The 5 Steps To Creating a Professional Film Budget for Your Movie | Worldwide

5 Steps to Creating a Professional Film Budget for Your Movie

Creating a film budget for a feature film or a television show is a time honored tradition and craft of the Line Producer or Unit Production Manager. Using extensive experience in making films over many years the process draws on skills learned during these years of production and filmmaking.

To create a film or tv budget Line Producers and Production Managers apply their knowledge and process to create a real film budget and schedule which is used by financiers, investor, banks, film tax credit authorities, foreign sales companies and distributors to evaluate and execute the vision of the screenwriter and the director in coordination with the goals of the producer.

Here are the steps undertaken in creating a professional film budget & schedule:

1. Screenplay Reading – Creative Pass

The screenplay or teleplay is read for creative value and consideration first in order to take on the story, characters, dialogue and plot of the script.

The stars involved in productions Produced by Jack Binder

The stars involved in productions Produced by Jack Binder

2. Screenplay Reading – Production Pass

A second reading is undertaken to evaluate the script from a production viewpoint. Attention is paid to the overall elements, setting and style of the work.

3. Screenplay Breakdown

The next step is a complete breakdown of the total production and creative elements in the screenplay which are required to bring the production to life. Key considerations include bringing experience to bear to determine what the budget level for the picture will fall into: big budget major studio, indie film budget, low-budget or micro budget.

Cast – What level of cast does the story and production call for? How many? Will the highest level of stars be required or a variety of talent levels.

Setting/Locations – Using the Setting as a guide, location considerations are analyzed. Are there multiple countries? Multiple cities? Are there a large amount of locations or is the screenplay contained in its requirement?

Set Dressing – Is it Period? Will it require extensive Set Dressing components or will existing decorations be utilized and sufficient to achieve the vision?

Costumes/Wardrobe: Again, Period? Large Cast and various time periods which will affect the scope and amount of wardrobe required?

Special Effects: Are there needs for extensive Practical Effects (SFX)? Stunts? Pyro-technics? Mechanical rigging?

Transportation – Are there specific Transportation requirements? Travel? Picture Vehicles? Animals? to consider?

Post Production – Is the film, movie or television series heavy in VFX and CGI? Where will post production take place?

The list goes on to include all the departments and which are required to fulfill to requirements of the production. These are a few of the many, many considerations and preliminary decisions which must be analyzed during the screenplay breakdown process.


4. Create the Shooting Schedule

Based upon the Breakdown and the analysis of the screenplay elements a Shooting Schedule is then created. A veteran and seasoned Line Producer or Production Manager will have great experience in creating and delivering productions based upon their Shooting Schedules which they have created over the course of time and which they have consulted and executed with the First Assistant Director and Director of their films.

  • Each day is scheduled according to the scene work balance of the overall schedule.
  • Best practices and knowledge gained over years of experience guide the creation of a realistic and efficient plan for the work to be done.
  • Scene descriptions are included in the Stripboard Shooting Schedule to guide the crew.
  • Character Identifications are included to advise what Cast members are working each day

Using the above information a Cast Schedule can be created indicating the amount and which days the Cast work. Likewise Locations Schedule and all unique equipment (cranes, rigs, steadicam, etc.) days are included in the Master Shooting Schedule.

5. Creating the Film Budget

Once these processes are undertaken we are ready to commence with the actual film budgeting for the movie. With the above information in hand realistic budgets can then be created.

Knowing the scope and scale of the production will guide this step. Is it a big budget requirement, low budget or micro-budget or somewhere in between? Is this a Major Studio movie or an independent film production? These are critical factors in the creation of the budget.

Based upon the Setting and Locations envisioned for the picture then the best production center is chosen to shoot the film. The budget will consider these factors in selecting the ideal location to base the production.

Creative consideration is the top priority: can we shoot what the screenplay calls for in this particular region, country and city?

Production viability is then determined. Is there a sufficient film production crew base at this location? Will crew members need to be transported to this location? Is there adequate production support for equipment, materials and services? Hotels?, etc.

Next, finance consideration is analyzed. Assuming the best location is chosen for the creative and production value, what local film tax credit or production incentive is offered by this geographical area?

Countries worldwide offer film tax credits and incentives to film in their region. U.S. States likewise offer lucrative film tax incentives to draw production dollars and generate economic impact in their locales. Your film financier will most definitely consider and insist upon this as a key factor in choosing a location to shoot the movie or tv program.

Based upon these factors, with the right location chosen to shoot, the costs are then calculated.

What are the local crew rates?

What are the local materials and services needed and how much do they cost?

What are the costs of getting the cast and crew to the location?

All of these decisions are evaluated and the studio or indie film budget process gets down to the nitty-gritty of evaluating the costs of each element involved in the production. Cast fees, location expenses, production crew, logistics, travel, permits, etc. are included.

All productions are unique and each must be analyzed individually. The overriding goal is the create the greatest production value for the most efficient price.

Once these matters are analyzed and included based upon extensive experience the final step is to ensure inclusion of all expenses, including: Completion Bond, Insurance, Contingency, Finance Costs, Union and Guild Health & Pension costs, Cast Perks, etc. to create a realistic budget for the movie production.

While this is a summary of the work and knowledge that goes into the film budget process it is certainly not complete but should give an approximate overview of the process.

Financiers, Producers, investors, government institutions, production companies and sales companies rely on the accuracy of the work of the Line Producer or Production Manager to effectively and precisely understand and present the true cost of bringing the film to the screen. Small errors can compound to create enormous gaps in the overall financing of the film which can seriously impact the completion and delivery to distributors and therefore returns to investors.


Contact to obtain an instant quote on your film for a professional film budget and schedule, film tax credits and production incentives analysis and Film Finance Plans for your production.

Film Budget Inc. has created hundreds of budget and schedule packages for individuals, the Major Hollywood Studios, Mini Majors and independent production companies, financiers, investors and banks in addition to all of those of our own projects.

Jack Binder is Major Studio and Indie Film Producer with over 25 years of experience and the Founder of


Jack has served as an On-the-Lot Producer at The Walt Disney Company and Columbia Pictures (Sony Pictures Entertainment) and as the responsible Producer on productions for those Studios as well as New Line Cinema, Lionsgate Films, HBO, Sunlight Productions and many more major and independent film and tv production companies.

Binder’s international film production company is Greentrees Films

profile Founder & Producer Jack Binder Producer Credits

Producer Credits for Producer Jack Binder Founder of & Greentrees Films

Producer Credits for Producer Jack Binder Founder of & Greentrees Films

Actress Keri Russell, one of the stars of the new comedic drama film "The Upside of Anger," poses as she arrives for the film''s premiere in Los Angeles, March 3, 2005. The film stars Joan Allen who plays a suburban housewife with four young adult daughters who is left to raise them on her own, but soon falls in love with a neighbor played by Kevin Costner. The film opens in Los Angeles and New York March 11. REUTERS/Fred Prouser PREMIERE

Actress Keri Russell, one of the stars of the new comedic drama film “The Upside of Anger,” poses as she arrives for the film”s premiere in Los Angeles. The film stars Joan Allen who plays a suburban housewife with four young adult daughters who is left to raise them on her own, but soon falls in love with a neighbor played by Kevin Costner. The film opens in Los Angeles and New York March 11. REUTERS/Fred Prouser PREMIERE

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Top 10 Movie Grosses vs. Film Budget for Independent & Major Studio Releases 2014 compiled a report of the top ten indie film and major Hollywood studio movie grosses vs. the film budget for each listed movie released in 2014. While the film budget is not a direct correlation to the success of a movie it does provide an indicator of what the marketplace is responding to as compared to the relevant budget number.

Gross revenue figures are for domestic U.S. theatrical box office data which are current as of the date of this writing.  By using up-to-date figures the date of release is removed as a variable in the reporting of domestic theatrical revenue totals.

To create a breakdown of cost vs. revenue we looked at the widely reported expense of making the film production. P&A Marketing and release expenses are not included in the budget information provided.

