Creative Accounting: Independent Feature Film

Darren Franich
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Film budgets are long works of literature, laying out, in meticulous detail, every delicate aspect of a production. The following is a real budget from a real movie. The producers gave it to us on the agreement that it remain anonymous. Though the following is real and accurate, it’s condensed; the complete printout runs to more than eighty pages—relatively small by contemporary standards. The film’s $18 million budget is on the smaller side of a major production, too.

Every film budget is written in the same way, more or less, but each has its own quirks. The project detailed below had three writers and three executive producers; an ensemble cast of six leads; seventy-three sets and fifteen wagons. The budget is separated into three main sections: in pre-production, a script is written and actors are hired; in production, various craftsmen create a world in front of the camera or support the one behind it; in post-production, the raw footage is edited into a film, sound and effects are added, etc. There are many expensive detours along the way. Mathematically minded readers may notice that certain subsections have accumulative totals that are a dollar less or more than they should be. This is how they appear on the actual budget; these small discrepancies are likely the result of estimated costs being rounded up or down.

This marks the first installment of Creative Accounting, an ongoing series that will show where the money goes for all of the major creative industries. Future issues will cover book publishing, television, fine art, theater, and music. Eventually the series will be collected into a single, indispensable volume, published by Believer Books.

—Darren Franich

Pre-Production: $6,026,014

Story & Scenario $972,450

Story Rights $350,000

Acquiring Book Rights $275,000

In order to make a film based on literary source material, you have to buy the rights to the original writing.

Extension Fee $75,000

A payment to the author when the book rights have elapsed but the producers still want to make the film

Writers $593,050

Writer 1

Story, 1st Draft $175,000

PH&W $25,375

Pension, health, and welfare

Optional Polish $15,000

The writer’s final revision of the script, usually focused on dialogue and involving minor alterations to the story

PH&W $2,175

Optional Revisions $25,000

More extensive than the polish, these rewrites often incorporate notes from the producer, the director, and the principal actors.

PH&W $3,625

Production Bonus $50,000

Cash given to the original screenwriter when script is successfully filmed

Writer 2

Story $50,000

PH&W $6,500

Optional Polish $15,000

PH&W $2,175

Optional Revisions $15,000

PH&W $25,000

Writer 3

New writers are often hired as “script doctors” to provide revisions before, sometimes during, production.

Rewrite, 1 Set $125,000

PH&W $18,125

Optional Polish $35,000

PH&W $5,075

Script Research $400

Script Copies $3,000

Making copies of the original screenplay is an important part of the production, since practically every person in the crew uses it in one way or another.

Travel and Living $20,000

Other Charges $6,000

Script Breakdown/ Budget Prep $5,000

An exceedingly detailed list of everything required for the film—props, settings, people, etc.

Development Expenses $1,000

Producers’ Unit $720,107

Executive Producers $600,000

3 Producers $200,000 each

Executive producers are often not involved in the production itself, but handle all overarching business issues.

Line Producer’s Assistant $16,370

The line producer is responsible for the day-to-day production, balancing the artistic ambition of the director and cast, the technical possibilities of the assorted crews of crafstmen, and the financial limitations of the budget.

Travel and Living $98,821

Airfare $3,200

Airfare, Line Producer $3,200

Accommodations $56,073

Per Diem $25,488

Limo Service, U.S. Airports $400

Limos Service, Canadian

Airports $264

Producers’ Car/SUV (x 2) $10,195

Total Fringes $4,196

DGC $3,269

Directors Guild of Canada Fees

CPP/EI $1,359

Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan

WCB Alberta $108

Workers’ Compensation Board Fees

Payroll Service $180

Direction $310,857

Director $175,000

Director Fee $150,000

The director is in charge of every creative decision made on the set, and must approve every choice made by the production’s creative team.

