Over the last couple of years Budgeting has become a very hot topic of independent filmmaking. Why? Well mostly because most indies can no longer justify the $5 million budget that they used to. There was a time when these higher budget indies could be justified because buyers were acquiring them for up to $10-$15 million at festivals like Sundance, Toronto, Cannes, and Berlin. But no more.
So the question becomes, what budget level then IS acceptable for an independent film in today’s economic climate?
To answer this fully, again we need to work backwards…….
How much have you estimated you can make from your film? For example, have you done sales projections to support your specific distribution strategy?
Does your distribution strategy include festivals? a theatrical release? straight to DVD or direct to consumer sales?
I have a client right now who is projecting revenue for his $1.5 million budgeted indie and is including some series numbers from direct sales of DVD’s based on marketing partnerships he is ALREADY lining up based on the niche topic of his movie. And he’s only in Pre-Production. WOW. In his case, conservative projections show him in serious profit mode within 60-90 days after the launch of his film. (he’s decided to skip the festival circuit entirely and launch the film himself).
But I don’t see many clients as organized as him unfortunately….
So here’s what you can do:
1. Figure out what the earning potential of your film is FIRST (you can do this by researching sales projections and sample revenue from self-distribution and direct-to-consumer campaigns)
2. Back into your budget based on conservative estimates of your film’s earning potential
3. Hope for the best but plan for worst so you don’t end up stiffing your investors :)
I’d love to hear your thoughts on BUDGETING for indie films. What has your experience been like? And what distribution strategies are you employing to support your budget?
Oh, and I should mention that today is the LAST DAY to save $75 on my DISTRIBUTION IN REVERSE Group Coaching Program where we are going to delve very deeply into the whole budgeting process AND uncover realistic sales projections and earning potential for your films based on SPECIFIC distribution strategies. Here’s the link to snag one of the last remaining seats
in the program: