What is the difference between an indie film budget and a major studio movie budget?

When creating a film budget and schedule production services package for film producers, writers and directors it is important to know whom your end user is going to be.   General formatting of a film budget varies from studio to studio and between production companies.

While there is some standardization in accounts used by the various production companies, with each having there own chart of accounts, they likewise each have their own way of outlining and detailing the accounts and categories that make up a film budget and shooting schedule.  When it comes to indie film budget and schedule creation the field is much wider as are the options and possibilities for style, standards and formats.

A quality indie film budget and schedule has all of the basic elements of a major Hollywood studio movie budget, yet with somewhat more detail and some elements that are not required by a studio film budget set of documents.  For example, an indie film budget will almost always have a completion bond as part of its bottom line expenses.   A completion bond can be thought of as somewhat like an insurance policy, for the investors.   The bond as it’s known as protects the film financier from overages and the possibility that a film cannot be completed.   The completion bond company charges a fee and will interject itself and its professionals into the production process to ensure a film production is completed according to its indie film budget and schedule as layed out in pre-production film budgeting process.

A major Hollywood studio film budget on the other hand will generally not have a completion bond expense included due to the fact that a deep pocketed film production studio can insure itself against such calamities.   This is done with management control over the production, proper oversight and a realistic approach to studio film budgeting which may be absent in the much larger and far reaching indie film budget universe.   Similarly whereas an indie film budget and schedule may not contain a large overhead charge from the production company, a studio film budget will almost certainly carry a large overhead charge against the overall film budget perhaps as high as 10-15% of the budget.   This charge not only helps offset overages in productions under their supervision, it also helps defray office, facilities, executive travel and other business expenses by recouping them from the movie budgets of their film productions.

Due to the above elements and the very nature of indie film budgeting and scheduling, the common fact is that these film budgets are lower in general.   While not carrying the overhead expense, indie films also can shoot for less, do more with less and obtain more favorable rates across the board because they are not taking on such massive financial expenditures like the majors.



Indie film budget and schedule expert

‘The Mind of The Married Man’ / Producer / Unit Production Manager

FilmBudget.com founder, film and television producer Jack Binder produced the HBO critically acclaimed tv series ‘The Mind of the Married Man’.    The tv show ran for two seasons before Binder went on to produce the New Line Cinema release of ‘The Upside of Anger‘ starring Kevin Costner, Joan Allen, Evan Rachel Wood, Kerri Russell, Erica Christensen and Alicia Witt.

HBO subsequently wished to finance a third season before Jack moved on to produce “Man About Town‘ starring Ben Affleck and then ‘Reign Over Me‘ starring Adam Sandler and Don Cheadle for Columbia Pictures.   The tv series was controversial for its dealing with marriage issues in a comedy program.    Here is the opening title sequence of ‘The Mind of the Married Man’.


The Mind of the Married Man







Filmbudget.com is the international leader in worldwide film budget and schedule line producer production services for indie film and studio production.   For film budget production services in Europe, Australia, Canada, The United States, Latin America, Eastern Europe and worldwide, veteran line producer Jack Binder provides twenty-five years of extensive experience on major Hollywood studio and indie film production.