Week 10: Scheduling and Budgeting 2

posted Apr 25, 2012, 6:07 PM by Priya Nayar   [ updated Apr 25, 2012, 6:21 PM ]
This week, we begin the process of budgeting.our projects. In creating a budget, we need to be aware of all the assumptions that we have made regarding our project -- style, scale, scope, etc. We also need to review our schedules, because the time we have allocated in the schedule is an essential element in budget calculations -- for all stages of the production.

In this week's lecture notes, you'll find, of course, an explanation of budgeting with specific examples, working budget spreadsheets, some information about funding and fund-raising, and some references you can use to estimate pay scales. It is a lot of information, and I'm sure you will have questions. The Budgeting forum is the place for those, as well as the place to post your budget when it is done. Check Assignments for the due date, but, rest assured, I'm not asking you to tackle this complex and intimidating aspect of production in a couple of days.

Lecture Notes: 
  • The lecture notes for this week are largely based on the content of this page, but may be useful nonetheless. They are attached at the top of this screen. A great deal more detail will be found below.
  • What is a budget?
    • A budget is everyone’s reality check. When the budget says “ YES, YOU CAN AFFORD TO DO THAT,” dozens or sometimes hundreds of people are counting on its accuracy. And when the budget tells the director ‘NO, YOU CAN NOT DO THAT” the show’s creator has to trust you enough to believe it.
    • Think of a budget as a series of containers that hold all the specific costs that go into your film. The largest container is known as The Grand Total. In street talk, you’re making a five million dollar movie. That’s the Grand Total.
    • That container is made of a many smaller containers. Those are called Categories and might be named “Producers” or “Stars.” We’ve started to break things down, but we’re still talking about the big strokes. Then those categories get divided into smaller containers called Accounts.
      • Accounts included under “Stars” would list each of the roles and any additional perks that come with hiring stars. 
      • Accounts for “Production Staff” would include the production manager, location scout, production office coordinator and other staff.
      • Accounts are divided into smaller containers called Details. The details for the role of Mary would indicate how many days she works, how many round-trip tickets she’ll need, her per diem on location and any other related costs. The list of every cost involved is a list of Details….

  • Specific Information is needed prior to starting a budget
    • Here is a specific, but not comprehensive, listing of some of the key items that should be identified before real budgeting can begin.
      • Talent and Rights:
      • Estate or Honorarium fees
      • Literary Rights fees
      • Feature Film Clips (# and average min -- separate out US (pre 1960/post 1960) and foreign)
      • Network TV (# and average min -- separate out US and foreign)
      • Archival Footage -- total minutes
      • Archival Photos -- # stills
      • Music -- # of Masters, # Publishers, score, etc.
      • Narrator (name or day rate)
    • Production Staff
      • Producer
      • Director -- # shoot days
      • Writer – how long is the show?
      • Consultants (NOT Advisors) -- #/fees
      • Advisors -- #/fees
      • AP, Office PA #/fees
    • Production
      • Is this HD? Film? 3D? Digital Video? What format?
      • Is there a separate crew for US/foreign co-producer (if applicable)? need staff and rates
      • Are you doing recreations? need number of recreations, 
      • number of actors, etc. 
      • design and staging --
      • makeup? costumes? etc
      • number of locations and possible location fees
    • Post-Production
      • Where do you plan on posting -- network or company facilities, post-production house?
      • How long and what facilities will be needed?
      • Release format -- digital intermediate, digital, other?
      • Motion control -- # hours
      • CGI and effects?
      • Graphics -- titles, open, animation, etc.
    • Travel/Other
      • need # trips and to where
      • how many folks traveling each trip
      • will you be taking equip with you?

