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  • How much does it cost to shoot a short film?

    I have this amazing idea and I really want to shoot it this spring! Im so in love with it and im going to make it happen!

    I would like to get a few things straight:

    How much to rent a Red or Epic camera?

    How much for a crew of 3?

    how much for good sounds?

    Timeframe? - 3 days

    Thank you all so much for your responses!
    __________________________________________________ ________________________

    Answer: By BLAREmedia

    Originally posted by BLAREMedia View Post
    Your main costs are:

    Food - both crafty (snacks and water) and actual meals

    Permits - if any

    Props - if any

    Crew - You should pay for sound and probably the camera man. Find someone who lives near you and just ask if they will help. If your project is interesting enough then most DP's that are not super established just want to keep building their reel. And if you are shooting something that would look good on their reel then oftentimes that is enough to get them involved. But I wouldn't get hung up on specifically getting a RED. A 5DMk3, Sony FS100 or F3, Canon C300/500 or any number of other current Large Sensor CMOS chipped cameras can give you remarkably good results.
    Expect to pay a few hundred on sound. Make sure you are recording to a separate system and that your audio guy expects to use wireless lavalieres. If he/she doesn't have them then I would look elsewhere. You can typically get by on your first couple projects without paying the rest of the crew. You should try to as soon as you can as you get more experienced, but your pay to the crew should be done by you in pre production by doing your best to schedule, cast, write, scout and plan the hell out of your project. If you do that and create a professional shoot environment, then people will want to work with you for free because it is already a solid alternative to the other projects they typically work on. Make the production a pleasure and people will beat on your door to work for free. That being said, people still appreciate the effort of giving them $25-50. It's not much, but it shows that you value them and it makes it a job for them that they now will owe you something.

    Talent - Crappy acting will kill any project. No matter how good everything else is, poor acting will make it look, sound and feel terrible. Spend time in casting and do your homework. Sometimes the 'funniest' person is not the one you want for your comedic role, because they will make it about them and their talents, not the story itself. The same goes for drama. Expect to pay your lead actors $50-100 a day and you will get a solid team.

    Music Composition - It's best to set aside a couple hundred for this. You can get a remarkably good score for a short for a few hundred bucks.

    Color Grading - A good color grade can make a shit camera look marvelous and a bad color grade can make Epic footage look like trash. This is a very important step. Set aside a couple hundred or find an experienced person to do it for free one day.

    Factor in any other things like gas or location fees and go to it!

    You should be able to create a quality short for $1000 no problem. Focus not on the camera or lenses or lights as much though as the storytelling, acting, planning, pre-production and ideas. That will always be your most important thing.

  • #2
    Thats great man, I too have a short I would like to shoot this spring.

    Just to give you a heads up, my short is about 25 pages and it will cost me about $2,000 to film it the way I want. I also make sure to pay my crew so everyone is happy. You might be able to get away from spending lots of cash if you shoot on a different camera, maybe the Canon 5d mark ii?

    I have a few questions to help solve your issue

    RED ONE *or* EPIC - (With an experienced RED operator?) <--- Kind of a must

    What do you mean by good sound? Like sound when you watch a movie in a movie theater? That kind of sound?
    Distribber - Keep 100% of your film's revenue

    Comment


    • #3
      Professional Red user - Yes

      Well, maybe not that kind of good sound, but not sound that sounds far away

      Comment


      • #4
        I am interested in this info as well. I TOO really want to shoot a short this spring! I have $1,222 saved up so far and I would be will to go to cali to film it!

        Comment


        • #5
          Charles, Paul, I have pinged Justin (BLAREmedia) the top production company in the central valley! I have some ideas, but I want him to give you the most accurate answer.
          Distribber - Keep 100% of your film's revenue

          Comment


          • #6
            Your main costs are:

            Food - both crafty (snacks and water) and actual meals

            Permits - if any

            Props - if any

            Crew - You should pay for sound and probably the camera man. Find someone who lives near you and just ask if they will help. If your project is interesting enough then most DP's that are not super established just want to keep building their reel. And if you are shooting something that would look good on their reel then oftentimes that is enough to get them involved. But I wouldn't get hung up on specifically getting a RED. A 5DMk3, Sony FS100 or F3, Canon C300/500 or any number of other current Large Sensor CMOS chipped cameras can give you remarkably good results.
            Expect to pay a few hundred on sound. Make sure you are recording to a separate system and that your audio guy expects to use wireless lavalieres. If he/she doesn't have them then I would look elsewhere. You can typically get by on your first couple projects without paying the rest of the crew. You should try to as soon as you can as you get more experienced, but your pay to the crew should be done by you in pre production by doing your best to schedule, cast, write, scout and plan the hell out of your project. If you do that and create a professional shoot environment, then people will want to work with you for free because it is already a solid alternative to the other projects they typically work on. Make the production a pleasure and people will beat on your door to work for free. That being said, people still appreciate the effort of giving them $25-50. It's not much, but it shows that you value them and it makes it a job for them that they now will owe you something.