Guaranteed Residual $25,000

Director’s Assistant $15,345

Director’s Travel & Living $57,864

Airfare, Paris/L.A./Ret $8,000

Airfare, L.A./CAL/Ret $1,600

Hotel, 125 Days $25,960

Per Diem, 135 Days $12,744

Limos/Car Service, 6 Trips U.S. $600

Limos/Car Service, 2 Trips Cn. $132

For Casting Sessions:

Travel-Airfare, Cal/ L.a./Va nc./Ret $1,510

Hotel Accommodation, 8 Nights $1,888

Limos/Car Service, U.S. $200

Limos/Car Service $132

Director’s Car/SUV $5,097

Total Fringes $51,603

OASDI $5,840

Old Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance Medicare $2,538

FUI/SUI $434

Federal Unemployment Insurance/ State Unemployment Insurance

DGA-BTL $36,258

Director’s Guild of America Below-the-Line Fee

DGC $3,064

CPP/EI $1,274

WCB Alberta $101

Payroll Service $2,094

Cast $2,947,722

Principal Cast $1,820,000

1st Lead $1,000,000

2nd Lead $500,000

3rd Lead $100,000

4th Lead $100,000

5th Lead $100,000

6th Lead $20,000

Supporting Cast $660,861

Day Players $94,231

Actors in tiny roles who are paid a flat daily rate

Total Fringes $372,630

ACTRA I & R $55,931

Insurance and Retirement Benefits

SAG $304,448

WCB Alberta $2,845

Payroll Service $9,406

Cast Overtime/ Looping $728,973

Cast Looping $10,000

Bringing actors back to replace dialogue after a shooting day is finished. The film is literally on a loop, allowing the actors to perfectly match their initial lip movements.

Loop Group and Revoicing $14,720

A team that specializes in film production looping

Stunt Coordinator $59,400

Choreographs all stunts and hires stunt crew

Stunts & Adjustments $10,151

Stunt Doubles, Scale $4,813

Stunt doubles take the place of actors for stunts. “Scale” refers to the minimum salary required by union law.

Wardrobe Fitting $138

Preparation session preparing costumes for stunt doubles

BuyOut $5,199

Stunt People $476,127

Perform a variety of stunts: athletic, acrobatic, automotive, etc.

Casting Fees & Expenses $58,320

Other Charges $17,160

Casting Sessions/Rehearsal Spaces, U.S. $2,500

Casting sessions allow the filmmakers to examine several possible actors for roles in the film.

Casting Sessions/Rehearsal Spaces, Canada $1,416

Video Research $500

ACTRA Permits $12,744

Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Radio, and TV Artists

Total Fringes $93,246

Cast Travel & Living $345,905

Cast Travel Expenses $122,720

The production must account for the cast’s travel budget. On larger productions, this budget would probably also include the lead actors’ entourage.

Main Cast $21,901

Includes lead actor’s family

Supporting Cast, L.a. $54,374

Supporting Cast, Vanc. $40,214

Cast Living Expenses $217,521

Main Cast $43,112

Supporting Cast, L.A. $69,913

Supporting Cast, vanc. $37,128

Stunt Crew, vanc. $3,946

Main Cast—Per Diem $18,974

Supporting Cast, L.A.—Per Diem $30,397

Supporting Cast, Vanc.—Per Diem $12,702

Stunts, Vanc. $1,350

Cast Car/SUV (x 2) $5,664

PRODUCTION: $9,929,128

Extras & Crowds $580,704

Extras & Crowds $403,859

387 Special-Skills Extras $394/day

Extras hired to perform specific, often athletic activities

329 ACTRA Background Performers $296/day

1102 Non-Union Extras $140/day

Extras who are not in ACTRA get paid less, but often work more as a result.

Stand-ins, Photo Doubles $28,690

ACTRA Stand-ins $25,897

People who take the place of performers in preparation for filming, aiding the director of photography in setting up proper lighting and camera motion

ACTRA Photo Doubles $2,791

Replace lead actors for distant shots where faces are not visible

Teacher/Welfare Worker $8,260

Required for safety and education of on-set minors

Extras Coordinator $43,542

In charge of hiring all extras for production

Other Charges $28,320

Classroom/Tutoring Expenses $2,360

Bus to and from Locations $25,960

Required for transporting cast to location shoots

Total Fringes $68,033

ACTRA I&R $52,610

Non-Union $6,890

WCB Alberta $3,197

Payroll Service $5,328

Production Staff $931,686

Production Manager $99,120

Oversees all production departments and reports directly to the producers. Works with assistant director on scheduling, assembles the budget, and keeps everything on time and on budget