  • Budget Templates (The highlighted titles are Excel templates that you will find in the Budget Templates folder in Resources.
    • The Simple Budget shows a stripped down budget that was built for doing animation. If you work with this, you will need to eliminate most of the lines, adding in their place the appropriate categories you need for your project. To figure out what those categories are or might be, you’ll find it helpful to look at the other templates. Value of this choice is that it is the most intuitive and simple.
    • The Producer’s Craft Budget is pretty thorough. Its categories cover cost items that are common for episodic or dramatic television production. The budget references a chart of accounts that places tasks into categories, used in coding bills and tracking actual expenses. This template may be too comprehensive for smaller productions or documentaries.
    • The AICP Budget has been developed by the Association of Independent Commercial Producers to provide a single, comprehensive budgeting system for bidding any kind of TV commercial: whether shot in film or video; whether using actors or animals; whether filled with stunts or special effects; shot on a set or on location; involving graphics or animation ---- you get the idea. This budget is definitely overkill for many of your projects, unless, of course, you’re planning a major TV spot. But reviewing its line items (and its pre-production and wrap break-outs) will help you think of costs that might otherwise go unbudgeted. Visit www.NYPG.com for the latest version of this bid form.
    • The Video Budget Template is a variation of the AICP form that can be used to create budget estimates for relatively complex video productions. It is a little more complete on the post-production end than the AICP form.
    • The BioMedia Multimedia Project Budget is a multi-page budget spreadsheet that was created to make it easier to budget multimedia and interactive projects that include design and programming as well as video and audio production. This is an adaptation of a budget form that was available on the web. I have made some changes that reflect the way BioMedia works. You can do the same.
    • And finally, the BioMedia DOCU-LOCATION Budget Template is a spreadsheet suitable for smaller productions and documentaries. This budget has been “ crash-tested” for a number of years. Some of the daily rates need to be adjusted since they are usually changed each time a budget is developed. This is a flexible format that allows for adjustment, adding or subtracting line items.
  • Budgeting Software
    • In this class you will have access to copies of the Excel spreadsheets mentioned above  that have been adapted for media (mostly video) budgeting.
    • As a producer, you should develop at least a basic proficiency in Excel: enough to know how to build a simple formula that multiplies two or three numbers together and puts the sum in a designated cell, how to add a column of numbers into a cell designated for a sub-total, and how to pull a gather a bunch of sub-totals into a summary. (Look over the formula bar in the provided templates for an idea of how all this works.)
    • Movie Magic (also EP Budgeting), one of the most popular specialized budgeting programs, is used by many production companies because it links budgeting with scheduling, accounting, and an integrated payroll system. Studio and network budget templates for Movie Magic are available. A demo version of the program can be downloaded from http://www.entertainmentpartners.com/index.asp.
    • Another popular series of production software in common use is Showbiz Software, which also includes payroll and accounting modules for an integrated production management system.  Again, templates are available for networks and studios. Demos can be downloaded fromhttp://www.showbizsolutions.com/__DEMOS/misc/Showbiz_Demos.htm.
    • The latest contract provisions can be found in the annually updated Showbiz Labor Guide, which provides a breakdown of union and guild contracts with rates and working conditions for every major production center including Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Florida, Chicago, and Canada. It is available in either printed or digital form, which integrates directly with the Showbiz series.
    • Similar information for commercials and industrials can be found in the Media Services Commercial Guide. This includes information on contracts between the AICP and IATSE, other unions, DGA, Local 399 LA Teamsters Agreements, LA Studio Map Zone, union pay scale rates, etc. It is a comprehensive guide published by a payroll services company and you can use it as a reference when developing budgets. I have included a copy of this in Resources. It is a bit out of date but can still be used as a guide.
    • Many production companies, networks, and studios have their own special systems and “chart-of-accounts”. The latter is the numbering system which is used to mark the individual buckets of costs.
    • Automated AICP (commercial estimated) bid forms are also available from many sources.  A demo from one of the suppliers is available at http://www.powerbid.com/. These folks have been around since 1986; I remember reviewing an MS-DOS version of this program sometime in the distant past.
  • Budget Topography
    • The notes that follow are keyed to three specially marked up sections taken from three of the budget examples described above.
    • These color keyed budgets are attached to a separate document that you will find below these notes.
    • Open each budget and then follow the notes that show off its various features.
    • Example “A” Simple Budget
      • The first example budget is one taken from animation. This choice will show you at once that every budget you work with must be modified to reflect the nature of the project. We are looking at the elements of structure here, not the specifics of the budget itself.
      • Page Header Information (highlighted in yellow)
        • At top of the budget, always cite:
        • production title
        • producer’s name (contact info: email, phone)
        • budget date (because they change)
        • project genre/description
        • production format
        • delivery format
        • show length
        • shoot days
      • Sometimes you will want or be asked to provide other key budget information. This might include:
        • production manager
        • director
        • fringe assumptions
        • overtime assumptions
        • unions
        • location(s)
        • production format
        • editing format 
      • Key dates are often reviewed from the attached/related schedule.
        • start date
        • script approval
        • casting approvals
        • shoot dates
        • edit start date
        • rough cut
        • fine cut
        • audio record
        • lock pix/color correct
        • mix tracks
        • delivery
    • Vertical Axis (highlighted in blue)
      • There 2 essential types of information:
        • The line within the budget. This can be a person (like a Director), a service (set construction), a facility (studio or equipment rental), or an “expendable” 
        • The categories into which costs are grouped.
        • Budgets are flexible things. If you come upon a line that doesn’� t exist in any of the templates, simply put it into your budget where it seems to best fit. Or make up a whole new category. For instance, all the costs in setting up and building out a web site to accompany a production.
    • Horizontal Axis (highlighted in green)
      • There are four essential bits of information that go across the top of budget,:
        • units = days, hours, film magazines, tape cassettes, SD cards, etc.
        • number (#) = how many of the units are specified in budget
        • rate = the cost of the units
        • total for the particular budget “line”
        • The cells of the spread sheet hold the elements that are multiplied. They can appear in any order. Some budgets provide additional items for building formulas. For instance there could be an “x” column that signifies whether there are multiples – for instance, the line might show a PA cost as so many days at such at such a rate times x number of PA’s. These three numbers equal the sum for that line.
    • Doing the Math (highlighted in tan)
      • You can get along in Excel (for simple budgeting) knowing only these two formulas that instruct Excel how to multiply costs on a given line and add costs in a given column.
