Excel Formula To Get The State From City And State Documentary Budgeting Basics: Three Easy Steps For Creating Your Documentary Budget

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Documentary Budgeting Basics: Three Easy Steps For Creating Your Documentary Budget

Creating a documentary budget is a great way to think through every aspect of your film. Although you may be eager to start shooting your documentary right away, creating a budget can often be an enlightening experience, revealing factors that might otherwise slip under the radar. A budget forces you to think through every detail and can save you from the pain of unexpected surprises down the road.

In addition to being a great tool for a filmmaker, a documentary budget is essential if you hope to raise money for your film. A budget is usually an essential item along with your documentary proposal when pitching your documentary idea to potential funders or supporters. A documentary budget provides an important snapshot of how you plan to shoot your film, the locations where the films will be shot, how many people will be involved in the project, what type of equipment you will be using and your distribution plan, among other things.

While your documentary proposal describes the story and vision for how your documentary will look on screen, the budget is your nuts and bolts behind the scenes plan.

Here are the three primary steps to creating a documentary budget:

  1. Research – This is the most important aspect of creating your budget. Without research, you have a blank slate. This is where you need to make phone calls, search the internet and ask for advice. Things like what kind of insurance (if any) you’ll need, how much it will cost to rent a van in the city where you’ll be shooting, how much your cameraman will charge for three days of work, what the costs will be. When renting a lighting kit, what does an animation guy charge, do you need to pay copyright fees for stock footage, etc.
  2. Build your budget – It is highly recommended that you use a spreadsheet program like Excel or get your hands on a documentary budget template. You can certainly jot down your budget items using a plain text document, but that’s not a professional (or efficient) way to budget. Having a spreadsheet with formulas allows you to make changes to individual items and it automatically updates the total of the entire budget. As you conduct your research, begin inputting various budget items, including crew salaries, production equipment rentals, stock footage fees, administrative costs, etc. Input everything you can think of!
  3. Refine your budget – Once you create your budget, you will definitely be surprised by the final total cost. At this point, you may need to refine your budget to come up with a realistic final cost. Ask yourself how much money do you realistically believe you can raise for your project? If you think you can raise $10,000 and your budget comes in at $250,000, then you’ll need to make some tough decisions. Is there anything in your budget that isn’t absolutely necessary? Or is there a way to donate some items?

Creating your documentary budget is not a one-time event. The budget will need to be constantly updated and revised as you go.

One item you want to include in your budget is a contingency (usually 8-10% of your total budget). This is especially helpful if you’re new to budgeting. A contingency provides a buffer if items in your budget end up costing more than you thought.

In summary, if you’re pitching your documentary idea to potential funders and trying to raise money for your film, you’ll likely need a detailed budget. It is very important that you create a budget that is realistic and realistic. Since many of your funders will be business-minded people, they will know if you fudge your numbers. So do your research and put together the best budget you can. As a filmmaker, you’re probably eager to start shooting and make your movie, but taking the time to think about every detail of your budget will pay off in the end.

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