            Talent - Crappy acting will kill any project. No matter how good everything else is, poor acting will make it look, sound and feel terrible. Spend time in casting and do your homework. Sometimes the 'funniest' person is not the one you want for your comedic role, because they will make it about them and their talents, not the story itself. The same goes for drama. Expect to pay your lead actors $50-100 a day and you will get a solid team.

            Music Composition - It's best to set aside a couple hundred for this. You can get a remarkably good score for a short for a few hundred bucks.

            Color Grading - A good color grade can make a shit camera look marvelous and a bad color grade can make Epic footage look like trash. This is a very important step. Set aside a couple hundred or find an experienced person to do it for free one day.

            Factor in any other things like gas or location fees and go to it!

            You should be able to create a quality short for $1000 no problem. Focus not on the camera or lenses or lights as much though as the storytelling, acting, planning, pre-production and ideas. That will always be your most important thing.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thank you Justin, I have updated the original post to allow users with the same question a fast answer!
              Distribber - Keep 100% of your film's revenue

              Comment


              • #8
                Hey Nick, any chance users that post info like Justin can have a badge? To allow for donations in forum topics like this one? I know you have it in the tut section, just kind of thinking out load know what i means?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Charles View Post
                  Hey Nick, any chance users that post info like Justin can have a badge? To allow for donations in forum topics like this one? I know you have it in the tut section, just kind of thinking out load know what i means?
                  I will look into this for you Charles, I am happy you received your answer!
                  Distribber - Keep 100% of your film's revenue

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Richard here, my first post here..

                    I'm a production sound mixer, so I can give you a bit of my take on this, with a few tips in the sound department.

                    While some jobs on set are artistic in nature with a direct benefit to the artist, the Sound Mixer is only a technical job. He's a hired gun on set, and he (or she) is here to solve the problem of getting good sound, while production filming. Mostly I don't give a rats ass about the project.. I just do the craft, and I do it the best I can, given the circumstances and the tools at my disposable.

                    The sound department is broken up into 3 parts, with an option of a 4th. Sound Mixer, Boom Op, Cable Util, and Equipment. They are billed different because Labor is usually per hour, and equipment is a flat rate. Labor can be a flat rate, but it's basically calculated at 10 hours.. Anything over that would be Overtime. A base salary for low budget sound mixer is between 10/hr to 30/hr. Figure at least 10/hr for the boom op and utility. If your working on a feature, short, or some kind of scripted dialog project, then your going to have a sound mixer, and a boom op at the least. Don't make the sound mixer, do two jobs at once (i.e. boom op), because while this MAY be possible, your project suffers greatly. He wont be able to keep sound reports, or track down noises, or put mics on actors if you make him do two jobs at once. Your poor sound guy will have to hold an 80lb bag, while standing on set all day. Those sound gear bags are for 'run-and-gun' reality work, or ENG work.. not 12 hour film days..

                    While sometimes I've been known to forgo my salary, equipment is another story. Sound equipment is insanely expensive. While editing can be done on any laptop computer now, and cheap LED lights flood in, and DSLR cameras costing only about 2K are on every set, every price of sound gear goes up in price, year after year. The gear needed to do sound right, cost a lot, and there's NO way around it.

                    So, here's the hot tips.. for creating a budget for the sound department.

                    Everyone's salary for labor on set, is very negotiable. Figure about 100-400/day for the sound mixer, and 100-200/day for the boom op. If you find a guy or girl for cheaper, consider this is gift but make sure they have the experience. A sound mixer is a Key on your set, experience in keys is important.

                    If you look at most sound rental places, they have something called 'indie rental package'. This is a basic sound gear package for most indie type films. Rental houses charge about 600-700/day for this kit. Most sound mixer will rent their 'indie' gear for 350-500/day, HALF the cost of renting from a rental house. Sound Mixers can ALWAYS do rentals for 50% lower than any rental house. If you plan on filming for 1 week, you can ask for a 4 day rental too.

                    Make sure the sound mixer is using a multitrack recorder. In post you'll want every single mic on set, with it's own track. This way if one wireless drops out, it doesn't ruin your recording.