1st Asst. Director (AD) $59,548

The director’s right-hand person. Maintains the shooting schedule; works closely with the production manager

2nd AD/3rd AD & Trainee AD $81,515

2nd Assistant Director $32, 351

1st AD’s right-hand person. Ensures the actors are in makeup, in wardrobe or on standby at the proper times

3rd Assistant Director $38,090

2nd AD’s right-hand person, often directs extras and relays important information to cast and crew

Trainee Assistant director (TAD) $11,074

Many departments will have at least one trainee on set, partially to give them on-the-job training, partially to give them jobs no one else wants to do.

Script Supervisors $28,513

Prevent errors in continuity during shooting; also log daily production reports

Production Accounting $167,323

Production Accountant $64,570

Manages finances during filming

1st Accountant, General $39,100

1st Asst. Accountant, Payroll $31,567

2nd Asst. Accountant $18,941

Accounting Clerk $13,144

Production Coordinator $44,179

Makes sure all equipment, crew, and cast are in the right places at the right times

Asst. Prod. Coordinator $32,398

Trainee Prod. Coordinator $16,025

Location Managers $89,426

Location Manager $54,516

Secures locations and addresses issues that arise between the production and the local community

Asst. Location Manager $34,910

Production Assistants $86,792

Responsible for every tiny and possibly thankless job involved with the production

Office PA x 2 $25,141

Location PAs

(Prep x 2) (shoot x 4) $45,336

  • Two production assistants prepare the location ahead of time, while four are required for the shoot itself.

Set PA $9,113

Daily PAs $7,202

Other Charges $15,010

Production Mgr. Computer $944

Location Mgr. Computer $944

Asst. Location Mgr. Computer $802

Production Coordinator Computer $1,416

Asst. Prod. Coordinator Computer $944

Prod. Coordinator Trainee Computer $802

Prod. Accountant/Asst. Accountants Rentals $6,513

Script Supervisor Computer $519

1st/2nd/3rd AD’s Computer $2,124

Total Fringes $211,837

DGC $135,062

IATSE 212 $5,703

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Moving Picture Technicians, Artists and Allied Crafts of the United States, its Territories and Canada.

CPP/EI $58,502

WCB Alberta $4,652

Payroll Service $7,918

Art Direction $323,014

Production Designer $80,287

Conceives overall visual aesthetic for the film

Art Director $102,351

Responsible for administrative aspects of the art dept.

Art Dept. Coordinator $28,796

Set Designer $6,641

Translates production designer’s vision for movie’s atmosphere into sets, using architectural plans

Storyboard Artist $5,692

Graphics $7,080

Can refer to signage used in creation of the set.

Backings $4,720

Used for interior studio sets to give the illusion that an outdoor scene exists outside a window

Rentals $2,360

Materials & Supplies $5,192

Other Charges $9,062

Total Fringes $70,833

Set Construction $690,359

Construction Coordinator $40,526

Supervises set construction and construction crew

Head Construction $29,453

In charge of on-set construction administration

Construction Foreman $25,761

Paint Coordinator $23,270

Responsible for all painting and coloration of on-set items and scenery

Lead Scenic Carpenter $23,364

Handles construction of on-set buildings, furniture, etc.

Set Cost—Labor $246,609

Labor required for creating seventy-three sets

Set Cost—Rentals/ Other Expenses $26,500

The cost of renting machines required for construction

Lifts/Cranes $5,000

Dumpsters $3,000

Equipment $12,000

Safety Equipment $1,000

Craft Service—Construction $3,000

Waste Disposal/Toxic $1,500

Restoration $1,000

Certain locations require restorative construction after filming in order to repair damage.

Set Cost—Purchase $149,460

Includes construction materials

Other Charges $10,006

Total Fringes $115,410

Set Operations $653,697

1st Co. Grip (Key Grip) $30,314

A grip operates production equipment. The key grip is the chief grip on set and directs a crew of grips.

