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 Inc. 2015 All Rights Reserved | Sony Announces the New F55 & F5 CineAlta 4K Digital Motion Picture Cameras



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Sony Announces F5 and F55 Cinema Cameras


The digital cinema camera market has been quite competitive as of late: RED has the Epic, Canon has their C-series, and the new kid on the block, Blackmagic Design, has their Cinema Camera.  Depending on the scope of a productions film budget the options remain extensive and growing daily.


Sony is now stepping up to the plate with their newly announced PMW-F5 and PMW-F55, slated to be released in January or February of 2013, and it sounds as though they have knocked it out of the park.  The CineAlta motion picture cameras provide filmmakers the tools to shoot their movie production with scalable technical tools depending on the budgets available.



Both cameras feature a new 4K Super 35mm image sensor (4096 x 2160), a lightweight, modular body, FZ lens mounts (but come with a PL adapter), new, faster SxS cards, and a brand new recording codec (XAVC). Sony will also be releasing their second generation of CineAlta PL prime lenses with the cameras.


While the cameras are set to release early next year, the full potential will not be realized until Sony releases a free “planned upgrade” and their external recorder (AXS-R5). See the specs below for more info:


Brief specs comparison:





Frame Rates:


60 fps out of the box (XAVC HD at launch; XAVC 4K, QFHD and 2K with a planned upgrade)


180 fps with a planned upgrade (XAVC 2K/HD). Unique to this process, there is no line skipping or sensor windowing. So there’s no crop factor, no loss in angle of view.


240 fps 2K RAW, with the optional AXS-R5 outboard recorder and a planned upgrade, achieves the highest frame rates most productions will need, while retaining exceptional, 16-bit image quality. This not only exceeds 12-bit RAW with 16 times as many Red, Green and Blue gradations. By design, it exceeds the capabilities of human vision!


Simultaneous RAW + Onboard SxS recording (with external recorder)



4K/2K RAW + MPEG-2 HD422



*expected with future upgrade


– Global Shutter (eliminates rolling shutter issue)


– 4K output via HDMI or 3G-SDI







60 fps out of the box (XAVC HD).




120 fps with a planned upgrade (XAVC 2K/HD). Unique to this process, there is no line skipping or sensor windowing. So there’s no crop factor, no loss in angle of view.


120 fps 2K RAW, with the optional AXS-R5 outboard recorder and a planned upgrade, achieves high frame rates while retaining exceptional, 16-bit image quality. This not only exceeds 12-bit RAW with 16 times as many Red, Green and Blue gradations. By design, it exceeds the capabilities of human vision!








4K/2K RAW + MPEG-2 HD422




– No Global Shutter



– No 4K out






The official price has yet to be announced, but these cameras are meant to fill in the gap between the F3 and F65, so it is safe to assume somewhere between $16K and $65K, with the F5 being the cheaper of the two.


Click here for Sony’s full information page for the F5.


Click here for Sony’s full information page for the F55.

Summer 2012 Studio Tentpole Film Budget List

Summer 2012 is shaping up the be the summer of the most expensive blockbuster production film budget expenditure of all time.  With the Major Hollywood Studio’s revenues on decline the ‘Tentpole’ movie with its enormous budget is seen by the bean counters as the certainty in a changing and declining revenue landscape.   As digital proliferation of films, piracy, the economy and falling dvd sales take their toll on the bottom line the studios and larger indie production companies like Lionsgate / Summit are betting big on the VFX / CGI laden popcorn, super-hero action movie like never before, clearly.

With a continually more fragmented audience, growing cable channel line-ups and expanding reality television programming it has likewise become increasingly more difficult to reach the fans to put ‘bums in seats’.  Part of the calculations certainly must include the broad reach of the superhero, sequel, ‘based on the television series…boardgame…’ franchise which aids in the marketing of these productions.  Utilizing the convenience of familiarity the bet is on recognition factor.   Not detailed in the proliferation of newsworthy budget figures are the massive amounts being spent to promote these behemoths and guarantee the return on investment at this massive scale.


