Indie Film Budgets – The Reality of the Film Market

January 29, 2014 by · Comments Off on Indie Film Budgets – The Reality of the Film Market 

Raising money for films really comes down to a Value Proposition for people who invest in your film. The most difficult process is raising money for films. The easiest money raised is the contribution or favour or when you own professional equipment.images

Here is the actual Cash Budget levels for Indie Films  for first or second time Feature Film Directors

  1. The Weekend Film Shoot Production.  Cost for one of these films is about $75,000 – $100,000. You may actually shoot the film for $30,000 but all of the extras of Post Production and finding your market place after cost a considerable amount. Usually one gets television actors that are know to the public to act in the film. However the crew and cast are mainly semi professional or amateur You hope for Festival Success and a profit on the cash budge from Pay TV , DVD Release and mainly Internet sales. Nobody gets paid but everyone owns a part of the film. The Makeover is an example of a successful film made using this model.
  2. The $200,000 Micro Budget Shoot.  This is similar to the Weekend Film Shoot. The only difference is that you shoot in one block continuously and  semi professional amateur crew and cast get paid, They may have a small amount of points for reduced pay.
  3. The $1 Million Dollar Blueprint.  This is a very typical model. The Film is shot using professional crew and actors and a recognisable  C list or B list name really helps to sell  the film in the marketplace.
  4. The $2 million Dollar – $5 Million Dollar Indie Film.The film must have recognisable international actors. You will not get A Listers on this budget as a general rule. However, sometimes A Listers will do an Indie Favour and act in the film if they love the script. It is more likely that you will get High Grade B Lister actors who can sell the film all over the world. You may get a limited release in the cinemas. However, sometimes these films breakout and become a hit film if the film has advance buzz from a major film festival award from Cannes or Sundance. The Distributor may invest the Advertising Budget into promoting the film. images-1
  5. The $10 million Dollar Plus Budget. Think of Films such as The Kings Speech. and you have have an idea of what happens in this budget range. Generally, you will have an established Director and recognisable B List or A List  Actors Stars. You will need a major distributor attached with a big advertising budget of $15 million in the USA and at least an advertising budget of $2million in Australia.  Needless to say, not many films are made in this budget range.
  6. The Studio Film and Big Budget Films. These films have exceptionally large budgets and everyone involved gets exceptional pay.  A major studio or mini major needs to be involved in the package

Here is an example of a budget summary from Unbreakable from Wikipedia 


Unbreakable  _ Motion Picture 

      • Story rights and Screenplay: $6,000,000
      • Producers: $1,878,260
      • Director (M. Night Shyamalan & Assistant): $5,081,749
      • Cast: $ 35,068,388
        • Bruce Willis: $20,000,000
        • Samuel L. Jackson: $7,000,000
        • Robin Wright Penn: $2,500,000
        • Rest of Cast, Casting, Stunts, & Travel: $5,568,388
      • Production costs: $26,214,709
        • Visual effects: $1,000,000
        • Music: $2,253,456

Total: $74,243,106 [


This was only M Night Shyamalan’s second film as a Director and look at his fee. His first film was a smash success. The Fifth Sense. Amazing how success can change everything.

Today the market has changed dramatically since the time of the Fifth Sense. The Studios are taking much less chances and going for the safe bet. However great films get made all the time.

The Market place is much tighter with the advent of the internet and film piracy and the fact that the volume of feature films produced every year has dramatically increased.

The market recognises International Names in films. The bigger the names in your film, the more distribution and audience your film will receive. Sadly there are many quality films that never get seen outside the film festival circuit and very limited releases. The reason is that they do not have international actor names attached. The mass audience identifies quality with named actors or Oscars or major awards received.

The main advise is to always make films now and dream big.

Film Raves – Saving Mr Banks and Philomena

January 20, 2014 by · Comments Off on Film Raves – Saving Mr Banks and Philomena 

I always love this time of year. There are so many wonderful movies at the cinema. Finally over the weekend I managed to see two of the very best. As always, I am mot a Film Critic. I am a Film Maker who loves movies and therefore I only ever publish information about films that I have loved. Both of the following films are so worth while seeing. Please see them and let me know what you think. I have to rave about them .

The first film is “Saving Mr Banks” imgres 

I really loved this film and enjoyed the performances of Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson. Its beautifully shot and overall a very entertaining film.

  1. Critics Score overall  -  8 out of 10   
  2. Audience Score overall – 9 out of 10
  3. My Score –  9 out of 10

Source and Synopsis : Rotten Tomatoes

Two-time Academy Award (R)-winner Emma Thompson and fellow double Oscar (R)-winner Tom Hanks topline Disney’s “Saving Mr. Banks,” inspired by the extraordinary, untold backstory of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen. When Walt Disney’s daughters begged him to make a movie of their favorite book, P.L. Travers’ “Mary Poppins,” he made them a promise-one that he didn’t realize would take 20 years to keep. In his quest to obtain the rights, Walt comes up against acurmudgeonly, uncompromising writer who has absolutely no intention of letting her beloved magical nanny get mauled by the Hollywood machine. But, as the books stop selling and money grows short, Travers reluctantly agrees to go to Los Angeles to hear Disney’s plans for the adaptation. For those two short weeks in 1961, Walt Disney pulls out all the stops. Armed with imaginative storyboards and chirpy songs from the talented Sherman brothers, Walt launches an all-out onslaught on P.L. Travers, but the prickly author doesn’t budge. He soon begins to watch helplessly as Travers becomes increasingly immovable and the rights begin to move further away from his grasp. It is only when he reaches into his own childhood that Walt discovers the truth about the ghosts that haunt her, and together they set Mary Poppins free to ultimately make one of the most endearing films in cinematic history. Inspired by true events, “Saving Mr. Banks” is the extraordinary, untold story of how Disney’s classic “Mary Poppins” made it to the screen-and the testy relationship that the legendary Walt Disney had with author P.L. Travers that almost derailed it.