2nd Co. Grip (Best Boy) $21,385

Key Grip’s assistant. “Best Boy” usually refers to the most senior member of a team.

Dolly Grip $21,307

Operates the dolly, a small wheeled vehicle designed to create smooth horizontal camera motion

Crane Grip $10,277

In charge of operating the crane, equipment designed to create smooth vertical camera motion

Company Grips $85,850

Also known as “Grip Gang”

Company Grip #1 $20,011

Company Grip #2 $20,011

Company Grip #3 $15,851

Company Grip $4 $15,851

Company Grips, Dailies $14,126

Grip Rig/Strike Crew $14,578

Team that constructs and dismantles all scaffolding

Key Rigging Grip $6,117

Best Boy Rigging $4,536

Rigging Grip #1 $3,925

Grip Rental Equipment $130,083

Grip Equipment $14,160

Painter/Carpenter $4,788

Solves any painting or carpentry issues that emerge while production is in motion

Greensmen $51,237

Crew that maintains vegetation on a set

Head Greens Person $21,757

Lead Greens Person $17,199

Greens Person $12,281

Greens Rentals/Purchases $15,000

Craft Service Person $59,307

Services the other departments. Polices the set. Provides buffet-style snacks and drinks. Also provides first aid

FA/CS Technician $32,001

First Aid/Craft Services Technician

1st Asst. FA/CS Technician $23,528

Craft Service Asst. $3,778

Craft Service Rent./Purch $52,222

Paramedics with Ambulance $31,294

Loss & Damages $2,000

Other Charges $10,500

Total Fringes $99,395

Special Effects $304,781

Special Effects—Keyman $35,117

Coordinates and choreographs all on-set special effects: pyrotechnics, scale models, breakaway walls, etc.

Special Effects Men $88,427

Special effects crew

1st Asst. SPFX $25,508

2nd Asst. SPFX $22,107

3rd Asst. SPFX (x 2) $40,813

Additional Labor $7,612

Equipment Rentals $75,000

Special Effects Purchases $45,000

Explosives, Ammo, Pyrotechnics $5,000

Safety Equipment $5,000

Other Charges $4,154

Total Fringes $39,471

Set Dressing $532,723

Set Decorator $44,445

Working with the production designer, the set decorator provides all props to furnish the constructed sets.

Leadman $28,509

In charge of swing gang and set dressers

Swing Gang $137,556

Makes last-minute changes to the set

Lead Dresser $20,421

Swing Gang (x 4) $86,954

Team that dresses the set before filming and strikes it after filming is complete

Set Decorator Dailies $30,182

Work on a set during filming

On-Set Dresser $18,572

Places furniture, manages decorative items

Buyer $18,887

Purchases props for sets

Set Dressing Rentals $115,890

Set Dressing Purchases $87,260

Loss & Damages $2,000

Other Charges $5,625

Total Fringes $73,979

Property $349,147

Property Master $41,763

Responsible for buying, borrowing, or creating any props needed for a production

Asst. Propman $30,996

Additional Prop Labor $16,747

Props Buyer $17,672

Armourer $12,476

Oversees transport and usage of all weaponry on set.

Works with actors to establish safety guidelines

Prop Rentals $115,000

Prop Purchases $40,000

Props Manufactured $25,000

Covers all props that cannot be rented or purchased outside of the production

Loss & Damages $2,000

Other Charges $11,400

Total Fringes $36,093

Animals & Picture Vehicle $469,954

Head Wrangler $48,710

Cares for and controls all animals in production

Asst. Wrangler—Gang Boss $32,342

Local Wranglers $137,210

Local people hired to handle animals

Trainer/Handler $11,707

Animal Handler/Trainer $11,707

For dogs, chickens, sheep, and goats

Animal Rentals & Purchase $100,021

210 Cast Horses $27,565

Trick/Stunt Horses $472

Includes grinding horse with blindfold

Wagon Teams $20,957

Wagons/Carriages $24,440

Includes 11 wagons, 3 war wagons, 12 carriages, 1 sailboat, and 4 artillery pieces

