And will they be willing to stay with the film
What will you do if your lead actors have "had enough" and walk on
your film? Although
are things you can do
it is obviously something you want to avoid.
Which comes first, casting or budget? A debatable point. If you've
got the money do you have the cast? If you've got the cast can you really
do this? Casting is an individual problem germane to every film. I
stress more strongly the need to cast your film with actors you know
are perfect for the parts, and do not proceed with the film under any
unless you're thrilled with your cast, you'll only wish you had
you see it in the editing room.
hard to do, not so
hard to start. In
whatever town you are in you must find the local paper for
contact the local theaters and agents and let them know you are casting
film. With or without pay, what parts, what genders, what ages
most importantly, when will the first day of shooting be. You
be surprised how many responses you get, they may not be what you want,
you may have to cast from LA or NYC, but you will get many earnest
that will want to work on your film. You might also want to try
internet, contacting agents and breakdown services by email across the
but make it clear about the money, and if you are paying or not.
many filmmakers do is
divide the deluge
of photo's and resume's into 3 stacks; Right type and experience: Wrong
but interesting: Hopeless.
the resume's and see
what kind of experience,
stage or film, the actors you're considering have had. A stage
with no camera experience might be tough for a low budget production,
don't count them out, very often it is a natural progression.
your actors 'sides' to
read a day or more
ahead of the reading, give them time to prepare and give you the best
got. 'Sides' is a theater term from Shakespearean era named
the writers, in order that their plays could not be stolen, very often
gave their actors their dialogue, so they only had one side of a scene.
Naturally you don't want to do that, but pick an appropriate
so you can see what they've got in terms of the character.
them any direction
they ask for, but don't
offer any, this gives you a chance to see if they come to a part with
- call back the
actors you would
like to read again, give them as much direction as they want, and, I
recording the reading on videotape. You might be surprised how
an actor comes across on screen. Ask your actor if he would like
improvise something about the part and see what they come up with.
try to stick to 'type', just look for a good actor. I've had
blow my socks off that were just not right for the part, and I couldn't
to get them in my film.
now it's cast, can you
really do this?
Your first step in answering that question is "exactly how much money
I have?" Not how much you think will come in, and if Bob comes through
or that darn genius grant should come through by... How much money and
do you have to spend, now?
Don't ever rely on anyone else to help you with financing, don't
believe anyone will ever come through with money to help you, what you
is your budget and that's it. People, investors, friends, all the
on have nothing invested in your film like you do, and life for them
as rapidly as yours does. When an investors check clears the bank and
actually spent the money, then it's part of your budget, not before.
best intentions will not pay the lab that's holding your negative
you can't pay the processing fee because cousin Bob's tractor conked
and he had to buy a new one "sorry I didn't call." Even though most
labs will work with you if you've established a relationship, you have
assume; THE LAB DOES NOT CARE.
you've amassed your
else comes, comes, but you know what you have, on paper. Your next step
to figure out how much this will cost, and the first way to do that is
break down your script. A script breakdown is exactly what it sounds
each scene is broken down into all the elements that will go into it.
though you will probably be stealing all your locations, and using
happens to be on the wall as set decoration, you must break down your
in all the elements to find out what you will have to pay for, or will
to find for free, and when it has to be where at what time.
A common way to do this for
high end scheduling programs is to get a number of colored pencils,
a key on the first page that tells you exactly what each color is for,
go through the entire script, scene by scene, and highlight each one of
elements in the appropriate color.
for each scene,
everything that you will
need to complete the scene must be part of
breakdown. For example:
EXT. DESERT - DAY
Standing in the bleak
sun , Bob
looks up and sees vultures
circling overhead. Hearing a sound
, he turns
as suddenly a team
of actors from babewatch drive
by in a 62 Volkswagen with flat
tires. A MAN approaches
behind, pulls an enormous
gun from his waistband and just as Bob is about to speak, pulls the trigger and.....
With the exception of
you will need to bring everything to that location, including actors
babewatch, man, crew, Volkswagen, flat tires, and find a desert
that suits your shooting arrangements. You'll be lucky to get vultures
but you won't have to worry about it on the day of the shoot, it's
that could be a separate shot without sound and no actors. You have to
this and plan for it, but mostly, at this stage, how much will it cost?
also wise after you've made a complete breakdown to allow a page for
scene, with all it's elements, bind it and keep it with you, or at
somewhere on the set.
celtx.com, check out this free
software, this is a great chance for you to have script writing and
breakdown software that works really well, however, there is no
budgeting software that has been integtrated into the software.
you've got this enormous
list of stuff to acquire for your film. Go through it carefully and
what is absolutely necessary, what you can get for free, and what you
get rid of that's extraneous to the script, story or character. Once
have it pared down as far as you think you possibly can, up pops
do you intend the
final destination of
your film? It makes an enormous difference in the amount of money you
finish. Most distributors will not look at unfinished films
days, and the likelihood of getting finishing funds from an
or a distributor is not good, nor should you plan on it. If you intend
film to be seen on the screen, not on tape, you should now start making
budget, from the screen out, all the way to buying your first roll of
You know you want your film to be on the screen, an A/B answer print
X per foot at the lab, your script is 120 pages long and you expect it
be about 2 hours in length finished, that's 12,000 feet of film (35mm -
16mm) at X per foot for the answer print, plus X per foot for the
track, plus X per foot for wastage and lab work, plus X per foot for
sound mix, plus X for cutting the negative, plus X per foot for the
print/transfer to video, plus cost of editing, plus X per foot to
the film, plus X per foot to buy the film at a shooting ratio of X,
cost of audio tape stock, plus camera, sound, equipment rental, plus
etc. either rental/buy, plus whatever transportation costs, plus food
actors and crew - now do you see why a break down is so important?
FOR WHAT YOU CAN PLAN
may be able to
eliminate a lot of things
as your production moves forward, but you have to plan for the things
you can plan for, like processing, gas, prints-the essentials
getting your film finished to where you would like it to be seen. I
planning for at least a 1st answer print (a 1st answer print is
first exposure and color-corrected print back from the cut negative, a
does this in the lab, scene by scene on rewinds), when you get it to
point where you might want people to see it, film festivals and markets
not interested in your good intentions, they need to see reels of film
their projectors, not your Avid output. Showing your film in the best
is important, plan for it, which means budget for it. It's not
to get post production financing, but it is improbable considering the
of films being produced these days.
So, how's the budget now? Look a lot more
than you thought?
You've just begun. Now you know the listed prices for everything, and
based your budget around them and discovered you don't have the money.
you do anything else I suggest you evaluate your script and your budget
the harsh light of day. If you've written a script that demands so much
and locations, and travel and "insert reason here" it couldn't possibly
done for the amount of money you have, DON'T DO IT. Get real,
a guerrilla filmmaker with next to nothing you have to know that your
can't include travel to Colorado for that shot, or even across town,
of course you can or have it for free. The money you have is your
for everything. Maybe you need to write a script with all this in mind
you can shoot, then start from scratch again. I can't stress that
enough, if your budget is so far away from what you have, DON'T
now, your budget is too
big but it's in
sight, not so far off you can't see the end, but still too far away to
Now what? Now you pick up the phone and become a producer: ask for
It's that simple, and that complicated. Being a good producer is not an
job, you must ask business and labor for things they don't want to give
but you must
to finish your
film. How do I choose a lab? How do I get a crew? How much crew do I
What about Cameras? Non-linear or flatbed? ..........etc.