Summer 2012 Studio Tentpole Film Budget List:

The Lorax                                  $70,000,000

John Carter                              $250,000,000

Hunger Games                          $80,000,000

The Avengers                          $220,000,000

Battleship                               $200,000,000

The Dark Knight Rises             $250,000,000

Men In Black III                      $215,000,000

Prometheus                            $200,000,000  (rumored)

The Bourne Legacy                 $90,000,000 (unconfirmed)

Total Recall                           $200,000,000


* Film budgets are gathered from available industry trade data, news articles and published reports.  Actual film budgets are intentionally guarded secrets by the studios and released, confirmed or denied for marketing and/or corporate rationale and should always be taken with a good dose of scrutiny as to the actual figures.

By Jack Binder

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.




How Do I Get a Film Budget?

For many years it was not readily known how one goes about getting a film budget for their movie production.   Jack Binder, Producer of ‘Reign Over Me’ and ‘The Upside of Anger’ realized a gap in this realization back in 1997 and sought to make available for fellow filmmakers a film budget process whereby they could get a film budget for their project.  Jack Binder created the first online film budget production service.

Jack continued to evolve the concept but the basic working structure was that a film budget would be required in order for a director, actor, writer or producer to embark on obtaining film financing for their film production.  By using his extensive experience in creating motion pictures and likewise film budgets for all of his movies and television shows, Binder realized that he should have a ready answer for the many co-production partners, film finance executives, bank lenders and major studio executives who were approaching him about creating a film budget and schedule for their productions.

Finally it really hit home when reworking a film budget over and over again, that it became very evident that the process and knowledge involved was fundamental to receiving that elusive of all treasures, the Greenlight.  Through an ability to respond to questions and by knowing his film budgets inside and out, and through meticulous film budgeting experience Jack was able to remove the obstacles to getting the film into production.

Contact for an accurate and proven film budget for your production – and get that greenlight!



The Marché du Film – Festival de Cannes | The Cannes Film Market – The Cannes Film Festival

The Cannes Film Festival’s marketplace for the cinema industry

When:   11 May to 22 May 2011

Where:  Cannes, France

Who:     Jérôme PAILLARD is the Executive Director for the Marché du Film

Website:   MARCHE’ DU FILM

The Cannes Film Festival is one of the world’s most prestigious and oldest film festivals. The private event is held annually in the month of May at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès in the resort town of Cannes, south France.

Last Year’s President of the Jury for the 2010 Cannes Film Festival was American film director Tim Burton.  This year, the 64th edition of the Festival is scheduled to be held from 11 May to 22 May 2011. The President of the Jury is American actor Robert De Niro.

The Cannes Film Market  |  Marche’ du Film

One of the Festivals annual events is the Marché du Film, which also gathers at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès simultaneous to the Film Festival.  The Marché du Film is a hot-spot for buyers, distributors and producers for the ten day slot, dedicated to meetings and negotiations.   Global film productions engage here to obtain film distribution, film finance and foreign sales territory by territory.

This unrivaled international event allows for all professionals to develop their projects, establish co-productions and partnerships, and present their latest news.  The Marché du Film has been facilitating such exchanges, along with other buyers and sellers of the film industry since 1959, making it a major international platform for film commerce.    Producers prepare their film budgets for investors and distributors to engage in the film finance contributions to the film production.

Foreign sales companies set up shop and show their upcoming film productions, completed films and projects in development.   Many screenings take place during the Marche’ in conjunction with the Cannes Film Festival itself.  Filmmakers seek to show their films and also to finance their movie budget by raising awareness.  Film distributors are also out in force looking for the next hit film and demonstrating their current line up of films, and to find the right projects at the right film budgets to fund for their film slate of pictures.    About 10,000 persons participate with over 400 exhibitors at the Cannes Marche’ du Film – Cannes Film Market at the Cannes Film Festival.

