Start at the beginning:
As many in the industry will tell you, it all starts with the script. The very best actors can't save a poorly written story. On the other hand, an excellent story will still please an audience with actors who are not 'Oscar' material. Even though you're not making a movie, you are telling a story and sharing your message.
The script, or a solid outline of the script, is the 'blueprint' for budget construction. A budget assembled with reliable facts concerning all stages of production will be based on the number of shooting days, locations, format, script length and talent costs, if any. The questions listed below are critical points to consider when planning your video or film project.
The type of camera, video media, and production equipment will all affect your total budget. If you don't need to broadcast on TV, it's highly recommended to use a 'prosumer' quality HD video camera. For in-house use or corporate use, our clients are extremely pleased with the professional look this economical format can produce. If a more 'broadcast' look is required, we can offer the right camera for the job. All HD cameras do not produce the same quality for a number of reasons. Sensor size and lens quality being the most important factor.
A non-professional actor will get the job done and may cost less on paper. But, those savings could disappear in the additional takes and added shooting time. A professional actor will often save you time and money. Acting for the camera is a difficult craft and very different from stage acting. Plus, he or she may be recognized by your audience and could make your video more effective.
The best way to save time and money in a production is to reduce the number of production days. Careful selection of your locations can help reduce costs. Noise level, such as a nearby construction crew can disrupt interviews. Make sure your locations will serve many purposes, giving a different look or backdrop. Keep your locations as close together as possible since moving a crew from one distant location to another eats up a workday.
Most of your interviews will be with people who have never been on camera. Make it a conversation and not simply firing a lot of questions they haven't considered before. Don't ambush them. Take them aside well before the interview, get to know them if you haven't met before. Take them through the topics you would like to discuss. Do this as they're sitting in their interview chair or position, so they can become used to the 'set', with all the lights, camera and activity.
There are times when a more direct approach will produce a more candid and documentary feel to the interview. It's about capturing those moments that can make all the difference.
Once your budget lists every conceivable expense, from fuel to drinks and food for the crew, another 10% to 15% should be added for contingencies. Unscheduled delays can result from bad weather, equipment failures or an actor becoming ill.
Contingencies are an essential part of the overall budget, and should not be left out with the hope of keeping that final figure down. Some production companies will inflate their budgets to make sure this extra cushion is there. I recommend that you have this contingency cost put aside, to be used by the filmmaker only if any contingency arises. If there are no contingencies... that money goes back into your pocket.
We're sure there's a lot more questions from those of you who are considering producing a video. Keep in mind that every production is a prototype, and so each has it's own variables. If you would like to see how an actual script and budget work, please contact Fortuneteller Films for a free consultaion.
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