So you’re producing that fantastic film idea you have. The script is done, dusted and ready to go. You’ve got your dream team ready and those actors convinced. You’re bursting with excitement at the amazing opportunities you know this production will bring your way. In basic terms – you are bossing life.
Except for one little problem. You need to cut your budget from the “this is what it deserves” amount, to the “I’m never going to sleep and hobby lobby is going to become my new best friend” amount. Yup, those realisations suck and even worse, budget slicing is hard! However, if you’re willing to roll up your sleeves and a little messy, then here are a few of my favourite hacks for resizing that budget nicely.
Yup! This one might be painful to bear, but accepting (and getting other members of your team) to take deferred pay can be one of the best ways of reducing your budget. What it basically means is once my production is out there and starts recouping money, only then will I dish out the pay checks (before recouping the investment). As long as you have very passionate people on board who believe in this project, then this is a great option. Just make sure you state clearly which members of the production get paid first. It can otherwise get a little messy!
Oh we are all about that tax rebate. Certain cities, such as Atlanta and Toronto, have wonder Tax incentives for the film industry in their cities. I’ll give you a basic beyond basic example of how this works. Let’s say I’m filming a feature, and I’m doing this in Atlanta. Once having wrapped on production and hiring local companies, filming in local locations, creating local work – I can then get a 30% tax rebate on all the money I spent there. This doesn’t mean I get a lovely nice pay check in the mail, this means is a deduction off my taxes in Georgia. Except, news alert, I either don’t pay taxes there or my taxes don’t add up to nearly that amount. In that case, I’d very simply broker it off. For example, let’s say this feature film means I spend $100k in Atlanta. I would then get $30k back on the 30% rebate. I then broker that amount off to someone who pays $30k or more in taxes, selling it at something like $28k. Meaning I get a chunk of my money back (hello marketing budget!), and that taxpayer gets to save $2k on their next taxes. If you’re not set on locations yet, then totally look into this option – and totally speak to an accountant first!
This is definitely one I’ve used to get me out of a pickle. Crowdfunding, if done right, can not only be a great way to procure that final chunk of funding, but it’s also a really great way to spread word about your production and get those initial fans hooked. I will however say this: Crowdfunding is not easy. It’s not as simple as, throwing up a video, writing a little “something something”, tossing out a few incentives, hitting publish and then waiting for the $$$ to roll in. It is so much more complicated and complex. As filmmakers, you should know the saying “If I make it, they will come” is completely untrue. The same applies to Crowdfunding. So do your homework, invest your time wisely and really commit 100%, because if done right, Crowdfunding can save your bacon.
Those are my top tips for slicing that budget down quickly. There are obviously many other ways and hey, no production is the same, so what’s worked for me in the past, won’t necessarily mean it’ll work for me again. So trust your own judgement, trust your creative vision and understand that if you have to delay production, it’s not a failure, it actually just smart business.
Now go get filmmakers!