GADZOOK FILMS Producing independent film in Seattle, Los Angeles and beyond.


Waking Up

So how about some updates, yeah? The budget is nearly finished and we've made some headway on the business plan for "Plight of the Living Dead". We're in mild talks with some producers to help co-produce the movie - I say mild because most of these talks are mainly getting to know you talks and "Oh, this sounds interesting... keep me in the loop," type things. Talking to some sales agents (and of course, they need some attachments and a business plan before they can even think about committing) and also have a couple lines out at some of the more independent studios like First Look and Anchor Bay. What does all this mean? Bupkis. I haven't special conversations with Hollywood mucky-mucks, no secret "ins". I've followed most of the basic channels that practically anyone could follow. Bottom line is, it's not hard to get HEARD in Hollywood. The hard part is actually being LISTENED to.

While I was doing research for the business plan I came across an interesting formula for determining an accurate budget for your film. You take five or so recent (~5 years) films that are similar in size and scope and story to your picture. Tally their gross revenue. Average the totals between the five and divide by four - this is your "perfect," conservative even, budget point. The point where you will likely see a revenue stream if you made your movie for that amount and assuming you received the same amount of distribution options as those other films. So, as an example, let's take five imaginary film grosses for 5 imaginary romantic comedies (because EVERYONE loves romantic comedies, right?):

Lovin' and Squeezin' - $5,000,000
When Gary Met His Hand - $14,000,000
Two Friends, Two Passions - $7,500,000
Lover's Quarrel - $8,250,000
Urinetown (okay, this is really a musical, but I needed a fifth film!) - $2,500,000

Total Gross: $37,250,000
Average Gross: $7,450,000
Your Ideal Budget: $1,862,500

And really, anything under $2M is usually jackpot territory. If you can find a story that can support a budget of $2-5M, in a popular genre (and they keep changing every year!), you should take the time to do it right. Of course, if you can make that movie for $500k - more power to you and ask for an upfront fee because the studio will have a veritable goldmine. I'm of the mind that it's difficult to make any feature for under $250k - especially if you intend on finding a buyer for it. Sure you can cut crew and cast your friends, not pay anyone, get things for free - but the meat and potatoes is in post production and deliverables. This is where your movie comes together. And if you lowered your budget in the front end to save a few bucks, you may just find yourself shit-canned in post with a difficult to sell picture. Is that to say you couldn't sell it? No, but your workload will increase exponentially. I suppose there's some formula I could come up with that states basically the budget amount and your personal workload as producer affect each other at inverse rates. The higher the budget, the less work you need to do. And vice versa.

Posted by Dom

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