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View Full Version : IndieBudgetBuddy 2.0 - Free Film Budget Estimator



yevlar
10-02-2005, 02:23 AM
A couple of years ago, while bored with audio editing on a feature film project, I decided to try to figure out a budget for a new movie. And since I like to be complicated (and cheap), I decided to make a template so I could estimate a budget in different formats and with different options without having to go through a ton of work, or spend money on one of those "professional" budgeting applications.

What resulted was IndieBudgetBuddy, a Microsoft Excel template that can simultaneously estimate a film's budget in 35mm, 16mm, HD, and SD aquisition formats, with lots of options for cameras, gear, accessories, services, and salaries from pre-production through distribution.

It's not intended to replace those expensive budgeting applications, but it's a nice thing to have for those of us who can't afford them. :-)

The lastest version is IndieBudgetBuddy 2.0, and it has lots of cool new features, including a new Promotion section, where you can estimate costs of film festival submissions, screener duplication, poster and postcard printing, trailer editing and blow-up, EPK's, etc.

If you're curious, go to http://www.birdlingbrains.com/
and click of IndieBudgetBuddy.

And yes, this is completely free for anyone who wants it.

khmuse
10-02-2005, 08:22 AM
Hey Richard,

Thanks for sharing the spreadsheet! I will be putting this to use today, and will be interested to see how your numbers compare to a budget that I got from EP.

yevlar
10-02-2005, 01:18 PM
I'd be interested to find that out myself. Keep me posted.

orientedx3
05-28-2008, 09:03 PM
do u have a mac version of the software?

pmark23
05-29-2008, 02:25 AM
It's just an Excel spreadsheet. Does the job though.

slimchrisp
05-29-2008, 05:16 AM
you can use open office to read an excel file on a mac. of course you could also use office for mac, but personally i'm not installing any m$ software on my shiny macbook pro though.

Chuklz
06-13-2008, 12:52 PM
This is pretty sweet. I've taken a glance at it and I really appreciate all the boredom time you put into it. Thanks.

Erez Henya
06-15-2008, 12:24 PM
Excellent! how about film music costs though? these can be estimated with a few variables in mind, such as:
Estimated length of original score (in minutes):
(you'll have to estimate that unless you shoot your film to the soundtrack, and you probably don't). Helpful guidelines: 50% of the film's runtime is a good place to start with for the average score. Action/adventure/horror/children's films sometimes call for more, somewhat around %70, dramas and comedies occasionally call for less, about %35 of the film's runtime.) Obviously, the longer the score is, the higher the music budget is gonna be.
Importance of live musicians:
When playing an excellent score (and led by a good conductor), they'll take your film to new heights, guaranteed. For estimations, feel free to contact me personally. A cheaper alternative is synths, which aim to create the illusion of live musicians. Nothing can be compared to actual players who're gonna bring their hearts to the scored scenes, but it's better than nothing! when budget won't allow the hiring of live musicians, the good film composers will often master synths pretty well (for selfish examples, try this link (http://www.erezhenya.com/audioandvideo.htm)!) A favorite alternative of mine, when budget won't allow a live orchestra, is to mix specific live instrumentalists (which are musically "in the foreground", such as solo vocalists, solo flutists, etc) with synths, and record them in smaller studios (sometimes, home studios will do as well.)
Your desired standards!
let's put the cards on the table - many composers suck at negotiations. They want experience and credits so much that they're gonna score your film for free. Yes! that's right. But then come other composers who'll justifiably ask for 1M$ or more, and that's only for their own personal fee, their net personal fee. So who's doing wrong? neither of them! it's just a matter of quality. From a professional point of view, free composers (and I'm not talking about your friend composers who feel uncomfortable charging you) have a horrible tenancy of ruining films, and should not be hired. While paid composers will usually justify their fees. As a rule of thumb, the higher they'll get, the higher you'll get. So do spend the time choosing the right composer to score that film of yours, and be willing to pay for it (remember, film composers need food and electricity at home too!). Fees vary from composer to composer, so for that Excel spreadsheet, you can use different tariffs for different "desired standards", say, from 1 to 5. For approximate fees for each level, feel free to contact me personally. So that's it basically! we have the length of score, level of music and "live players vs. synths" issue all on the table. There are tons more of optional variables (orchestrator needed? copyists? on how many tracks to record? how about air conditioning for the players? mixing fees? mastering fees? then what with royalties to the composer?) but it shouldn't worry any filmmaker as either the composer himself or another production assistant will be responsible for those calculations, so you could do your real job, which is directing/producing the film the best way!

Take it easy, and take care of yourself.

tmnt
06-15-2008, 03:39 PM
Thanks mate, will definitely take a look.

El Gato Negro
01-05-2009, 12:24 PM
you really broke it down. awesome template.

filmman
01-06-2009, 09:04 PM
I couldn't find it.

The font was size 1 and it was in the lightest grey over a white background.

I can't see it like this. Why do people design pages like this?

