Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Obsession Part II

So what was the budget? How much did this all cost. The answer which every producer should give should be an honest one, and that answer is "under a million". I can even say that it was well under 100k. Are you interested now?

The biggest expense was filmstock which ran me around 3 to 4K, and then processing and sound transfer to a magnetic track, which ran an additional 7k. After that I was my own editor, and the expenses dropped. Food, transportation, and housing also ate a lot of my budget. I could have easily halved the budget for the last three items if I one, hired local actors, two gotten catering from fast food places, and three didn't supply any transportation for actors. Some actors had commitments like auditions to go to, so a car was provided. Three actors shared one car. It did work out, and the actors were all satisfied and relaxed. They did not feel like cattle, and it showed, so supplying transportation to the actors was a good thing. I used the rental agencies insurance, so my personal insurance agency didn't get stuck with damage charges. Food was prepared by my wife at times which included fruit, vegetables, bagels, cream cheese, and assorted meats for sandwiches. It was far more less expensive to do this then hire some one. My wife Phyllis got fresh food every day, and prepared it the following day. The actors ate, and also had munching food such as donuts, and coffee. Coffee was essential for the early morning shoots, and while we set up the lights & camera we all ate too.

I had started casting in NYC when my wife and I lived there, and so I had stacks of headshots to go through. These were all New York actors. I stuck with my choices, and that's why I didn't use local talent. My crew on the other had were almost all local except for two who were from my old alma-mater Brooklyn College. I housed them as well, but those two crew members were worth their weight in gold, and I could not think of doing the film without them. I could have also put the cast and some crew in a less then auspicious motel/hotel, but there was a good chain hotel nearby and I went with them. If I wasn't so busy with all the technical things I probably could have knocked off some money off the price. Remember everything is negotiable.

So are you getting the idea on where and how I spent my money. We also had saved money that became our "petty cash" money. Here we paid for "stuff" that would invariable come up during the production. So here's a tip. Save money by hiring local talent, and by doing so you save on lodging fees. But the caliber of the actors were great, and I could not ask for better craftsmen. I would suggest you talk to people in the area. Production people are always looking for the next project, and even if their committed to other projects they may know somebody. The circle is a not as small as you think, and like I said earlier if you pay people for their time they are more inclined to give it their all.

If done today you could shoot it on DV, and master it right on your own PC or Mac. No processing, no filmstock, and no extra delays. This should give you extra money to hire some good crew & actors. In the days since I did my film technology has come a long way. No more checking the gate to see if a piece of dirt got in the camera and ruined your shot. No now you check the playback, and see what you got instantly. You can even post it, and make the video look like film. It's a brave new world, and one were affordable filmmaking has become. So what are you waiting for. Write that masterpiece and get a move on it. It isn't too hard to do anymore. I had a crew of seven or eight, and a cast of four or five. You could make a film with less then that. It just takes some interesting story telling.

Some more adventures in the day to day shooting of the film, and how it's just as difficult after the shooting stops as it is while the shooting is going on. Stay tuned.

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