20 things to consider when budgeting a film or tv project.

I often get hired to Schedule and Budget films and tv shows in development or pre-production. Before I begin the process of breaking down a script I typically have a list of questions I ask the writer, producer or company who has hired me to come up with a realistic budget.

Below I have outlined some of the questions that I have found important to discussing before I begin the scheduling and budgeting process.

  1. Is it funded? If not….is any of the project funded and how much is left to raise?
  2. Which state or country do you intend to shoot and are you attempting to go after tax incentives if that is an opportunity?
  3. Which unions do you wish to use if any? WGA (Writers Guild), DGA (Directors Guild), IATSE (Various Crafts), TEAMSTERS (Drivers and Location Managers) and SAG (Cast and Stunts) are the primary unions in the USA.
  4. When would you like to film this project (month and year) and does the weather effect any scene(s)?
  5. Are there any cast members that you are trying to consolidate in the schedule and shoot out for budgetary reasons?
  6. How many producers, what kind and do you have a goal for how much each producer should make?
  7. How many shooting days do you envision? If no idea are you open to however many days is best for the project?
  8. Does it matter if this film is based on a 5-day or 6-day week?
  9. Do you have any crew members such as a DP attached to the project already?
  10. What percentage of the cast and crew do you imagine putting up in hotels instead of sourcing locally?
  11. Are there minors in the film? If so are you open to filming during the summer to avoid schooling issues?
  12. Are there stunts or vfx involved in the film? If so would you like a detailed quote from a stunt coordinator or vfx house to be included in the budget?
  13. Are you hoping to attach an A-List or B-List cast member to your project and have you done any research to see what that cast person(s) might cost above scale? Have you spoken with a Casting Director?
  14. Do you have any additional materials that might help with the budgeting process such as story-boards, trailer, short film etc?
  15. Are you hoping to get the budget down to a certain amount? ie… 300K or 10M etc…
  16. Are you open to adjusting certain scenes to meet the possible budget threshold you are trying to achieve? This could mean turning a few night scenes into day scenes or adjusting some of the stunt/vfx sequences.
  17. Is there anything out of the ordinary that could make the budget go up in price? Ie… you want 10 original songs from a famous band
  18. How soon do you need this done by? Do you have any investors waiting to see this budget?
  19. Where do you plan to do post?
  20. Do you know if any of the locations in the script will be free or cheap based on connections you may have with a particular city?
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