Video Budgets

How to Manage Video Budgets

This question was sent in by a film student in Charlotte:
“How do you manage a budget for a new project and what are the kinds of things you need for a shoot?” My name is xxxxx, I am a student at the Art Institute trying to receive my film major. My reason for asking is because it’s for an assignment. If you don’t mind answering these questions, please contact me back. Thank you. No, I am not cheating my professor actually wanted “Real quotes” from local production companies.


Budgets can be very complex, if the client wants a huge production, or it can be simple. Contrary to what most students believe, most will never see an extremely complex budget. The norm for most will be creating a budget for a corporate marketing video, or for a film short. Either way, the process is similar to a grocery list.

Before you begin your grocery list (budget) , you need to know what foods (shots) will be prepared. To begin let’s list what shots are required for the shoot. In our simulation, let’s shoot a video to showcase two pieces of machinery, with five different areas to cover: sales, maintenance, service diagnostics, controls, and parts. To make things easy, we’ll break it down into three category needs: pre-production, production, and post-production.

What do we need to create before we shoot our video?

• Site Survey
• Scriptwriting
• Shot list
• Storyboard

Based on the script and storyboard, what is needed to create the shots?

• Personell
• Camera
• Lighting
• Sound Recording
• Items needed to move the camera
• Crafty Services

Using the storyboard as a guide, the editor will explain what will be needed.

• Footage
• Sound
• Sound Effects
• Motion Graphics
• Encoding


Once you have everything down, it’s just a matter of putting a cost for each of those items and adding it all together. Obviously, I have simplified this process, for example, the lighting category would include any lighting needed, plus C-stands, light modifiers, etc. My goal is to give you an overview of the budgeting process.

Once the budget is complete, it’s a matter of keeping the production within those cost parameters. For more complex budgets, I would recommend a software such as Movie Magic Budgeting. Programs like this one will help create extremely detailed budgets, but is an overkill unless you’re shooing a feature film, managing many actors, lodging, equipment, meals, etc.


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