        • Line total: enter =sum(x*y) into the “total” cell where x cell address with the number of units and y is the cell address with the rate per unit. You can copy the formula and paste it into empty cells in the following lines. Note the multiplication symbol in-between.
        • Category subtotal: enter =sum(t:b) into the subtotal cell where t is the cell address at the top of the sub column and b is cell address at the bottom of the column being tallied. Note the colon in between
    • Notes & Annotations: (highlighted in turquoise)
      • I’d like to make the strongest possible recommendation that you add and use columns to the right of each budget line to contain notes related to the information or assumptions that you have used.
      • Note there is also, in Excel, a way to put a small marker in the corner of a cell and to attach to this a note that does not print out, but which one can access as a roll-over. Use Insert > Caption to use this nifty feature.
      • It is soooooo easy to make records, and such info is soooooo easy to forget if you don’t
      • There is no need to ever show this column to the client or funder – it is simply for your internal use only.
  • Example “B” Producer’s Craft Budget
    • Header Info (highlighted in purple)
      • geared to series
      • staffers to be identified
      • note cost per episode
      • Key Assumptions (highlighted in green)
      • anticipates the basic summary info from production plan and schedule.
    • Budget Summary (highlighted in yellow)
      • usually on front page
      • put below the “header” info (aka “assumption” info)
      • all the major categories are listed, with a cell that references the particular subtitles. Nice that when you change a subtitle, the budget will automatically update the summary -- assuming that you enter the cell address, not an actual dollars total.
    • Above & Below the Line (highlighted in tan)
      • Above-the-line
        • ideas, property, talent
      • Below-the-line
        • monies spent in production, per se.
        • production
        • post production
        • other
    • Chart of Accounts – Vertical Axis (highlighted in pink)
      • important system for “coding’ bills and payments. Different companies may have a different set of category numbers, which related to their accounting systems. This budget has a useful set that indicate discrete categories.
    • Horizontal Axis (highlighted in green):
      • §  “X” – number of times category e.g. For PA’s
      • amount / units / X / rate / subtotal/ tax-fringe / total 6 / days / 4 / 50 (per day) / subtotal/ 17%
    • Fringe Benefits (highlighted in turquoise)
      • a production (by federal law) must pay payroll taxes on all “ employees”, but not “freelancers”. Use the rate of 22% for staffers. This included obligatory payments the employer must make by law (FICA, FUI, SUI, Workman’s Comp) plus a figure computed to cover paid holidays, health benefits, sick and maternity leave.
      • Freelancers do not receive such benefits plus they are usually expected to pay their own taxes of all kinds, with the producer simply giving them a W-4 form at the end of the year. There are federal and state rules that define what is “freelance” and what is “staff”. The entertainment industries are notorious for overlooking such legislated definitions.
      • If your production is a signatory to any of the unions or guilds, then there will be additional costs tacked onto the fees earned by the respective members. WGA, DGA, SAG all are 13%. AFTRA at 12%. But these numbers are probably out of date.
      • Staff fringes estimated at 22%
      • Freelance fringes estimated at 17%
      • FICA (Federal Social Security percentage based on income with cap)
      • FUI (Federal Unemployment percentage based on income with cap)
      • SUI ( State Unemployment percentage based on income with cap)
      • Workman’s Compensation (percentage based on salary and job classification)
      • WGA – 14.5%
      • DGA – 14%
      • SAG & AFTRA 14.1%
      • Agency Fees (for talent) – 10%
    • Administrative Expenses / Indirect Costs (highlighted in purple)
      • How do you include fixed costs and indirect costs such as
        • office space
        • office furnishings
        • stationery, paper
        • duplication services or copier
        • phones and internet
        • build-out costs
        • maintenance
        • hiring expenses
        • press and promotion
        • conferences & seminars
        • tax accountants
    • Within your budget you should try to set up a category called Administrative Expenses to cover some of these expenses. But inevitably, the producer will have costs – including the cost of development – that no funder will want to pay. Hence one tries other tactics in getting paid all or some of these fuzzy but real costs.
      • Choices include making a category called “indirect” costs. In public TV this is 22%
      • Adding (usually at the end of the budget or in the summary) a line for “producer fee” or "production fee." This is common in commercial budgeting.
      • Adding a “profit line” (also called “margin”).
      •  Setting up the budget so it will be “cost plus”. Thus you simply add a percentage to all the lines in the budget. Say 12%.
    • If you own your own equipment, then you can list in the budget the fair market value of that equipment. However it is unethical to claim more than the cost of the gear itself. For instance, if the camera you are using cost $3,000 and you were charging $300/day to the production, you would not put in for 25 days, thus making a tidy profit. But if you had already paid for the camera on a previous production not funded by your project’s current funder, you would be okay in charging the $300/day – assuming it didn’t cost more than outright purchase of the camera.
  • Example “C” AICP Budget
    • This budget was used for a video game based on the feature film, Top Gun. The production company was Colossal Pictures, a very creative animation and design shop that is no longer in operation. The company had a very bright administrator, Lawrence Wilkinson, who oversaw finances and added to the standard AICP a number of elements that allowed producers and management to determine what kind of profit each project would yield, assuming that production went smoothly. The idea was not to gouge clients by making too much on a project yet, at the same time, to ensure there was enough “ margin” in each project to cover the company’s overhead and to fund development of new projects and better delivery systems.
    • Key Assumptions (highlighted in blue)
      • note agency and client info
      • note identification of key talent
      • note studio assumptions
    • “Actuals” – Achieved Costs (highlighted in green)
      • very important for daily tracking of costs and used for final payment in commercials
      • note difference of “pre-pro/wrap” and “shoot” more accurately “ spent to date’ “anticipated to complete” “estimated actual” “actual”< /li>
    • Annotations (highlighted in blue)
      • note that Colossal had profit margin figured out. Just the right amount on right categories, as I recall, it was 8%.
      • also called “mark-up”
      • example = 8 or 10 hr day
    • Profit / Margin (highlighted in red)
      • This incomplete and partly corrupted addition the AICP form is included as a representation of the care that Colossal Pictures took to ensure it made an appropriate profit on each project.
      • Production Fee, which is the profit for the production company, is a standard part of the commercial budgeting process. It used to be higher, but is now somewhere between 10 and 20% (if you're lucky).
  •  Fudge Factors & Putting-it-on-the-Screen
    • Budgeting cannot ever be 100% accurate. So how does the production community handle the built in uncertainty and flexible required in creative enterprises?
    • Contingency. Years ago, it was possible to add a multiple to cover the stuff that happens and was not or couldn’t be budgeted for. 10% was considered reasonable. But few funders will accept that  today. Which brings us to…
      • “Pad”. So producers must build into their budgets “generous” expectations for some bone-fide costs, knowing that in the course of production, there will be some savings in these categories that can then be applied to areas where there are “overages”. 
      • One common category for pad is travel (maybe you budget more trips than you think you will need, or you budget as official airline rates knowing that you will fly by discount carrier.
      • Another is to include an OT figure for days when you know you won’t need it.
      • And there are many others, limited only by the creativity of the producer (or the gullibility of the funder/client).

