Budgeting Feature Films

May 11, 2024 An Eastern AD/UPM Council Location Manager Committee Event

On May 11, DGA members seeking ways to demystify the budgeting process were the recipients of valuable information during the online event, Budgeting Feature Films. Presented by the Eastern AD/UPM Council’s Member Education Committee, the two-part workshop was guided by UPM Sirad Balducci and offered insights into script breakdown, scheduling and fundamental budgeting basics.

The first session, The Production Plan, Scheduling, Budget Set Up & Above-the-Line, featured an exploration of how to effectively collaborate with Directors, Producers and Department Heads and impart strategies to align a movie’s production plan with the creative vision for the project. During the session Balducci discussed the importance of understanding the film’s story.  Per her experience, considering the story while budgeting allows those tasked with budgeting the film to prioritize the spending on key moments and allow them to look for places where they can make small tweaks and save costs, all while preserving the heart of the story and achieving the Director’s vision.

Following a brief break, Balducci led the participants through the second session, Below-the-Line, Post & General Budgeting, where she delved into the mechanics of budgeting software, such as the Movie Magic Budgeting trial software which was provided to the participants prior to the start of the class. She also discussed how to accomplish the accounting needs for the unique provisions of various unions, and how to budget a film with state tax incentives in mind.

Although the workshop was geared toward independent feature films, the concepts discussed can also apply to other genres and budget tiers as well. In addition to the Movie Magic Budgeting trial software, a sample script and a sample pre-coded budget were distributed to give the participants a simulated ‘hands-on’ experience with the budgeting process. Each session was followed by a brief Q&A period where Balducci answered questions from the online audience.

A DGA member since 2009, Balducci’s production management credits include features such as Joel D. Moore’s Hide & Seek and Youth in Oregon, Anthony Mandler’s Monster, Rightor Doyle’s Down Low, Steve Moskovic’s Goldberg - P.I. and Michael Cuesta Jr.’s Roadie; and the mini-series Girl Haunts Boy. She also directed the short film, Generation Lockdown.

See video from this event in the gallery below.

About the Eastern AD/UPM Council Member Education Committee

The Eastern AD/UPM Council is the elected body that represent the Assistant Director and Unit Production Manager members of the Guild who work in film, television, commercials and new media. The Member Education is currently co-chaired by Michael Reichman with members: Daniela Barbosa, Ellen Athena Catsikeas, Derrick Doose, Mary Lew-Goucher, Meryl Jaffe, Les McDonough, Kathleen McGill, John Mirch, Matthew O’Shea, Alison Rosa, Beth Schebece, Michael L. Walker, Thomas Whelan, Kate Ransome Wilcox and Robin Winter.

Pictures & Video
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