Nondescript Horses/Animals $26,588

Includes dogs, goats, Merino sheep, Collie, mangy dog, cows, pigs, scrawny chickens, skinny dogs

Feed, Stabling, Corrals, etc. $73,986

Includes budget for veterinarian, electric fence, troughs

Total Fringes $65,978

Wardrobe $482,176

Costume Designer $52,958

Creates wardrobe aesthetic for each character as well as develops costume pattern for the entire production

Asst. Costume Designer $22,524

Key Costumer $30,663

Responsible for administration and day-to-day running of wardrobe department

Costumer $66,892

Truck Costumer $22,418

Maintains the wardrobe truck, where costumes are kept during the shoot

Costumer (x 2) $44,474

Maintain all costumes for a film

Additional Labor/Seamstresses $37,908

Seamstress (x 3) $26,711

Responsible for costume creation and on-set repair

Extras, Breakdown, etc. $11,196

The “breakdown” outlines the precise clothing for every character in every scene, from hat to shoes.

Manufacture Wardrobe $20,000

Wardrobe Rentals $100,000

Wardrobe Purchases $70,000

Cleaning & Repairs $10,000

All clothing has to be laundered regularly.

Loss & Damages $2,000

Other Charges $5,758

Total Fringes $63,473

Makeup & Hairdressing $181,922

Makeup Artist $27,305

Applies makeup to actors, works with facial hair, attaches prosthetics when necessary

Additional Makeup Artist $17,643

Asst. Makeup Artist (x 2) $8,762

Makeup Dailies $8,881

Hairstylist $27,305

Responsible for maintaining consistent cast hairstyles during production

Additional Hairstylist $17,643

Asst. HairStylist (x 2) $8,762

Hair Dailies $8,881

Special FX Makeup Artist $8,224

Applies makeup designed to create assorted illusions, from cuts and bruises to mutation and amputation

Makeup Rentals $6,500

Makeup Purchases $10,000

Hairstyling Rentals $10,000

Hairstyling Purchases $10,000

Prosthetics/Aging Expenses $7,500

Cosmetics designed to make actors look older

Other Charges $10,195

Total Fringes $29,607

Lighting $457,482

Gaffer $30,269

In charge of all the electrical work on a production. Works with the director of photography on lighting layout for each scene

Best Boy Electric $21,385

Gaffer’s lieutenant. Fixes malfunctions

Lamp Operators $85,193

Responsible for the cable (often hundreds of feet in length) that powers all lighting during production

Lamp Operator #1 $20,011

Lamp Operator #2 $20,011

Lamp Operator #3 $15,686

Lamp Operator #4 $15,686

Electrics Dailies $13,797

Generator Operator $25,583

Responsible for running generator, the engine that provides energy required for location shooting

Rigging and Striking Labor $14,578

Team that sets up and breaks down all electrical lighting equipment in the production

Key Rigging Electrics $6,117

Best Boy Rigging $4,536

Rigging Electric #1 $3,925

Generator Rental $39,129

Main Generator $25,488

Circus Generator $8,920

Extra Generators $4,720

Lighting Equipment Rental $171,000

Basic Package $108,000

Daily Rentals $15,000

Specialty Rentals, Night Lighting $26,000

Stage Lighting $22,000

Lighting Equip. Purchase $10,000

Loss & Damage $2,000

Other Charges $5,100

Total Fringes $53,245

Camera $627,013

Director of Photography $75,600

Works with the director and the production designer to create the overall look of the film

Camera Operator $78,593

Sets up camera and carries out required camera movement during a shot

1st Asst. Cameraman $72,689

Responsible for focusing camera lens during shots

2nd Asst. Cameraman $49,280

Unloads, organizes, and prepares camera equipment

Additional Camera Crew $31,155

Video Asst. Operator $24,019

Records shots on video cameras for instant review

Camera Trainee $31,155

Still Man $7,136

Takes on-set pictures for publicity purposes

Still Film & Lab Cost $2,500

Camera Rentals $202,500

Camera Package, 2 “Arri” cameras $157,500

The Arri Group is the motion-picture industry’s primary supplier of film equipment.