Thanks for your help.

jpbankesmercer
01-07-2009, 04:10 PM
Thanks. Great idea!!
J.P.

Doc Bernard
01-08-2009, 10:27 PM
I just found this. Very Impressive! Thank you. I have a "Infomercial" I have been asked to do budgeting for and produce.

This is going to be real handy for some nice rough numbers.

Patryk_Rebisz
01-25-2009, 01:24 PM
I looke at 1.6 version. Your crew rate estimates are totally unrealistic. Which DP on 35mm shoot will work for $200/day? An AC at $150 will be doing you a favor so that means he'll often be gone (often providing a replacement) for better paying gigs thus the team will never work to the best of its capacity. I mean some of the rates are downrate insulting. Grip at $50/day, Makeup at $50/day...

Bro, your beautifully pre-produced film most likely will be a disaster thanks to hiring people at below they rate or not hiring pros.

Yeddi
01-25-2009, 01:40 PM
I looke at 1.6 version. Your crew rate estimates are totally unrealistic. Which DP on 35mm shoot will work for $200/day? An AC at $150 will be doing you a favor so that means he'll often be gone (often providing a replacement) for better paying gigs thus the team will never work to the best of its capacity. I mean some of the rates are downrate insulting. Grip at $50/day, Makeup at $50/day...

Bro, your beautifully pre-produced film most likely will be a disaster thanks to hiring people at below they rate or not hiring pros.

I guess that would depend on whether these numbers are ones that he just pulled out of his arse, or if they are rates that he has negotiated with friends (mates rates). For instance, my sister is an accountant, so in the pay for the accountant I have been able to negotiate a fee less then half price and know I'll get a more thorough job from her then someone else.

While I do admit that $50 a day does sound very low, producers can only pay what they can afford. Depending upon the timing of the project, if it is in the slow season, crew may be willing to work for less just so that they are working.

What this budget is missing is the explanatory notes minute that should go with all good budgets.

Patryk_Rebisz
01-25-2009, 02:58 PM
The template, and i understand it's just a template meant to plug in your own numbers, gives a wrong impression that you can actually get a pro crew at those rates -- and you can't, no matter how how you try, unless you are born into a film crew family and they don't mind taking a working vacation while doing your film.

Lor
02-10-2009, 11:15 AM
Maybe someone can program this into a web page calculator so that there is no need for using Microsoft's Excel application. I would if I have the time. It's a need little template. Thanks for sharing though.

Erez Henya
02-10-2009, 12:06 PM
Maybe someone can program this into a web page calculator so that there is no need for using Microsoft's Excel application. I would if I have the time. It's a need little template. Thanks for sharing though.

Load it into Google Docs and there you go!

yevlar
01-13-2010, 02:04 PM
Yowza - I haven't been by this thread in a while. :-) Thanks everyone for the kind words about the spreadsheet. I hope it's been helpful!

To answer some of the questions raised above - yes, the numbers for cast and crew rates were, for lack of a better term, pulled out of my arse. But allow me to explain the context. Yes, on either of the coasts, these rates would garner either laughs or sucker punches from pro crews (which I honestly had no clue about back when this spreadsheet was authored.) But in middle-America, specifically Michigan, I and everyone I knew were used to working on films with absolutely no budget whatsoever. The most expensive production I ever worked on had a budget of $8,000. So basically, if you got pizza, you were damn lucky. We were all people who were making films just for the joy of making films, and we worked our butts off trying to make the best movies we possibly could, so we could use them as examples to gather investors for bigger projects where everyone could actually be paid. And that's how the spreadsheet was made - with the interest of getting everyone at least something for their hard work without making the total budgets unrealistic for the ultra-low budget filmmaker. It's basically just one guy's attempt to estimate costs while still giving his friends something for their trouble.

When I first made the spreadsheet, I was really only concerned with the HD and SD estimate - I did the film sections just out of curiosity.

I'm always quick to say that the sheet is just for estimations - it's not intended to replace or even compete with the expensive "real" budgeting programs, but it does give you a rough ballpark of what to expect. And all the rate fields are unlocked and fully customizable, so anyone can plug-in any rate they want.

I hope that helps explain where my head was when I made the spreadsheet. I didn't intend to offend anyone or to imply that undercutting people's rates was a good practice. My intent was merely to help others figure out their budget situations.

And here's a direct link to the download page for the spreadsheet. Since I've changed career paths in recent years, the IndieBudgetBuddy page has become a tad bit buried in my new site.
http://www.mrboy.com/birdling/indiebudgetbuddy.html

The GoogleDocs idea is an interesting one - I may try to copy it over there one of these days, but I'd probably want to update the rates and incorporate some more of the ideas proposed here (and finally get the RED on there too), and I just don't have the time right now.

Thanks again everyone!

Zblock
01-13-2010, 03:35 PM
Great stuff and a lot of work I'm sure. I was a bit lost in all the numbers but I appreciate the work you put into it.