Independent Film Release 2014 – Film Budget vs. U.S. Box Office Gross To Date

Indie Film Title                              Film Budget                   U.S Box Office Gross

The Grand Budapest Hotel              $31 million                            $59 million

St. Vincent                                       $13 million                            $43 million

Chef                                                 not available                         $31 million

Boyhood                                          $  4 million                            $24 million

Birdman                                           $22 million                            $24 million

The Theory of Everything                 $15 million                            $23 million

The Imitation Game                         $15 million                            $20 million

Wild                                                $38 million                            $38 million

A Most Wanted Man                       $15 million                            $17 million

Begin Again                                    $ 8 million                             $16 million


Major Hollywood Studio Release 2014 Movie Budget vs. Box Office Gross To Date

Movie Title                                                       Movie Budget     U.S. Box Office Gross

Guardians of the Galaxy                                       $170M                 $330M

The Hunger Games: Mocking Jay – Part 1           $125M                 $337M

Captain America: The Winter Soldier                   $170M                 $260M

The Lego Movie                                                  $  60M                 $258M

Transformers: Age of Extinction                          $210M                 $245M

Maleficent                                                           $180M                 $241M

X-Men: Days of Future Past                                $200M                 $234M

The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies                  $250M                 $255M

Big Hero 6                                                          $165M                 $222M

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes                          $170M                 $209M


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Film Budget | European Film Festival in China 2011


Europe is marketing its movies to China and apparently, the Chinese are loving it!


Such is the success of the annual European Union Film Festival in China that the event, which is now its fourth year, could be expecting greater numbers than ever before!  Last year, the event expanded to showcase films in three Chinese cities and according to EU Ambassador Markus Ederer, the number of moviegoers increased from 5,000 attendees in 2008 up to 13,000 in 2010.


What: European Union Film Festival


When: November 1st – 30th 2011


Where: Beijing and two other cities in China (TBA)


The film festival, organized by the Delegation of the European Union to China and supported by the Embassy of Poland,  invited all 27 EU Member States to showcase one recent, popular and successful film.


The organizers of the festival hope that the event will increase the appreciation of European films and culture among the Chinese, hence paving the way for the possibility of importing European movies into China in the future.


The films screened at this year’s festival include a diverse mix of local flavors and a wide-range of genres from comedies and dramas to documentaries. Moviegoers can view their films of choice in commercial theatres as well as in cultural institutions.


Among this year’s selections are some of the following European picks:


France – “The Piano Turner”


Denmark – “Aching Hearts”


Italy – “20 Cigarettes”


Portugal –  “Beauty and the Paparazzo”


Each film is screened in its original language with English and Chinese subtitles.


Meanwhile, the European Film Academy has unveiled its nominations for the 2011 European Film Awards. You can see a full list of the nominees on their official website –


Winners will be announced in a December 3rd ceremony in Berlin.




Film Budget | The international leader in worldwide film budgeting and scheduling production services for film finance, production incentives and film tax credits.




Film Production in the UK – Jan to Sept 2011


Film Production in the UK – Jan to Sept 2011 – Report from the BFI Research and Statistics Unit – 3 November 2011

Eighty-six films achieving film budgeting levels of £500,000 or more entered into principal photography in the United Kingdom during the first quarter of 2011.  This amount of production starts represented the lowest rate in 9 years.  Of these productions:

-Twenty-three were co-productions

-Forty-seven were domestic UK features

-Sixteen were inward investment films



Undoubtedly these figures have supported and lead to Prime Minister David Cameron’s recent extension of the film tax credits program through 2015.


Read the full report from the British Film Institute is the international leader in worldwide film budgeting and scheduling line producer film production services.


Film Budget .com | American Film Market (AFM) 2011 Film Finance and International Sales Roundup

American Film Market (AFM) 2011 Round-Up


The 2011 American Film Market is winding down at the moment and as promised, this year’s event is proving to be quite a success!   Though film financing remains a difficult proposition, projects with the right combination of well known talent, directors and strong marketing prospects funding is on the rise in combination with lenders, equity, gap,  film tax credits, co-productions, government funding and incentives.   The market is indeed hungry for quality films to distribute with solid packages, a film budget with a reasonable recoupment potential and name talent is the constant mantra.