  • What is the Value of Your Time, Your Gear, Your Friends & Family?
    • When you are trying to raise money for a production, it is often useful to be able to quantify the dollars and cents value of goods and services which you – ever the thrifty and resourceful producer – have lined up but which cost the production little or nothing.
    • Here are some places where you can justify claims of such imputed value:
      • Your own salary/compensation
        • Don’t expect to recoup for development time
        • Set the rate at a “competitive” level. 
        • Be prepared to cite where a producer gets the pay you are requesting for yourself.
      • Out-of-Pocket expenses
        • Direct expenses during development (meals to travel to Xerox, etc.)
        • Third party payments (for example, purchasing the option to a literary property)
      • Staff
        • What is the difference between what your friends are getting paid and the established rate for such a position in such a project.
        • You cannot charge for unpaid interns.
        • It’s okay to make your parents work for nothing. It is their role in life. But you should pay other family members.
      • Gear
        • Charge for your own gear at established industry rates. Get 3 citations as back-up
  • The need for multiple budgets
    • Producers may find themselves in the position of needing more than one budget for the same production. Here are the most common types….
      • Development costs (keeping track of costs that are accrued before pre-production starts. Can these be recouped? Answer is sometimes. A good reason for having a profit line or production fee.)
      • Out-of-Pocket costs (cash needs if one calls in all possible favors. If you do it yourself, this is what you must shell out. Might want to add up (i) deferred costs and (ii) in-kind contributions)
      • Proof-of-Concept budget (What partial chunk of production will prove the concept to your funders – look of talent, production chops, anything unusual. Often one wants to know what it will take to prove that the concept is a good one. Often funders will pay for this, especially if the project is breaking new ground or breaking in new talent.)
      • Full-Up budget – all production costs at standard industry rates. This is the “value” of what you are developing.
      • Deluxe Budget - top drawer on all categories. Best of everything. Most creative and original of everything. You should do this one because it reminds you how really great the project can be if you go for some extra quality here or there. Your funders are not just looking for the cheapest possible production, they also want the best.
  • Your Funder’s Fiscal SOP (Standard Operating Procedure)
    • Many funders (including networks, foundations, studios, investors) have their own requirements for budgeting. The producer must enquire about such approved and preferred budgeting methods. Items that are often dictated include:
      • fringe benefit rates
      • overtime
      • union jurisdiction
      • travel policies and per diem rates
      • contingency lines
      • “profit” lines or “producer’s fee”
      • talent requirements
      • use of payment services to handle fringe benefits
      • accounting policies
      • keeping of receipts/payment records
      • product placement
  • Financial Management of a Production
    • Having your budget approved is only the beginning of the spending and reportage discipline that is required of producers and for which producers are always ultimately responsible. Here are some of the items that you will learn about over time and as a result of the types of productions you work on.
      • Production Management / Production Accounting
      • Payment Protocols (approvals, check requests, check cutting, timing payments, cash flow projections).
      • Budget Approvals (always have in writing)
      • Petty Cash (policy, request forms, reportage reconciliation)
      • Travel/Entertainment/Vacation/Meals/local Transport 
  • Items not covered in this overview:
    • Unfortunately, this is not an MBA course. There are many books available about production management as well as other items of information and procedure that producer’s are often called upon to learn. In the spirit of disclosure and awareness of how much has not been covered in this section,  please note these areas that may be of concern to a producer:
      • setting up a production company
      • Federal ID numbers and tax rules affecting Production companies
      • State and Local business Licenses
      • Bank Accounts & Financing agreements
      • use of Credit Cards
      • Corporate Taxes
      • Accounting and Accounting Software
      • Accountant Services
      • Guild and Unions Rules
      • purchasing/bidding protocols
      • negotiations
      • cash flow (as opposed to budget)
      • booking production and post-production services
      • completion bonds