Likewise the stars come out in force to lend their promotional support for the movie projects they are either attached to or have performed in previously.   Directors as well attend and in conjunction with the other talent help raise interest, awareness and film budgets and worldwide distribution for their movies.   Press junkets are common and the glamour of Hollywood movie stars is a welcome addition to the proceedings at every stage.

The Marché du Film, in the words of Gilles Jacob, President of the Cannes Film Festival, is “a hive of activity”, focused on the prosperity and achievements of quality cinema.  The Festival de Cannes would not be the same today without the Marché du Film.  It’s an exceptional and efficient meeting place of the cinema world, uniting artists with professionals and the media, on the French Riviera.

Maps, Transportation and Accommodation, Information

In order to participate in this coming years Marché du Film, you can book your screenings and register your company online commencing February 2011 Click Here.

Movies produced prior to 2008 and those that were already screened at a prior Marché du Film will not be accepted.

For information concerning short films, please contact the Short Film Corner at:

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The worldwide leader in global film budgets and schedules for the motion picture industry.

Red Epic | Top Ten Questions with Ted Schilowitz | Film Budgets

Red Epic | Top Ten Questions with “Leader of the Revolution” Ted Schilowitz.   Ted travels to Vietnam to meet with a Red vendor as the entire film industry there has turned to the Red Camera Systems mostly due to its impact on film budgets and the incredible image quality.   Shilowitz discusses the release date (which occurred in December 2010)

Film Budgets | Section 181 Federal Film Tax Incentive Renewed

President Obama signed into law on Friday, December 17, 2010 a tax package which contains the extension of Section 181 in the form of Section 744.   Qualifying productions included film and television production, audiovisual, dvd programs which were produced in 2009, 2010 and which have film budgets of $15 Million or less and those which will be produced in 2011.

Section 181

Section 181 provides for a 100% tax write-off for a film equity investor in entertainment productions as opposed to the standard three year staggered write-off.   Know as the ‘Runaway Production” tax bill, Section 181 helps film budgets with its benefit of allowing investors to take advantage of the 100% write-off.

Film Tax Incentives

The write-off of film tax incentive can be combined the many state film tax incentive programs around the country:  Michigan, New Mexico, Louisiana, Georgia, etc.    Combining such film tax credits with Section 181 can contribute a substantial return to your investors which you may offer them which can be very enticing to a film financier.    The government wisely realized that helping financiers focus their film investments locally can improve the film industry in the USA and was designed to help fight the flight overseas, particularly to Canada which was growing as producers sought lower production costs and the previously lower Canadian dollar exchange rate.

Film Budgets

In todays economy and tight credit market film budgets are much more under scrutiny if able to be found at all!  Film finance is at its tightest point in decades, if not a generation.   While is the global leader in worldwide film budgets and schedules we also figure the most advantageous place to shoot a movie or television production taking into account the local labor scenario, the best film tax incentives and of course the highest production value which the particular setting may offer.

Movie Budget | Peter Jackson to Shoot ‘Hobbit’ on the RED – EPIC !

Director Peter Jackson (Lord of the Rings) will shoot two ‘The Hobbit’ movies on the new RED EPIC camera.   According to RED founder Jim Jannard, Jackson will use up to 30 of the yet released Red Epic cameras for 3-D versions of ‘The Hobbit’ and its sequel.   While clearly reducing the movie budget element for film and video as well, the use of the Red is a stunning development in placing the camera at the top of the movie production world in technology reduction in film budgets and utilization by the industry.   Shooting will take place in New Zealand following a major spat over actors unions and a massive effort by the government to lure Jackson to keep the film there due to the economic benefit.

The small size of the camera makes it extremely suitable for stereoscopic 3-D application in convenience for side by side mounting and lack of a need for tethered VTR’s as the camera is wire-free.    While the announcement is an astonishing development for large scale film production the news is especially significant for the cost lowering effect on the movie budget of independent filmmakers.