Here are a list of some the deals that were made at this year’s AFM:  (updates forthcoming as we write)


* IM-Global takes rights to ‘The Sister’ for Europe, Latin America


* Universal Pictures International Entertainment has picked up rights to Content Film’s ‘Hard Boiled Sweets’ for the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Benelux and Scandinavia


* Drafthouse Films has picked up crime drama ‘Bullhead’ and raucous comedy ‘Clown’, for distribution in North America


* Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions has picked up domestic distribution rights to ‘Bel Ami’, from Protagonist Pictures. The company also picked up comedy ‘Bailout’ starring Jack Black, for multiple territories including North America, South America and Scandinavia.




* FiGa Films has picked up ‘The Last Christeros’ (Los ultimos cristeros) by Matias Meyer, which had its world premiere in Toronto Film Festival (link to blog on Toronto Film Festival), and ‘Machete Language’, directed by Kyzza Terrazas, which had its world premiere in Venice.


* FilmDistrict has acquired ‘Drive’ the Nicolas Winding Refn-directed film adaptation of James Sallis’ suspense-themed novel


* Sierra Pictures announced the acquisition of ‘Rampart’, a crime thriller starring Woody Harrelson. The company also picked up comedy ‘Darling Companion’, which stars Kevin Kline, Diane Keaton.


* Tiberius Film has picked up a trio of horror sequels – ‘Piranha 3D’, ‘Children of the Corn: Genesis’ and ‘Hellraiser: Revelations’ for the German market.


* Exclusive Media Group picks up international rights for ensemble drama ‘Disconnect’


* Lightning Entertaiment picked up 7 films including ‘Brake’, ‘Columbus Circle’ and ‘Wrath’, making their world premiere debut at the AFM. The other films are ‘Boy Wonder’, ‘Bloodwork’, ‘The Trouble with Bliss’ and ‘Scents sand Sensibility’


* Wild Bunch acquired the international rights to Academy-Award winner Geoffrey Fletcher’s directorial debut ‘Violet & Daisy’


* Los Angeles-based film production, financing and foreign-sales company Unified Pictures has entered into a three-movie deal with Vancouver-headquartered production-finance group Bron Studios




Announcements of major financings include:


* Exclusive will finance Matt Damon’s ‘Yesterday’ with Focus Features handling U.S.


* Endgame Entertainment announced the creation of Endgame Releasing, to provide as much as $500 million in funding for marketing and distribution of four to six wide release movies per year through major studios. One of the first movies to tap into the fund will be the movie ‘Looper’  starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Bruce Willis.


* W2 Media has come on to co-finance and distribute ”The Theatre Bizarre 2,” a sequel to Severin Films and Mataluna Prods.’ ”The Theater Bizarre” horror anthology.


* Green Isle Entertainment has entered into an initial $60 million dollar multiple picture financing agreement for film budgets with Allegiance Capital Corp.


* IM Global to finance $20 million action-drama ‘Hummingbird’.


These are just a few of the ‘official’ announcements. With the AFM still underway, many more similar announcements are anticipated in the coming days. With deals being made fast and furious – don’t miss your chance to catch a piece of the  action! For more information on this year’s AFM, check out the blog on is the international leader in worldwide film budget and schedule line producer film budgeting production services.  Film finance and camera ready movie budget and schedule packages.


American Film Market – AFM – International Distribution, Financing and Sales Market

AMERICAN FILM MARKET 2011 – Be Pro-active, Prepared & ready to Pitch!!


Are you an enterprising filmmaker, producer or writer with a brilliant idea looking to make the right connections in the business, obtain film financing and get your project underway?


Well, now may be the break you’ve been waiting for! If you don’t already know about the American Film Market, then its time to do your research and seriously think about attending this event.


There’s a well-known expression in the film business – its not what you know but who you know, that really counts.  It may be a common cliché but there is plenty of truth to the old saying. The problem most of us in the business encounter, however, is the ‘how’ and ‘where’ aspects of getting to meet these so-called ‘right’ people. This is precisely why forums like the American Film Market  (AFM) present such a golden opportunity.