  • Resources for Budgeting
    • So, where do you find out about those things? A good recommendation for Budgeting (there are many titles out there) is :Film & Video Budgets; Deke Simon & Michael Wiese, Published by Michael Wiese Productions, Studio City Ca 818-379-8799 mw@mwp.com or www.mwp.com
      • Setting Up a Production Company
      • Pre-Production
      • Line Items (14 pages, followed by annotations)
      • Sample Budgets: $5 Million Feature Film; Documentary – Tape; Digital Feature Film; Digital “No Budget” Feature film; Tape-to-Film blow Up; Industrial Budget; Music Video; Student Film
      • Useful Appendix (including Directories, Publications, Associations, Book sources)
    • A  volume that more broadly covers the financial, management and business dimensions of producing is: This Business of Television: A practical guide to the U.S. and International Television Industries for Producers, Executives, Marketers, Performers, Writers and Entrepreneurs by Howard J. Blumenthal & Oliver R. Goodenough, 1991 & 1998 Billboard Books, an imprint of Watson-Guptill Publications, New York www.watsonguptill.com

  • Some online resources
  • Some additional resources which you will find in the Budgeting folder in Resources
  • Reality Check
    • You will probably not get rich being a producer. I didn't, that's for sure.
    • Well. On second thought, you might. If you develop a break-out hit, and if you have a big equity position in the project, you can get rich. Think Larry David.
    • Realistic and achievable goals are to be able to:
      • provide a reasonably comfortable life for yourself and your family;
      • work with people you like;
      • learn new stuff;
      • do good work (you are proud of it);
      • leave a legacy.


