In my Producing 1 class, we learned the basics of film production by theoretically producing a short script assigned to us by the professor.
Our first assignment was to find a location for less than $250. For this assignment, I teamed up with Davina Ombatai, who scouted out our location-a friend's apartment- and took pictures of every room. I used her pictures to craft a Location Scout report complete with a map, basic directions, and information regarding nearby hospitals and parking.
Though we had been spending class time in the computer lab learning Movie Magic budgeting, the university shut down due to COVID-19 left many students without access to the software. As a result, each student needed to complete their final budgeting assignments on Google Sheets.
For the assignment, each student generated two budgets for the same script. One was a $3,500 student film, and the other was a $6,500 film done without university equipment or student crew working free of charge. We were given $500 of wiggle room to come in over and under budget.
To generate my budgets, I broke down each scene by identifying and cataloging all the important elements. I researched the cost of each of these items in addition to union and non-union rates for cast and crew.
For me, the most difficult part of creating a practical budget was making sure that nothing went unaccounted for. Every plastic plate on the set was coming out of the production account. I struggled, especially on the non-student budget, on how to balance reasonable salaries with production expenses that served the story.
Once I had a basic draft, I reviewed the budget over and over, searching for places where I could trim expenses. In the end, my student budget came in at $3,579. My non-student budget, the assignment that had been keeping me up at night, came in at $6,481-$19 under the estimated budget.