Keys to Budgeting for a Video Production

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How much will a production cost? This is the million dollar question when planning a video production. (no pun intended, well maybe a little) There are many different numbers and quotes that can come from a single project. How do you know what those numbers should be? Let me step you through the process of forming a budget and to know if you have all your ducks in a row before the check is written.

Agencies, production companies and department heads all need to be on the same page not only with the creative side, but also with the money involved. Most productions start when the creative team has that amazing idea, fleshed out most details, and then comes the critical part of calculating a number to make the vision come to life. There are 3 essential steps to form and manage the budget.

First: The Scope

Always start with the expectations of the video production and that will let you gauge what the scope of the project entails. You should talk through the creative vision and discuss it to set goals based on those expectations. These goals may include:

  • Production quality
  • Video length
  • Production format
  • Final distribution details
  • Production/Post schedules
  • Deliverables timeline These upfront goals will set a standard so that there are no surprises down the line once this big wheel starts to turn. This is a very important step to get off on the right foot. Once the goals are set, the scope will be more apparent and the budget will start to take form. Each production will come with its own unique challenges. It is very important to identify those challenges, research solutions, and determine what those solutions will cost. Anything from elaborate locations, complicated equipment, to specialty props; it’s important to get the bigger numbers nailed down before you get to the next step and locked in.

Second: Find the Right Team

This is critical to any production, well any business for that matter. With any production one single person cannot wear all the hats- that’s why having a competent team is super important. Whether it is the right producer, production manager, location scout, director of photography, even production assistants can help make a successful team that will bring the production to life. This team will also help keep the project within the confines of the budget. A substantial portion of the budget will be labor. Once the budget has been written don’t forget to add in the contingency and padding. Production is a fickle machine so it’s necessary to have the right plan and problem-solvers for when kinks arise.

Third: Manage the Budget

Anyone can throw a budget number at a production, but how do you keep the budget from running away and keeping it in check? Throughout the life of a production, communication from all the key players is extremely important to coming up with the established budget number at the end. There are always going to be hurdles along the way, but with the proper research and contingency you can keep the budget under control. Communication with current running numbers always helps keep everyone on the same page.

With these three components a production budget can be successfully made, executed, and managed. When looking to have successful video production , it’s always important to be able to say “we are right on budget”,or even better “we came in under budget”, when delivering the final product.

Happy filming and enjoy the journey.

Paul Martell Moyle