You guessed it, this week's assignment is to develop a budget for your project. Now, we realize that scheduling and budgeting can be a daunting undertaking, especially if you haven't done it before, or are working in an unfamiliar medium. It is also clear that many of you are still working on your schedules, which are a necessary precursor to he budget. Both scheduling and budgeting are iterative processes, which means that you will probably work through a number of versions before settling on one that works. We would prefer that you take your time to carefully consider your options as you work through the multiplicity of choices and moving parts that must be considered in a production schedule and budget. We also encourage you to get in touch with your instructors if you have any questions.

In light of the complexity of this assignment, we are asking you to have a fairly complete budget in two weeks, Week 12 (19 April). This need not be a final budget, but I would like to make sure that you are on your way, since there isn't much time until the end of the semester. Please post your budget in the appropriate discussion forum so that we can review it and provide feedback.

Also, I would like to remind you that you should begin working on the rest of your final project as well. There is no single specific format for this proposal -- you should create a presentation that best represents your project.

As a reminder, the elements of the final project are:

At the conclusion of the semester, you will be expected to turn in a complete production proposal, preferably in electronic form (pdf or Word document). The Production Package for your individual project should include the following:

One Pager: This is a one page document that you can use as a leave-behind after making your pitch to a potential funder, or that you can provide to a potential funder to interest them in learning more about your project. Think of it as a cross between an advertisement and a proposal. As with a proposal, there is no specific format or style for a one-pager, but, at the least it should have the following information:

 Project Title

 Your name, phone, email address, snail mail address

 Length & genre (e.g. a half-hour comedy pilot)

 Premise/Project Description (two short paragraphs at most)

 Tone (sensibility, intent. Here is the place for a comparison to known works = "Sex in the City' meets 'Young Frankenstein' ". Draw parallels to something that is currently on TV or the Internet.)

 Target Audience (Why do you think your project is well suited to the audience.)

 Creative Team (yourself, any other major player on team)

 Talent: (assuming they are big assets in your project)

 Production Plan (very simple: state of pre-production completion, when you'd be ready to shoot, how long the overall production will run.

 At bottom of page: Copyright notice (your name, copyright, 2010)

Proposal: This should be a tightly written, beautifully formatted, professionally presented document of 5 to 7 pages at most. The project title, a logo for the project or your company, your name, and relevant contact information should be on the front page. This should be written as a proposal to a potential buyer or funder, not as an academic paper.

Each proposal is different. There is no definitive format or style – no surprise here. You will need to shape your own proposal form to match the project itself. But, whatever format or style you finally choose; your proposal should have visual appeal. Take some time to design the layout for the document. You may want to consider including a logo for the project (even if just a simple display text for your title), a production company logo, illustrations, charts, photographs, sample frames. Eye candy is not a bad thing. The goal is make your proposal easy to read and memorable. Fair or not, your ability to produce the project may well be judged by the way the proposal is presented.