The Second Film is  ”Philomena”images
starring Judi Dench and Steve Coogan and directed by Stephen Frears

This film is exceptionally moving and is based on the true life story of an Irish girl who had her child stolen from her by the catholic church.

  1. Critics Score overall  -  9 out of 10
  2. Audience Score overall – 9 out of 10
  3. My Score –  9 out of 10

Source and Synopsis : Rotten Tomatoes

Based on the 2009 investigative book by BBC correspondent Martin Sixsmith, The Lost Child of Philomena Lee, PHILOMENA focuses on the efforts of Philomena Lee (Dench), mother to a boy conceived out of wedlock – something her Irish-Catholic community didn’t have the highest opinion of – and given away for adoption in the United States. In following church doctrine, she was forced to sign a contract that wouldn’t allow for any sort of inquiry into the son’s whereabouts. After starting a family years later in England and, for the most part, moving on with her life, Lee meets Sixsmith (Coogan), a BBC reporter with whom she decides to discover her long-lost son.

Location Location – How to find the best locations for your shoot?

January 13, 2014 by · Comments Off on Location Location – How to find the best locations for your shoot? 

Its the 12th of January and I finally have time to write my first blog of 2014, “Finding the best Locations.”  I have spent the first 12 days of 2014 seeking and confirming locations in Outback Australia. In all, we clocked up 4630 kilometres on the road.Outback Location

As a director, I am always very particular with the locations I shoot in and therefore took it upon myself to drive to the Outback and find ideal locations. Although, we do not shoot Absolute Freedom till September, I always like to get ahead of the game. The other important part of seeking out locations is that I put further reality to my scenes in the script. In other words, when I work on the next draft of the script, I will be able to see clearly the places we are shooting in and adjust the script to the realities of the location.

Half of the Film, Absolute Freedom, will be shot in the Outback. That is, 55 pages of our 105 Location Outbackpage screenplay will  be shot in the Outback and 50 pages in Sydney. Three weeks of the shoot will be in Sydney and three weeks in the Outback. So it was a big task to find and lock down all of the locations for the Outback shoot in 12 days.  However, Valeska and I managed to find all of the locations and in nearly all cases lock down locations on site with the owner.

For roads, we have located the various authorities we have to get clearance off for action road scenes. As Absolute Freedom is an action adventure road movie, we will require many roads in very remote parts of Australia. It certainly will be fun shooting these scenes in September.

Here are some tips for finding and locking down locations professionally.Seeking Location

1. Get used to the cold call on total strangers you have never met.
In all the locations we found, nobody at all rejected our desire to shoot in their hotel or their motel or on their cattle station. It was certainly an exceptionally warm welcome. When you say the magic words, “We are shooting a movie in your town. Would you like to have your hotel in the movie?”, you generally will receive a very enthusiastic response.

2.  Make sure that you speak to the owner of the location or the person who can authorise the use of the location.
This may seem like the obvious but it is surprising how many emerging film makers talk to one of the very enthusiastic staff who keeps saying yes and then turns out to have no permission to authorise a shoot. Find the person who can actually say YES

3. Location Fees for Micro budget and low budget films:
In some cases, you will have to pay a location fee but in most cases many people will gladly donate their location for costs, provided you can return the favour with a Credit and sweeteners.

4. Give Sweeteners away when you can.Queensland OUtback1

If it is a hotel, make sure you have the after drinks at the location bar. This is a chance for the bar to make some money. Make sure you shoot on whatever day they are not trading or early in the morning when they are closed. Do not cost the business money.  Here is a list of possible sweeteners:

  • After Drinks at the Hotel Bar
  • Eat at the restaurant
  • Clear Credit in the closing scroll. If the film is a huge hit, it will increase the turnover for the business
  • Fix something in the location
  • Leave it cleaner than when you found it
  • Use as many friends of the proprietor as extras in the film. Many people love this
  • Wrap Party at their place
  • Invites to all Premieres and Parties

There are many more sweeteners, so hopefully you get the idea of how to make your location hunt appealing to people with the locations.  In my case, as our film has a reasonable budget, the location fee tends to be our sweetener.

5. Put it in Writing
Make sure you have a location agreement in writing with the clear points of agreement written down. This is a chance to make your location owner feel secure and also for you to guarantee that your location is locked down. Make absolutely sure that the business will not have paying customers arriving in the middle of your shoot. You need to own the location during shooting and use your own extras for background people.

Finding locations is a very enjoyable and simple process. Every film is a mixture of a great script with Crew, Cast, Film Equipment and LOCATIONS.

Finding locations is easy and a fun process. We always teach the process in practice on our 4 Month Film Schools in Sydney and Melbourne.

Till next Monday, have a great week.