I kept on top of the budget until about two weeks before we started filming and after that it was 'all receipts go in the box.' So it wasn't until the holding pattern from my computer being replaced that I got around to bringing the budget back into some kind of order.


Right now we’re running about $59,668.64 all in. Minus the $17,000 or so that I spent on cameras and lenses and lights and everything else to actually *make the movie*, and that brings us down to about $42,668.64, which is sorta-semi the cost of the production. That’s about $9K more than we budgeted for, but with all the permit shenanigans and hidden costs and just plain ol’ overages, it’s not as bad as I expected.

Except I didn’t expect this much.

I’d kept the budget separated for a long time, equipment costs in one spreadsheet and production costs in another. Basically, I’d never actually merged the two spreadsheets together until this week. It’s an eye opener, that’s for sure. Add not having a production accountant to the never ending list of Shit That Slips Through™. And we still don’t have the movie-in-the-movie sequences shot, or Trevor & Steve’s scenes, or even begun considering what pick ups we'll need. Just finishing out the shooting and editing and paying for music is probably going to push us around $75,000 dollars. Ah, who am I kidding? This movie is going to end up costing around $100,000 in the end. And that still doesn’t account for not paying Erika, Pedro, or me, much less our living expenses which have drained my bank account another $50K *at least*. Sorting the seemingly endless pile of thermal receipts in The Box is a wake up call that there is a fine line between basement trash and micro-budget accounting. Man, I was really being a bush league noob two years ago when I thought this film was going to run under $25K all in. HA HA HA HA HA...






Look, there was no way this movie was ever going to be *ultra-cheap*. We made decisions early on that committed us to Spending Money. Namely, that everyone on the crew got paid (even if it was minimum wage), that we didn't eat shit for lunch (especially on minimum wage), and we carried insurance, worker's comp, and permits for the major locations. We tried to be responsible and all of that was accounted for in the initial budget. But once you start filming, man, the costs just start picking up speed like a snowball rolling downhill in
Hell. The only way to control that is to *control everything you can*, especially location shoots. In micro-budget land you can't. It's impossible. Locations aren't ready when you get there and you lose two hours. So and so shows up and suddenly wants some grease under the table before he'll open the doors, you lose half a day and another $300. Cast or crew are delayed in traffic or get lost on the way and you kiss off another hour. And every one of those lost hours are dogpiling overhead costs until your contingency cel in Google Sheets is ominously formatted as (fx=SUM( [sinisterchuckle.mp3]( ).

So you roll with the punches. You come back later. You rip up your shot list. But mostly you reach into your pocket. And that's how a studio movie protects themselves. They're paying that $3,000 location fee so they can Lock It Up and own the place for the days' shoot. Not waste time begging the staff to turn off their radio so you can shoot dialog, or find out your best take is ruined because a bystander is standing in front of the camera and looking directly into the lens (If that was you and you're reading this,
fuck you. You live in LA; you know better, you fucking troglodyte.). Locations killed us. Every fucking time. Every fucking place. There's a reason most micro-budget features take place in a bottle: Minimum locations equal minimum crew movement equals maximum control. But then, I was always bad at math.

I should have heeded my wife when we started budgeting last year and she said I needed to cut back on locations (Don't tell her that). So I ended up playing the accounting version of
We'll Fix It In Post and now look where we're at. Wondering if we can finish the movie with the funds we have left with the curve ball of our lead actor being a $2,477 round trip ticket away. On a big budget film you'd hit up the studio and they'd hit up the bank to expand the loan. Happens all the time. On our little film, well... you're thinking what I'm thinking, right?

Yard sale.

© Michael Thibault 2015, All Rights Reserved. May Not Be Printed, Published, Posted, Transferred, Or Duplicated Without Permission.