 Here is a check list of information your proposal should cover (although not necessarily in this order):


 Contact Info (name, address, email, phone)

 Log line

 Description / Executive Summary

 Goals & Rationale (why should this project be done)

 Type and Length of show


 Competitive Landscape

 Creative Team & Key Talent

 Production Plan (very general)

 Next step(s) in production and time frame for execution

 Production platform (DV, HD, IMAX, etc.)

 Shooting style, sets, special needs

 Important rights information including options on third party materials, if appropriate.

 Roll-out, Distribution & Marketing

Production Package: The “production package” includes the final versions of your six “working documents.” These will not necessarily be part of a proposal that you present to potential funding sources, but they indicate your preparedness to move forward, as well as the thoroughness with which you researched and developed your project.

These items are also an important component of the final grade in the course. Please combine into a single document, in the following order:

1. Script: This is your screenplay, treatment, beat outline, storyboards, and/or a combination of elements that represent the most comprehensive and detailed written document you've been able to fashion over the semester. Please include anticipated timings for the different sequences. At the head of the document, please include a note that summarizes how close to a final version you have reached in this pass and what plans you have, if any, for continued writing, revision, or polish. Obviously, for documentaries, the final “script” will not be available at this juncture.

2. Schedule: If possible, design the layout of your schedule so that it can print (or be easily viewed) as a single page. Your timeline based document can be created with software, a spreadsheet application or any other mode, including charts.

The schedule should show the relationship of Pre-Production, Production, and Post-Production phases. Staffing lines at the bottom of the graphic presentation should include all key positions and the time in during which they are working on the project (either paid or “in kind”).

Use the schedule to indicate durations of specific elements of production, for example, the period during which you will be casting. The schedule should also delineate the key assumptions and production parameters you have used to derive your timings. Use days as the scheduling unit during periods when you are shooting and weeks for pre-production and post-production. If possible, find a way to graphically indicate the difference between boxes that show days and boxes that show weeks. You should not overlap the different editing periods: rough cut, fine cut, pix lock, color correct, "sweetening" of audio tracks, audio mix and duplication of tape/hard-drive elements you are obligated to deliver.

3. Creative Team: This is not just a list of people; provide job definitions for the key positions in your production. Be certain to provide your position with its title and the specific responsibilities you will have. Include brief bios for those who are already committed or you would like to attach to the project. Make sure to attach a biography and resume for yourself.

4. Intellectual Property Checklist: You must hand in a listing of all items you will need to "clear" in your production. This should include all title searches, options, music licensing, acquired stills, acquired footage (film or video), writing, appearance & location releases, music cue sheets, etc.

5. Budget(s): Please provide a short explanation (separate from the budgets) of the approach you have taken in developing the budget and whether you are handing in more than one budget. Your statement should include the key assumptions that you used to prepare the budget. This may reiterate some or all of the assumptions you used in developing the schedule, but could also include decisions about how rates were determined, “in-kind” contributions, etc. We welcome budgets that have been prepared using dedicated budgeting software but you may use any spreadsheet template or program you choose.

If you have prepared the budget using one of the Microsoft Excel templates that we have provided, format it for printing with all columns visible within the width of a single page. Of course the number of rows (production lines) will almost certainly require a number of pages.

There should be a summary page which includes subtotals for above-the-line, below-the-line, taxes, fringes, etc. The budget you submit should provide detail for each and every line in the budget.

6. Funding Strategy & Targets: Provide a short summary of your development strategy for the funding of your project. How much will you be able to undertake on your own? Are you “phasing” your project? Who are your stakeholders? What is the schedule for your fundraising efforts?

Try to identify 4 specific targets where you might get production financing. For the two best prospects, develop a profile of what each has done in the past that is similar to your project. Can you find out how much money they have spent on comparable undertakings? Identify for each of the four candidates a list of reasons they are potential stakeholders.

Priya Nayar,
Apr 25, 2012, 6:07 PM
Priya Nayar,
Apr 25, 2012, 6:07 PM
Priya Nayar,
Apr 25, 2012, 6:08 PM