A quick synopsis of the AFM – it is organized by the global trade association of independent film & television producers and distributors, known as the Independent Film & Television Alliance (IFTA). It is an eight-day event held in Los Angeles (from Nov 2nd -9th ) in which more than 400 films will be screened and more than 400 production/distribution companies will be exhibiting. It is an international event, with 8,000 attendees from more than 70 countries expected to attend. Furthermore organizers estimate that more than $800 million in deals will be closed this year.


What:  American Film Market

When: November 2-9, 2011

Where:  Loews Hotel – 1700 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA 90401



If that sounds enticing and you’re keen to get a piece of that estimated $800 million pie, then you’ve got be willing to pay the price for the ticket. Passes for the event start at $345 and upward.


Also, a word to the wise – be prepared. Like any opportunity, the AFM will be most lucrative to those who do their research and adopt a professional, business-like approach to the forum. Most importantly – do your research! This really cannot be stressed enough.  It is important to identify your goals – ask yourself, what it is you want to achieve from the AFM? Once you’ve identified what you want to get out of the forum, the next step would be develop a target list of the people you want to meet and then proceeding to scheduling the key meetings.


Finally, you should be aware – the AFM is not a festival. While a number of films are screened at the festival, there are no competitions and subsequently no prizes. It is essentially a coming together of a range of ‘buyers’ and ‘sellers’ in the film industry. An opportunity to network with your peers, raise money for projects and possibly even walk away with some signed contracts.


So be pro-active, be prepared and be ready to pitch! Keep these things in mind and you just never know what you may walk away with….




Get ready for the American Film Market with a film budget by – the international leader in worldwide film budgeting and scheduling production services.

Film financing, distribution, foreign sales, film tax credits and your investors require an accurate, quality film budget that is reliable and bankable.

Celebrating 25 years experience producing major studio and independent film for the international entertainment industry.



Film Budget Inc. | | Worldwide Professional Film Budgeting

Cost cutting in the film world has always been a buzz word.  However, in today’s credit strapped economy reducing the level of a film budget has become a necessity more than ever.

From large scale, tent-pole, enormous film budget productions to mid-level movie productions and of course the lower tier film budget range, the pressure from lenders, studios, production companies, investors and sales executives has increased dramatically.   Salaries have continued their downward plunge at all levels.

In addition to the financial downturn, the credit crunch and the lack of capital for movie production, the states have compounded the problem by pulling the rug out from under their growing local film industries that were beginning to gain self-sustaining momentum with the aid of film tax incentives programs which got the ball rolling.   Rather than stick with these job creating, and industry generating film tax credits, they have systematically pulled the plug on them, thereby exacerbating the film finance situation.  Fortunately, foreign governments realize the importance of supporting the entertainment (ie. culture) sector and they continue to expand their support mechanisms.

Therefore, filmmakers must do much more with much less, now more than ever before.  It is critical to have an extremely tight film budget and shooting schedule, however one with great production value built into it.  The critical eye of a seasoned line producer is required to make the tough decisions on where to cut the budget and where to enhance it.   Which departments can get by with less and which demand being saved from the axe?   A knowledgable line producer deals with these questions daily and reducing the budget is not new to them.

One such expert in the field of film budgeting is – founded by veteran major Hollywood studio and indie film producer Jack Binder (‘Reign Over Me’, ‘The Upside of Anger’, etc.)  Here is a video trailer of Jack’s producer credits:


AFM – American Film Market 2010

AFM 2010

The AFM 2010 American Film Market in Santa Monica, California kicks off Wednesday, November 3rd through Wednesday, November 10, 2010.   The premiere film market for independent film in the United States and the world AFM is on par with the Cannes Film Market of the Cannes Film Festival, Berlin Film Festival’s European Film Market, Sundance and now Toronto Film Festival as the mandatory stop for foreign sales agents, independent film producers, distributors, film buyers, producers representatives and production companies.   Productions with large film budgets to smaller movie budgets are represented here and every level of film budget in between representing the entire breadth and scale of the worlwide film production industry.

