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Production Reality Checks

Production is when most of that money you’ve raised is needed. Despite all the math and science that goes into making the budget, costs will likely exceed the estimates. The producer needs to keep an eye on expenses, but also stay cool and collected when the project starts to go over the budget. Figure out what is costing more than planned, then keep all the stakeholders informed – and if you have to make compromises, find a middle ground between the financiers and the creative side of the production.

Photo: Eric May

Cost Report

Keeping a detailed record of everything the production spends won’t necessarily provide the answers, but it will lead you to the right questions. So where is the money going? Maybe you get lucky and everything stays within the budget range. Maybe you get really lucky and everything comes in under budget, giving your editorial crew even more time to go crazy with the effects. But most of the time you’ll be fighting to keep the project from going over budget. Don’t be surprised if you have to make some changes on the spot. Figure out which departments are least important to the project and shave the costs from there. Yes – this might make you seem like a heartless bastard, but does the wardrobe department really need to buy authentic designer label clothes, or can they tailor some thrift store merchandise to do the trick? Isn’t your story a satire about a bunch of hipsters anyway? Hipsters love thrift stores.

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Schedule Revisions

When the budget starts to go haywire, the schedule usually follows. Additionally, there are plenty of other issues like illness or accidents which can set a production behind schedule. Again, it’s tempting to stay late to pick up any slack. But not only can this leave you with tired, disgruntled crew members, there are also overtime considerations, especially when dealing with union rules. Extra days will almost always mean extra cost, so it might be something of a balancing act to make the time and money work in harmony. Not to mention the fact that certain locations and equipment might only be available to use on specific dates. So yeah, you’ll probably end up with some late nights, but don’t go crazy – or your cast and crew will.

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