Posted by: michellemuldoon | November 29, 2010

Budget? What Budget?

When you start writing, people tell you to let your imagination loose; the story needs to be truly unique for it to catch someone’s eye.  They say, it isn’t the writer’s roll to think about budget, and if a producer asks you the approximate budget, then it’s alright not to know. After all, you’re a writer, not a line producer.

On the surface, this seems like a great idea, but when you really think about it, is it great advice?  When I read my morning news briefs, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a notice that a production company has bought a tentpole production from a brand new writer. I know I’m not the all-knowing seer on this, but it seems to me, that the only writers who sell big budget franchises are the writers with a track record.

Does this mean you shouldn’t write one? Heck, no. But  I do think you need to be cognizant of the sale potential.  When I started writing I would say that writing a script was like playing Nintendo… I like to drive, fly, shoot, and bomb. I now have a couple of those scripts in my portfolio.  What I’m trying to do at this point in my career is balance them with some smaller pieces; stories that won’t take a big budget to make, and might appeal to smaller independent production companies.

In these tough economic times, I believe you need to be flexible. The hunt for a sale is enhanced by the bait you use. I think people who fish can relate to that. You need to use the right lure to bring the fish in, and every fish has its own particular lure.

When I produce my own short films, I think about how many days it would take to shoot, how many locations I would need, and if there’s a requirement for anything out of the ordinary, or unique, that would add to the budget. Since the funding agent for my short films is Paisley Media, which more often than not means Casa Michelle, the little details have become the big details.

Regardless of all the other lessons that filming shorts provides, an understanding of exactly what everything costs, just might end up being the biggest bargain of them all.

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