Worlwide Film Business

With the exponential growth in overseas (non-US domestic) theatrical and television outlets and demand, the AFM grew out of a need to represent buyers and sellers armed with finished films, screeners, scripts, film budgets and finance plans in a professional format and centralized location to conduct an incredible amount of business in a short period of time.   In order to fill supply chains built up by the demand from growing terrestrial, satellite, cable, DVD, pay-per-view globally, distributors have come to rely on the strength of the film business market presence and concentration that the American Film Market offers.

Global Entertainment Companies

Over 8,000 film executives and professionals from all regions of the globe come to participate in the industry’s ultimate film buying and selling event.   More than 400 production companies, distribution companies, foreign sales agencies and related firms are indeed in attendance with their screenplays, film budgets and finance plans, finished films and a film budget for marketing P & A, expanding their involvement in the current product pipeline business for movies, film, television, new media and all their related outlets.

Conferences, Seminars, Meetings

AFM likewise presents an ideal opportunity for filmmakers and movie industry pros to network, exchange ideas, movie budgets and product information.   Top notch conferences and seminars are held each year on film finance, foreign sales, movie marketing, film tax incentives, film tax credits, movie funds and film production.  This year is no exception with panels from industry leaders in film financing and heavyweights like Harvey Weinstein on the current state of filmmaking today.

Nowhere in North America will the film industry see a greater collection of film professionals dedicated to the production, finance, marketing and distribution of indie film and television. is the international leader in worlwide film budgets and movie budgeting services and global film tax incentive advisor.  Specializing in providing maximum film production value for the most efficient film cost each film budget is custom tailored to our client’s projects with meticulous attention to detail.  Contact us for a quote for your film budgets and schedules, film consulting and line producer and film budgeting services.

Film Budgets custom made by studio/indie line producer

Film Budgets | 3D Movie Cameras | Panasonic AG-3DA1

Panasonic introduces its AG-3DA1 integrated twin-lens Full HD camcorder as the world’s first pro quality Full HD 3D camcorder with SDHC media card recording. looks forward to further on location testing however this looks to be an incredible breakthrough in the race for quality 3D on less than Cameron film budgets for the masses.   As the industry embraces 3D many explosive arrivals are coming to be sure.   As we prepare movie budgets and proceed with film budgeting for our clients, we will certainly investigate the validity of the new Panasonic 3D camcorder as it applies to the professional film production and high quality moviemaking environment for economic features and television productions as required in today’s cash and credit challenged market.

Film Budgets for professionals by a veteran line producer are required by film finance lenders and investors. Contact us for a comprehensive package and thank you for visiting our film budget blog for serious filmmakers looking to move their projects forward to production.

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Film Budgets |Tax Incentives| Co-productions|Austria

Austria Film Fund

Film Location Austria enters the European film fund sector offering a nationalized film tax incentive to build upon indigenous and inward investment film production.
Current funding level is €20 million or USD $20M.
Details: 25% of total production spend in country or a cap of 15% the total amount allocated annually to Film Location Austria.
Local spend requirement: 25% of film budgets to be spent in Austria (20% for movie budgets over €10 million).
Applicants must pass an economic point system and cultural test following local and EU guidelines.

Recent films shot in Austria:
Knight and Day starring Kiera Knightly/Tom Cruise
The Pillars of the Earth
Quantom of Solace starring Daniel Craig as 007


Check out our summary of film budgets film festivals with fest dates, submission deadlines and updates.

Movie Budget

A movie budget is critical to moving your production forward to production and distribution. The key document in any film business plan, quality movie budgets are required by banks, lenders, completion bond companies and film fund authorities. Likewise, film tax incentive establishments will insist upon a budget for your project in order to consider it for investment. When you need a film budget contact us for a thorough analysis, consultation and delivery of a complete finance and camera ready budget and schedule.   A veteran film producer provides you with extensive film budgeting advice and consultation in delivering a finance and camera ready movie budget for investors, lenders and foreign sales companies to evaluate a film project with credible analysis and reliable figures.

Movie Budgets by a line producer