Additional Equipment $20,000

Steadicam $10,000

Hydraulically balanced equipment that attaches to camera operator using a harness. Creates smooth camera movements without bulky dolly equipment

Misc. Rentals $15,000

Camera Supplies and Purchases $3,500

Loss & Damages $2,000

Other Charges $14,868

Total Fringes $89,328

Production Sound $137,190

Sound Mixer $31,584

Records all sound on set during filming

Boom Operator $23,590

Holds microphone to capture dialogue

Cableman $17,571

Clears cables out of boom operator’s path

Sound Equipment Rentals $24,300

Sound Equipment Purchases $5,000

Walkie-Talkies $12,278

65 Walkies $8,973

Facilitate communication between the different areas of a production

Extra Allowance $2,360

Damage $944

Loss & Damages $1,000

Total Fringes $21,867

Transportation $1,272,453

Transportation Coordinator $52,335

Plans all transportation for production

Transport Captain $36,467

In charge of all drivers transporting actors, crew, director, producers, press, and extras to and from key locations

Drivers $366,707

Cast/Van Driver (x 4) $95,793

Transports actors

Co-Capta in Hair/MU Driver $23,855

Transports hair and makeup department

Wardrobe Truck Driver $26,837

Drives wardrobe truck to location

Honeywagon Truck Driver $22,674

Drives the honeywagon, a trailer used as a dressing room for day players when on location shoots

Fuel/Water Truck Driver $22,071

Cable Truck Driver $21,579

Camera Truck Driver $22,474

Electrics Truck Driver $22,809

Grip Truck Driver $22,809

Props Truck Driver $23,115

SPFX Truck Driver $22,502

Set Dec. 5-ton Truck Driver $7,140

2nd Honeywagon

Truck Driver $3,332

Additional Drivers $13,102

Teamster Meal Allowance $5,615

Catering Staff $67,775

Unlike Craft Services, which provides snack buffets throughout a day of filming, the catering staff cooks full meals for the cast and crew.

Chef $22,873

Catering Staff (x 2) $40,912

Additional Staff $1,497

Meal Allowance $2,492

Truck Rentals $251,335

Includes transportation coordinator’s 4×4 pickup, captain’s 4×4 three-quarter-ton pickup, cast minivans transport flat deck, and fuel/water truck

Car Rentals $36,722

Bus/Van Rentals $2,407

Motorhomes/Cast Trailers $81,713

Film shoots, especially with location shooting, often require trailers for the main cast during shooting.

Motorhomes (x 2) $26,620

Star Trailers (x 2) $39,043

2-Holer (x 2) $10,384

Trailer with two compartments, assigned to individual actors as dressing rooms and makeup facilities

School Trailer $4,153

Stunts trailer—pads & equip. $1,510

Special Support Vehicles $59,668

Honeywagon $18,124

Hair/Makeup Trailer $18,124

Wardrobe Trailer $15,859

Bathroom Truck $1,416

2nd Honeywagon $2,643

Quads $3,500

Canadian slang for all-terrain vehicles

Camera Car/Process Trailer $14,868

Camera Car/Process Trailer $9,345

A camera car, usually a truck, is equipped to carry camera equipment, lights, and crew. A process trailer is is towed behind an automobile, providing a steady moving platform for the camera. The two mechanisms are used in shots involving high-velocity movement.

Camera Car Operator $5,522

Drives and maintains the camera vehicle

Gas & Oil $126,024

Repairs and Maintenance $19,635

Water Delivery, Sewage Pump-Out $5,947

Honeywagon Supplies $1,699

Oil, Washer Fluid, Spare Keys, etc. $1,699

Compressed Air for Camera Truck/Darkroom $849

Compressed air cans are the usual go-to method for cleaning film negatives.

