Do You Budget For Life Expenses During Pre-Production?

Remember back in the day when indie filmmakers was mortgaging their homes, maxing out credit cards and borrowing money from every person they’d met in life just to get films made? Yeah, that’s not cool anymore, especially to producers. So what’s a director to do?

In today’s “5 Steps to Jumpstart Your Film’s Pre-Production” from Film Independent, indie line producer Angela Sostre gives some insider advice.

One tip that immediately stood out to me:

5) Save up money to survive
“You want to be able to pay the bills for three months while you’re focusing on the project. This amount is typically around $20,000-$25,000.” Strive to live frugally and never use the film’s budget for personal items. Keep the two budgets separate and avoid crossover.

I’ve noticed more crowdfunding campaigns are including pre-production costs as part of their budgets. Is this the new direction we’re headed? I admit I’ve never thought about how filmmakers might survive financially prior to stepping on set because most of the stories I hear focus on those who have struggled.

My gut says don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself. Sure, you know rates for rolls of film and hard drives, but what about the price of taking off work to location scout or hold auditions?

If you are currently in pre-production on a project, stop everything and make a proper budget for your own living expenses during this stage. Address all the costs now and save yourself an eviction notice on the first day of shooting. Even take an hour to research grants specifically for assisting filmmakers with pre-production or ask around on Facebook/Twitter/your film friends.

How do you deal with personal expenses prior to making a film?

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