How to get the most out of your filming budget

Posted on Thursday, July 14th, 2016 by

When working in film and video production the same balancing acts take place on every job:

  • Treatment vs filming budget
  • Quality vs cost
  • Quantity vs time

We all want the most out of our client’s filming budget, but how do you really achieve it? We had an exciting (open) brief from a great (trusting) client of ours, Belron International.

They had a message about evolving technology in cars and how they were adapting their business to accommodate that change.

Belron

The client picked the treatment they liked from our suggestions and that familiar game had begun! Ambition vs reality. The five points below are my thoughts on how our team manages to get value out of every penny a client spends. I hope it proves useful when making sure you’ve covered every angle in your upcoming production!

1) Preparation

It sounds obvious but preparation can mean a lot of different things, and it’s important to take a moment to assess what’s right for your project.

Script, shooting schedule, recces – all things every project should have in place. Our real dilemma for this project was rig day or no rig day?

Belron Set UpIn an attempt to juxtapose the technology we were discussing and create some added drama, we found a real dilapidated warehouse location to shoot in. We knew we could afford two days in Production, our options were:

a) Two shooting days with lighting set-ups and rigging happening throughout

or

b) A rig day with a skeleton crew, then a day of dedicated filming with quicker shot turnaround.  

We went with the latter, which was the right call for us. Rigging a lighting set-up for a car, blacking out the space and live projections were time-consuming to set up. 

2) An ironclad script

The importance of this differs depending on the project. Is your film mainly voice-over driven? If so, it’s probably easier to accommodate last-minute alterations.

Belron Shoot

Ours was a presenter-led piece, so having the script nailed down was a must. It allows your presenter to really prepare while increasing productivity on shoot days (those are the expensive ones with all the people).

No matter how prepared you are or if your scripts are signed off, last-minute changes could happen. If they do, you’d better hope your actor/presenter is up to the task (and Jonathon was!).

3) Practical or not?

Car PostFlexibility is important when achieving the best bang for your buck! As a director, I like to get as much of the effect work as possible on camera. It’s just the way I like to work and I think the results are always better. Sometimes it’s impossible (sorry kids, the Millennium Falcon isn’t real) and sometimes it just isn’t cost-effective.

When we put this concept together, I was adamant about achieving all projections on-set. Once we investigated options, it quickly became apparent that this was the expensive route and we weren’t going to get the quality of result we wanted.

After investigating post-production alternatives, we found a good method and a talented compositor. The results speak for themselves.

So ask yourself, are practical effects going to get you the best quality for the cost? Will a post-production option cost you less and achieve the high quality you need?

4) What’s capturing your masterpiece?

We’d all like to shoot every job on an F65 or IMAX from a helicopter but let’s face it, that’s going to cost you some dough and probably isn’t necessary.

Belron filming

Ask yourself the following:

  • Where’s it being shown? If it’s only ever going to be in a web browser, is there a reason you’re trying to shoot it on something features are shot on?
  • Will the audience appreciate (or even notice) the difference between the cheap option and the expensive one?
  • Will a cheaper format give you a comparable quality?
  • Is there a more economical option for additional kit? (Do you need that Steadicam or will a Ronin do? Is the height that crane gives you necessary, or will a jib or even a Polecam get the move at a fraction of the time/cost?)

We shot this on a Sony F5. It gave us the quality we needed and it was also the camera body my DOP owned, which brings me to the most important point.

5) Find good crew that you can trust

As anyone in our industry knows, when you’re going on a shoot you’re going to war! And you need to trust the men and women you’re going with.

Belron film set

If you’re shooting anything (especially anything ambitious), the days might run long and things might go wrong. You need to know that people can and will continue to perform at the top of their game for as long as you need them to.

It’s no good stretching a budget to find that all the footage from hours 14–16 of the shooting day are unusable. All the great crew that helped with this project deserve their bow, so they are all credited at the bottom of the blog!

Here’s the end product – the inspiration for the points on getting value for money above. Enjoy!

To see more of our video projects that we’ve created, from TV ads to brand films, visit our Video page.

Get in touch with us today to see what we can do for you.

 

Credits 

Jonathon Sutton – Presenter

Darren Suffolk – Director/Producer

Ryan Moore – Assistant Director/Producer

Matthew Glen – DOP/Cameraman

Sam Irwin – Camera Assist

Andy Kirk – Sound Recordist

Benjamin Skyrme – Gaffer

Robin Patterson – Spark

Guy Linton – Jib Operator

David Harriman – Runner

Dan Griffiths – Projectionist

Ed Crofts – Editor/Grade

Ben Young – Compositing/Graphic Design

Oscar Liddiard – Composer

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