Allowance $9,440

Mileage Allowance $1,888

Permits and Parking $2,832

Covers assorted parking fees

Limos & Taxis $472

Total Fringes $151,605

Location $717,284

Transportation Fares $26,118

Crew Airfare $24,702

Crew Travel, Shoot (Edmonton) $1,416

Lodging Hotels $139,616

Production Designer $14,160

1st Asst. Director $10,431

Director of Photography $11,328

Camera operator $6,136

Costume Designer $14,536

Asst. Costume Designer $9,204

Visual Effects Supervisor $2,832

Allowance $1,416

Meals/Per Diem $88,420

Production Designer $8,590

1st Asst. Director $7,301

Director of Photography $6,013

Camera Operator $4,295

Costume Designer $7,301

Asst. Costume Designer $6,442

Visual Effects Supervisor $1,227

Allowance $613

Crew Accomodations $46,634

Site Rentals $175,450

Fees for filming rights at a location

Film Shipment $8,800

During location shoots, film negatives are shipped to the lab each day, to be developed overnight and sent back to the location to be viewed as dailies.

Set Security $55,665

Security Coordinator $16,048

In charge of all security personnel who maintain safety and protect the set during non-filming periods

Night Watch $21,864

Weekend Day Watch $8,745

State Holidays $531

Bonus pay for working during holidays

Vehicle Rental $3,823

Other Locations $4,652

Permits & Fees $1,416

Survey Costs: Fares, Etc. $10,000

Initial location Survey/Scout $7,500

Additional Survey/Scout $2,500

Location Equipment $4,862

First Aid $1,888

Misc. Locations $2,973

Garbage bags, paper products, etc.

Catering $101,952

Meals, Prep $2,832

Meals, Cast & Crew $68,534

Meals, Union Extras $11,328

Meals, Non-Union Extras $10,384

Meals, Off-set Crew $4,720

Ice/Propane $4,153

Location Contact $6,608

Site Liasons $6,608

Equipment Rental $77,526

Tables and Chairs $4,248

Tents $38,232

Heaters $10,620

Air Conditioners $10,620

Trash Dumpsters $10,620

Portable Toilets $3,186

Courtesy Payments $1,000

Payments and gratuities to neighbors

Other Charges $4,720

Location Manager Kit Rental $944

Asst. Location Manager Kit Rental $802

Locations Kit Rental $2,973

Signs, barricades, cones, etc.

Total Fringes $15,131

Stages & Facilities $354,798

Stage Rentals/Production Office $200,600

Office Rentals $4,720

Office Furniture $14,986

Office Equipment $5,900

Photocopies $17,936

Stationary Supplies $9,440

Telephone/Internet $52,392

Brokerage/Shipping/Courier $29,000

Computer Services $2,832

Office Craft Services $9,440

Cleaning $6,608

Security $472

Other Charges $472

Production—Film & Lab $568,923

Negative Raw Stock $331,684

Initial negative film loaded into the camera before shooting

Developing/Telecine Prep $66,337

Equipment that transfers film into electronic form, video, or DVD

Printing $152,173

Dailies/Rushes $7,892

Initial prints of film, often viewed the following day by the director and the film crew

Other Charges $10,837

Process Photography/ VFX Prod. Crew $250,000

Visual Effects Required

10 Matte Shots

Combining two separate shots into one, often a real foreground image and a digital background image

20 Set Extensions & Composites

Supplementing footage with computer-generated effects to enhance dimensions of settings

50 Wire/Rig Removals

Removing obvious wires or other film equipment in post-production using CGI

25 Misc. Other shots/fixes

It is common practice even in independent films to fix shots in post-production using subtle digital effects.

Tests $5,000

All equipment is tested in preparation for filming.

Second Unit $38,820

Team filming scenes without actors: scenery, establishing shots, close-ups of objects, other inserts

Second Unit Labor $30,000

Total Fringes $8,820


Editorial $495,966

Post-Prod. Supervisor $59,625

Oversees all post-production activities, reporting directly to the producer

Editor $121,200

Assembles footage and audio into final film

Asst. Editor $61,504

Runs the cutting room

Messengers $8,000

Post-Prod. Coordinator/PA $14,725

Post Shipping $10,000

Editorial Rentals $103,800

Includes digital editing equipment for use during production and post-production

Editorial Purchases $3,500

Cutting Room Rentals $26,750

Continuity Script $5,200

Post-Production Utilities $21,350

Kit Rentals $3,000

Total Fringes $57,312

Music $140,000

Composer $100,000

Creates original music for the film

Music Editor $40,000

Mixes and synchronizes music within the soundtrack

Post-Production Sound $245,350

Sound Editing $60,000

For elaborate, “big” sound effects that cannot be created inside the studio

ADR/Looping Studio $26,875

Automatic Dialogue Replacement. Actors re-record many of their lines in post-production.

