquisition cost in it. Sometimes the director or the writer or the producer hires a Script Consultant who reads the script and consult the director to make necessary changes in it. In case you have hired a script consultant you can also mention his or her cost in it too. The direction department has a Creative producer or a show runner in the team. The budget for the creative producer needs to be put in this section only.
    While the shoot starts you have to make multiple copies of the scripts of each department and actors. Include the budget for it too.
    Director & Writer Budget = Director fees + Writer fees + Reference Books, Research and development cost + Story/Dialogues/Copyright cost + Script Consultant cost + Creative Producer cost + Photocopying cost. 
    3.Music & Lyrics cost: This is also included in the Above the line budget along with the actors. While budgeting for this you have to consider three things. Who will compose the songs and the background music? Who will be lyricist of the songs and who will be the singer of those songs. There can be multiple composer, lyricist and singers in a film or a single person too.                Music & Lyrics Budget = Composer cost + Lyricist cost + Singer cost
    4.Crew Re-numeration : This is a very important section of a budget as it needs a lot of planing. Budgeting this requires clarity of how many days the shoot will happen and how many people will be required to shoot the film.
    The first is the PRODUCTION Staff. It includes the Executive Producer for Post production, Line Producer, Production Coordinator, Production Manager, Production Assistant, Head Spot boy, Assistant Spot boys, Production Accountant and Script community. The roles of each of them will be explained in details in another article.
    Second is the Direction Team or the team of ASSISTANT DIRECTORS (ADs). It include 1st AD, 2nd AD, Assistants to 2nd AD, Director’s Assistant, 3rd AD and interns.
    Third is the CAMERA Team. It includes Director of Photography, Second camera DOP, 1st Assistant cameraman, Second Camera Man, Focus Puller (s), Camera Attendants, Additional Camera Attendants, Online Editor and DIT (Data Intermediate Transfer).
    Fourth is the SOUND Team. It includes On location sound recordist, Boom mic operator/assistant, On location sound-Cam2, Walkie attendant.
    Fifth is the ART team. It includes Production designers/Art Director, Art Assistants, Art Assistant Local and Set workers. It also includes construction cost and rental costs.
    Sixth is the MAKE UP & HAIR department.It includes Makeup and Hair designer fees, Make up assistants, Extra Assistants and Prosthetic / Special makeup with assistants.
    Seventh is the WARDROBE Department.It includes Costume designer, Wardrobe super wiser, Costume assistant, Dress men and tailors.
    Eight is the STILL & MAKING OF department. It includes Set Photographer(s) with camera and Making of with Edit team.
    Ninth is the ELECTRICAL TEAM. It includes Gaffer, Electricians, Lighting Assistant, Additional Light men for pre light and heavy shoot days.
    Tenth is the STUNTS & SFX team.It includes Action director, stunt assistants, Picture vehicle, Props, SFX, SFX Master + Assistants, Guns Master + Assistants
    Eleventh is the POLICE & SECURITY Department. It includes Security with Sync sound, Local Night security, bouncers, public management assistants.
    Crew remuneration = Production Staff + Assistant Director team + Camera team + Sound team + Art team + Makeup and Hair team + Wardrobe team + Still & Making of team + Electrical team + Stunts & SFX team + Police and Security team.
    5. Costumes: In this section you have to take into consideration all the costumes that will be wore by the primary actors, supporting actors and the extras.                                                            Costume Cost = Costumes of all actors + Extra costumes for juniors + Costume rentals + Laundry.
    6. Rentals Cost: Rental cost include all the shooting equipment that you will need to make a film. Depending on the number of days of the shoot you can decide the budget for it. It includes Camera package (Main unit), Additional camera, Extra Camera equipment like special filters/special camera rigs, Sound Package, Light package including light truck, Rostrum with man power, Bulb fuse plus extra light requirement, Panther Dolly with transport, Steady cam with transport, Jimmi Jib / crane, Generator with diesels (125 Kv & 75Kv), Walky Talky Package, Unit setup (Tent, Chair, Smoke, Table) Incl Manpower, Make up vans, Animals (Permission, Cost of animal), Toilet van, Water tanker. This also includes rentals of locations and studios including lighting and setting.
    7. Hotel (Accommodation): This includes accommodation cost of the whole cast and crew. It includes Accommodation cost during pre production, Actors Hotel, Production A Crew accommodation, Production B&C Crew accommodation.                                                Accommodation Budget = Pre production accommodation + actors accommodation + whole crew accommodation.
    8. Transportation : This included trasportation cost during pre production, Air and rail ticket Pre production, Cars for shoot crew, Additional cars for actors, Camera car, Art car, Sound Car, Air ticket for cast and crew, Art tempo, Additional Art tempo for heavy shoot days, Production Tempo, Extra Luggage tempo, Food tempo, Business class tickets.
    9. Catering: This includes cost of catering during Pre production (Recce, Tech Recce), Catering during shoot (B/F, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner), Catering of service staff, Catering during set construction, Water,Artists Food, Craft service. It also includes other expenses like communication, Ambulance, Night allowances and crew convenience.
    10. Purchases and expendablesThere are many things we need to buy during the shoot. It includes cost of Camera Accessories & Expendables, Light and grip expendables, Sound batteries included in equipment packages, Production expendables and hard discs.
    11. Office Expenses:In case you are renting a office for your film production you need to include this too. It includes Rental, Brokerage & Registration expense, Office boy, Sweeper, Electricity, Internet, Maintenance, Kitchen expenses.
    12. Post Production: Once the film shoot is complete the next step is the post production stage. Budgeting it has many sub stages.
    First is the POST PRODUCTION SUPERVISOR. He is the person who looks over the complete post production stage.
    Second is the EDIT TEAM budget. It includes Editor cost, Assistant Editor cost, Editing studio cost, Edit studio F&B cost.
    Third is the SOUND POST Budget: It includes background score budget, Track lay budget, Dubbing studio cost, Foley cost, Final mix cost, Sound designer cost.
    Fourth is the VFX & DI .It includes VFX package for the whole film cost, DI Package for the whole film.
    Fifth is the MISCELLANEOUS COST. It includes Censor cost, Traveling cost, Trailer cost, Poster designing cost, Poster shoot and Photo shoot and Graphic designer.
    13. Legal Fees: This includes Legal fees including Insurance, Production company fees, Agreement expenses with cast and crew.
All the above 13 point budget makes the master budget of the film.

Master BudgetActors Budget + Writer-Director Budget + Music-Lyrics Budget + Crew Re-numeration + Costume Budget + Rental Cost + Hotel + Transportation + Catering + Purchases Expendables cost + Office Expenses + Post Production Cost + Legal Fees.


PIyush Pande Films
PIyush Pande Films



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