Film Production: 5 Ways to save money

I always say that it’s hard to be too critical of a movie, because all movies are a miracle in that they got made at all. Movie production is such a tricky business, from beginning to end, to actually complete the process is truly amazing. Many movie projects fail because they simply ran out of money. One way successful producers pull off a complete movie is they get very good at saving money. Here are five ideas on areas where you can cut movie production costs.

Photo: stobor

1. Have your crew members serve in several different positions. It’s not unusual when the producer and the director are the same person. What about the script supervisor acting as the casting director? Or your gaffers help build sets? The combinations can be endless with your creativity. Just make sure you don’t over load anyone with too much to do or you are only setting them and your production up for failure. What extra positions your crew take on, be sure you give them the proper, separate credits for their extra roles.

2. Find cheap to no cost locations. Take a close look at your script and figure out where you can get your scene locations for the least cost possible. At times it may even be necessary to rewrite a scene to accommodate a freely available location. Be aware that to pass legal issues, in most places the owner of the place, not a leaser, will need to sign for permission to use that location. So, if you know a restaurant owner or have a friend who owns their home, these are places to start looking for your locations. What ever locations you use, paid or free, don’t leave the place a mess or tear up the property.


3. Free musical scores can be obtained with a little advance searching. I recommend looking for your free musical score as soon as the script is finished or acquired. This is not very hard to do. There are many musical artists who would love to say their work is part of a movie musical score. These publicity starved artists are happy to hand you the rights to use their music for a movie credit. If you happen to be musically talented, you can also create your own movie score.

4. Arrange free and discounted cast and crew food and craft services. Free and discounted meals to serve on your production follow pretty much along the same lines as free music. Restaurant owners love to trade publicity, so you can make a deal with a movie credit. Sometimes, the owner or manager will want a part in the movie. Be careful with that kind of deal, because you want to keep the acting integrity of your movie, but maybe you can give away a “featured extra” role.


5. Be creative when casting name actors to save a bunch of money. Use one marginally known actor in your main character role. Another great idea is to use one big name actor in a small, cameo role. I know a producer who gets a popular actor for just a few hours for a small scene. He usually has to shoot the scene at the actor’s location choice, but he saves a huge amount of money. At the same time, he gains the added benefit of being able to advertise that actor is in his movie. Smart and creative moves like that one, will get your movie production ahead of the game and keep more cash in your budget at the same time.


Where most movie productions fail to reach completion is by not having enough money for post production costs. Post is more expensive than production and sadly, not many film makers really realize this. A mistaken notion is that making the movie is everything. A smart producer will keep post production’s high cost in mind. There are very few places in post production where you can trade or get any deals. Cash is king in post production world. Make sure you have that money in hand and you will avoid having your movie production buried in the uncompleted movie graveyard. Do everything they can to save those precious dollars during production.

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