                    Make sure that mutlitrack using a TimeCode. If so, the sound mixer is responsible for a TC slate, also known as smart slate. This makes your editing a bit easier, so as to match the video with the audio.

                    Make sure your sound guy gives you IFBs. Headsets for each person on set, needing to listen to your audio.. scripty, boom op, director, producers, etc.. anytime a 'video village' is in use, you'll need IFBs so you can hear the sound. Remember digital film making, is different than analog. Use those tools.

                    If your going to use a secound camera, your going to have to get another boom op. The boom can NOT cover 2 places at once.

                    The sound mixer should provide you with a flash drive, CD, or USB with ALL the audio, at the end of each day. Check and make sure he is filling out a sound report, as this can speed up your post department allot.

                    I can give you tons of details about how to hire a sound guy, or girl.. But the bottom line is.. like any valuable crew member, your going to have to 'stumble' upon that one person you like!! A huge part of my work is referrals from other producers. Or someone runs into me on set, I give them my card..

                    I've heard some real horror stories from producers about the sound department.. There's some really bad sound mixers out there, unfortunately. I recommend that you don't drop the ball here, do your research, just like your DP, and call those references.

                    And, finally, you need to get used to Deel Memos. Deel Memos spell out exactly what your getting, and for how much. Get used to reading, writing, and understanding those.

                    I'm a firm believer in 'an educated producer, is a much better producer'. Feel free to email me, with any question about hiring sound. I'll try to give you my honest opinion..

                    Good luck.. Richard Ragon (production sound mixer). (soundguy[at]hanaho.com)

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Wow, Richard I didn't even see this post. Fantastic job on explaining your experiences. Thumbs up man!!!
                      Distribber - Keep 100% of your film's revenue

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        No Problem Nick,

                        I realize the sound department is a black art for most new producers. Many new producers, simply don't even know what questions to ask, when it comes to the sound, and take the simple approach where they think it's just one guy holding a boom pole. ITS NOT!

                        Because of this confusion, many producers also try to solve the 'sound' delima by just acquiring or buying a bunch of sound items, and then try to fill the position with the first person who says yes to that job. THIS IS A HUGE MISTAKE. Handing a bunch of gear, that was assembled by someone who doesn't know anything about sound, and then expecting someone to fix it, is a receipt for a disaster. If a key component of the sound gear fails or is missing.. and you just have some guy standing there.. I can guarantee, the producer will NOT be blaming the gear for the failure!!

                        Because most sound guys (and girls) have their own (tested and true) sound equipment, they know that gear, and they have plans for backups just in case. And, they lease that equipment to the production, at much better rates that any sound rental place could.

                        And, finally.. NEVER EVER wait till the week before your shooting to go find the sound mixer.. Most good sound mixers are booked up months before. Include the sound mixer as part of your KEY team, and location scouts if at all possible too!

                        So remember, every film-making book thats ever been written, always talks about how 'the sound department' is always the best investment that pays well after your in post. My personal goal is ZERO ADR, and total asset organizations... a goal that can save you thousands while in the post process, and make many people very happy later on.

                        Thanks

                        -Richard

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Hi Richard,
                          I have a question. What is considered good or acceptable on-location recording? No matter what the situation, there are always background sounds in my dialogue recordings. Sometime I only hear them when I have the headset on but not through the speaker. I'm using an Me-66 Sennheiser. Are these background sounds in the dialogue tracks of professional recordings also?
                          Phil

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            This goes off from the point of this topic.. which is about budget.

                            But, in general, bad is anything that can overtake your dialog level, or bring attention to your edit. Inconsistency will bring attention to your sound. Which means camera is facing actor 'A', then camera cuts to actor 'B' and if we hear a difference in sound, this brings attention to the edit, which is bad!

                            Lets face it, we live in the city.. sound is always around, but we need to do our best to minimize any background noise, and if we can't, keep it low and consistent.

                            -Richard

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Charles,
                              It really all depends on your skill level. The more you know, the less you have to rely on other people for.
                              I've produced several shorts and the only money I spent was on craft service for the cast and crew.
                              You can find good cast and crew members to work for free, but you definitely want to feed them.

                              I only spent $100 to make my fan film Jason vs Leatherface.


                              Of course I did all the preproduction, filming, directing, and editing/sound.


                              On the other hand, I spend $10,000 on this short film



                              When it's all said and done, I've seen more Return on Investment from the Jason vs Leatherface Fan Film...

                              Director Duncan
                              Trent Duncan
                              CEO/Filmmaker
                              TrentDuncan.com
                              Online Film School Boot Camp

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