Issue 132 – Breaking (Down) the Budget

Breaking (Down) the Budget

Low-budget can mean anything from a few hundred grand to small change and some pocket-lint. But no matter the size of your lump sum, what’s the smartest way to spend your money in low-budget filmmaking? Conor McMahon talked to directors Brian O’Toole, Paul Ward, Eoin Macken and himself…

Budgets are strange things. From the few films I’ve produced, I’ve always found them difficult and frustrating to put together. It’s impossible to tell how much most things will cost. How do you know how much footage will be shot or how much food will be eaten? And without accurate figures, how can you ever make a definite budget? I’ve also found it odd that on bigger films a budget is put together when they don’t even know exactly how it’s going to be shot, or how the director plans on staging certain things. But in the end, a budget is something you need to get things moving, to convince people it’s possible so you can secure finance.

The other thing about budgets is that a lot of people won’t talk about them. They don’t want people to know how much their film cost. And it’s understandable. If you’ve made a film for 100,000 and you say it cost 500,000, chances are you’ll probably be able to sell it for more on the market. It’s often only at the very lower end of the spectrum that people will proudly declare that their film cost a week’s wages, and use that as a selling point. The zombie film Colin that was shot earlier in the year was apparently made for £40. Another example would be of course El mariachi, which used the fact that it only cost $7,000 as a selling point.

In the age of digital filmmaking it’s easier than ever to pick up a camera and go out a shoot a film. But how much money do you need to do it? The answer is often whatever you have and whatever you can get…

The full article is printed in Film Ireland 132.

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