Foley Studio $16,875

Creates many of the natural, everyday sound effects in a film—footsteps, doors creaking, punches, etc.

Temporary Dub $10,000

Temporary sound effects, music, and voiceovers added as a guideline for sounds added in the final mix

Pre-Dub $33,750

Mixes several related sound tracks together

Final Dub/Mix $75,450

Magnetic Film Stock $6,000

Acetate-based stock used for mixing sound

Optical Track Transfer $7,200

Negative optical tracks often provide better transfer quality than the optical track on the final film.

Misc. Sound Purchases $1,500

Sound Transfers $6,200

Sound is transfered from magnetic stock to film so it can be projected and edited with the picture.

Dolby $1,500

Fee paid to Dolby Laboratories for use of their soundmixing equipment (and their logo)

Post-Film/Lab $178,879

Editor’s Reprints $1,200

Film reprinted for editorial purposes, either to shift the color scheme or replace damaged prints

Answer Print (1st Trial) $15,994

The first print of the edited film

Interpositive #1 (Telecine) $17,640

Made from answer-print negative, the interpositive creates more accurate color reproduction.

Composite Release Print $5,760

Print with images and sound on the same strip of film

Video Cassette Charges $13,000

On-Line Charges $40,000

Misc. Lab Charges $1,500

Neg. Cutting and Assembly $16,885

Once a workprint has been edited, the negative cutter processes the negative, assembling it according to the editor’s list, to produce the final film print.

Broadcast Master Delivery $65,000

Quality Control $400

Other Charges $1,500

Titles $28,000

Main & End Titles $26,500

Lab Charges $1,500

Opticals $39,000

Combining two or more separate pieces of film

Standard Opticals $39,000

Standard Opticals $$35,000

Standard optical effects include dissolves and fades.

Electronic Prep $2,500

Lab Charges $1,500

Delivery $30,000

OTHER: $460,692

Publicity Supplies $5,000

Legal & Accounting $116,049

Legal Expenses $56,000

Music Rights $7,500

Fees charged for licensing copywritten music in a film

Fiction $13,500

Canadian Legal Expenses $35,000

Banking Conversion Fees $15,000

Cost of converting b/w U.S. and Canadian currencies

Accounting Expenses $42,240

Total Fringes $2,809

Insurance $269,769

Cast/Crew Medicals/Work Permits $7,269

Insurance Medicals $4,153

Work Permit Fees $3,115

Production Insurance $262,500

Liability $17,500

E&O $10,000

Errors and omissions insurance

E&O Buydown Premium $15,000

$10.1–20 Million $220,000

The price of production insurance varies w/ budget size.

Miscellaneous $69,874

Telephone $15,000

Office Supplies $1,500

Office Equipment & Furniture $20,000

Required for furnishing production office

Production Meals $5,000

Entertainment $13,000

Wrap Party $5,000

Party for cast and crew at end of filming

Wrap Gift $2,500

Dept. Head DVD $1,000

Cast & Crew Screening $4,500

Photocopies $6,000

Bank Charges $1,133

Postage & Courier $500

CFTPA Fee $3,021

Canadian Film & Television Production Association

CAVCO Fee $4,720

Canadian Audio Visual Certification Office


Post-Contingency $150,000

Contingency $250,000

Allowance added to the production budget in preparation for unforseen expenses

Total Above the Line $6,026,014

All pre-production expenses, including salaries for the main creative people involved in the production, all travel and living expenses, and assorted other production fees

Total Below the Line $11,547,015

All other fees involved in the production of the film

Total Above and Below the Line $17,573,029

Grand Total $17,973,029

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