Movie Budget Breakdown — Software Or Service?

 In Blog, Film Budget Basics

A movie budget is an essential document in the pre-production phase of any project. Decisions that you make regarding how to design your budget will directly impact the outcome of your end product.

With so much at stake, many filmmakers today have an important choice to make of whether or not to personally use movie budgeting software, such as Movie Magic Budgeting, to build their budget or to hire a professional movie budgeting service run by a seasoned Line Producer.

Which is the better choice? Let’s examine some pros and cons for the Do-It-Yourself approach that can help determine which path is right for you.

The main benefit of movie budgeting software is that it tends to be cheaper than utilizing a movie budgeting service. If you are on a really tight development budget, you might be inclined to purchase your own budgeting software, rather than having your budget prepared for you.

However, buying software and doing it yourself has some serious drawbacks. First, you have to purchase the software which can costs close to $1000. Second, you then have to do the work yourself; the software does not magically do it for you. For busy film industry professionals, or aspiring filmmakers, taking days (or weeks) to create a budget on your own may not the best use of your time. While you are spending hours and hours researching and deciphering the thousands of budgeting line items, there are untold numbers of other pre-production tasks that YOU need to be doing, because no one else can do them for you.

In this way, very often, it is worth saving the time that comes from hiring a professional movie budgeting service.

The second drawback of using movie budgeting software to create your own budget, is that you may not have the experience needed to effectively, and efficiently, create an accurate Detailed Budget. Creating a movie budget is as much of an art as it is a science, and many of the variables that make up the sum total of the parts are extremely complicated. If you don’t know what you don’t know, mis-information could lead to disasterous results. For instance, Union rates and rules are constantly changing along with equipment, technologies, post-production workflows and deliverables; not to mention state and country tax incentives. Just when you think you have it figured out along comes the latest digital camera and/or work flow which cost vs. production value changes everything.

An experienced film budgeting professional service can, therefore, be a great choice if you are unsure of what your budgeting priorities should be. A budget pro will have knowledge of the current Union and Guild rates and know how to properly calculate the complex overtime variables. Additionally, there are very often unforeseen costs that need to be anticipated during the course of a film shoot such as overruns in construction, special effects, location expenses or transportation expenses.

FILM BUDGET PRO ANECDOTE: I one client who had spent nearly $1000 on the software and contacted me for our Software Tutorial Service. After spending a few days showing this person the ins-and-outs of the software and how to properly research the myriad of Guild and Union rates for the cast and crew, they promptly decided to hire our full services and have us build the Budget for them.

A seasoned Line Producer with a professional movie budgeting service will have the experience to budget effectively for these ever-changing costs, and the wisdom to balance all of the different budgeting and schedule elements against one another. It is important to make sure that no one segment of your movie budget or schedule is receiving too much attention, or too little. The last thing you want is to run into expensive costs overages due to Union/Guild rules and/or Tier violations. These kind of expensive mistakes are not putting the money on the screen.

In conclusion, movie budgeting software can be the best choice for those who have the time are truly experienced in creating their own budget and/or schedule, or those who really need to save money and can’t afford to hire a professional movie budgeting service.

For everyone else, Film Budget Pro, will create your Detailed Budget and/or Schedule for you, and very often will help you save money on your film production and post-production costs in the long run. This is because our vast experience has revealed practically every “budget and schedule pitfall” and how to avoid them when creating your Detailed Budget and Schedule. When we encounter some new production challenge, that is when our experience is manifested in creative problem solving that is truly invaluable.

If you are interested in creating a movie budget and schedule that will be reliable when the rubber meets the road, then complete our Script Questionnaire and Contact Us today. We hope that this “Software or Service?” article helps you make the right choice on which route is best for you because we love helping filmmakers succeed.

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