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Martin, Engineer
Category: Entertainment
Satisfied Customers: 4922
Experience:  Fan of Cinema and Video Games
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What is a reasonable low cost budget to shoot a documentary

Resolved Question:

What is a reasonable low cost budget to shoot a documentary over the course of 3 1/2- 4 months, where cast only recieve small stipends and the camera and editing software is owned by the producers, and most of the editing will be done in-house? Can you give me a breakdown of neccessary expenses and equipment?
Submitted: 7 years ago.
Category: Entertainment
Expert:  Martin replied 7 years ago.
HelloCustomer welcome to Just Answer.

It depend on the kind of documentary you do. For example, does it require lot of interview (something where equipment failure and late "actors" and technician can cause loss time and increased transport cost), special effects and music (something that can make the cost climb fast), information research (the biggest cost by far).

It also depend on how much money you want to do with the documentary. You need to make enough free cash to pay all the debt the sooner possible.

You need to plan a budget 6 time the anticipated cost so that is cover all the upcoming badluck and problems.

Editing cost nothing if you do that yourself and use numerical tools. Music can cost nothing if you use tracks under creative commons license.

So, really quickly. If we take a crew of 3 for 4 month at about $15/hour it give around $15,000 (no need to x that by 6 if the uncertainty is already accounted in the 4 months. All additional cost depend on the plan you elaborated. If you can get crew for free, it would reduce a lot the cost.
Customer: replied 7 years ago.
It will be more of a reality documentary following the life of an artist trying to break into an industry, which will require taping 3-5 days out of the week, and taping will be split amongst a crew and in house, with in house handling about 65% of the taping at no charge
Expert:  Martin replied 7 years ago.
Sorry about the delay, something in the database prevented us to answer back for most of the day.

If you have such support, then this must also include any kind of insurance. But "following" mean lot of transportation. I still think you could do that with $15,000, perhaps $12,000. It always depend on how much personnel you require (i think 2 cameraman and 1 sound technician is enough for most documentary, or at least for most scenes).

On the transport, you need a car large enough, or a truck, and some kind of backup plan in case that one break. If it break and you told the crew to be there, they will want to be paid and this will eat the budget fast. Another thing you might need is lot of planning BEFORE going on location. If you can't follow the artist for some reasons in some place, you might have to use that dead time wisely. Keep some shot to be took in such down time (those that don't require too much logistic).

The equipment could be as simple as 2 cameras, a boom mic, some flexible lighting equipment and polarizer/filter.

I don't count a marketing budget in here, that is quite cheap now in the internet age.
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