It is common knowledge that some films made with a limited budget have gone on to become commercial successes. However, acquiring funding for a movie can be challenging, and a savvy producer will always be looking for new methods to save costs. One of the most expensive aspects of making a movie is paying the cast and crew. A movie is the product of a large number of skilled people working together to create something extraordinary through the highly specialized and imaginative vocations that they hold. Despite this, there are ways to reduce the price of payroll in the overall budget for your film. In this piece, we will discuss seven of them in more detail. Let’s dive in.
Get Talent for Less
If it weren’t for the performers, a movie would be nothing. However, the remuneration of on-screen talent, including the clever, the beautiful, and the mercurial, can vary widely from one another. Let’s assume that you are not shelling out millions of dollars to secure an A-list actor or actress for your low-budget film. What other money-saving options do you have?
Reduce the Number of Participants
This piece of advice applies equally well to directors and screenwriters as it does to producers. When compared to a narrative in which payroll is required to pay SAG-minimum day rates for roles like Bank Teller #2 and Police Officer #3, a story with fewer characters is frequently not only more beautiful but also more cost-effective. It requires creative thinking, but it’s not impossible. It is important to not be afraid of cutting portions. Is it necessary to have a different officer at every scene? Are you supposed to treat your closest friend and your love interest the same way? These are the kinds of questions that can not only help you save money but also make your narrative more compelling. What does it say about your protagonist if their closest friend and potential romantic interest are the same people?
When your narrative calls for human actors to play roles that require only a few lines of dialogue – or even for larger parts – it may be worthwhile to go beyond the realm of professional actors. In this wondrous world, there are a lot of people that exude presence and charisma and have the ability to inject emotional authenticity into imaginary settings. Discover them. Perform a test on them. If it is required, you should train them. Include them in the cast of your movie.
Now, keep in mind that this approach isn’t applicable in all situations. It calls for casting decisions to be made with great care and expert direction. Films that are grounded in reality gain more from this than other types. But what about when it succeeds? It achieves miraculous results. It is important to keep in mind that Yalitza Aparicio Martnez, who had never appeared in a film before, was cast as the main character in Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma. Her work ultimately earned her a nomination for an Academy Award in the category of Best Actress. You might be able to turn your amateur into a professional if the part is right.
Strike a Bargain
In our field, several people operate somewhere on the spectrum between “amateur” and “professional.” Attending auditions while also maintaining two-day jobs. While simultaneously making material on YouTube or TikTok, I’m writing spec scripts. Watching for the right moment to make a break for it. Recognize the value of hard work.
It is possible that as a result of this, a talented actor will be willing to accept a lower salary in some instances. Examine the possibility of striking a deal with them that involves the exchange of other services that you can supply and that will be beneficial to their professional development.
You may make an offer to shoot high-quality headshots using the high-end film cameras that you have already invested in purchasing. Put them in contact with this management or that agency. You may know someone who knows someone who can help an unproduced script find its way into the desk of the proper producer. The skill of finding a solution to make everyone involved in a dispute at least a little bit pleased is known as negotiation. Investigate non-obvious ways to provide people with what they require in addition to the apparent ones.
Recruiting Staff in a Productive Manner
Major motion picture projects frequently employ more than 500 crew people. You, on the other hand, undoubtedly do not have the funds necessary for something like that. That’s fine, you don’t have to do that at all. You will be able to stretch your limited film budget further if you restrict hiring to only the necessary roles, such as the cinematographer, lighting director, sound director, assistant director, and possibly a few more people. Concentrate on the necessary things that assist you. Everything else is considered optional.
Find and hire people with a variety of skills
If you spend enough time in the realm of independent film, you will see that the majority of people dabble in a variety of different areas. People who write screenplays but also perform stand-up comedy; wannabe filmmakers who make their income as editors; production assistants who are proficient in literally every role that exists on a film set.
If you can find employees who are dedicated to your project and possess several skills, you may be able to convince them to work on multiple tasks for a reduced rate. Many people are willing to negotiate lower pay in exchange for the guarantee of a particular amount of work. If your director already has a job that allows them to pay their rent, then there isn’t any need to look for another editor, is there?
It’s possible that at one point in your life, you studied film. Do you recall how you felt when you arrived on the set of a movie for the very first time?
Students are typically eager to gain experience and may be prepared to do the job for a lower wage. Make contact with film schools and online student forums in the film industry. If you can teach them something, not only will they learn something, but you will also gain from their excitement.
However, be sure you don’t take advantage of this in any way. It does not follow that anyone ought to go above and above simply because they are willing to do so. You are not only helping to save money, but also fostering the growth of filmmaking as an art form. Consider the seriousness of this obligation!
Limit and Group Together Locales
When it comes to movies, time is money. The more the number of days you film, the higher your total cost. And there aren’t many things that take up as much time as the setting. This indicates that the production cost of your film will decrease proportionately to the number of locations used. If there are fewer locations, there will be fewer shooting days, but those days will be utilized more effectively, and there will be less time and money spent on traveling.
If you bundle your sites, which means you choose places to shoot at that are physically adjacent to one another, you can save money not only on transportation costs but also on the costs of staff. According to YLO, an established production company in Cape Town, ” When working with a tight budget, the first natural place to explore is for sites where you can film for little to no cost, if not for free. Find locations inside your city to cut costs and save money on gas by avoiding long journeys.” Some locations are interchangeable with those of others. You have no clue how many different Star Trek episodes were able to squeeze different stories out of the identical cabin and hallway sets.
Consider Using Contract Workers Rather Than Full-time Employees
In this day and age, a significant amount of work has shifted from permanent positions to what is being referred to as the “gig economy.” This is true in the world of the film just as much as it is elsewhere. Freelancers, as opposed to full-time employees, are responsible for a growing proportion of the work that is completed each year. The ethical value of this shift is currently the subject of intense discussion. However, engaging freelancers or workers on a gig basis rather than a full-time team is without a shadow of a doubt the more cost-effective option.
Even though determining day rates for freelancers might be difficult, it may be more cost-effective to use freelancers than it is to hire full-time employees. It is not always straightforward with all payroll services. It’s not always easy to tell how something should be classified, and if you get it wrong, it could end up costing you a lot of money in fines or repairs.
Take Advantage of Programs That Offer Film Incentives
Tax breaks are a fantastic way to cut costs, and an increasing number of governments are making them available to residents. You may be familiar with the benefits offered by South Africa, but this country is not the only one. Think about where the action takes place in your script, and what other states could stand in if necessary!
These kinds of incentives can go a long way toward saving costs within your payroll budget, in addition to securing the benefits of a local team for your business. As was mentioned previously, you should never be scared to hire someone from the community!
You should be able to start cutting your payroll expenses with the help of these recommendations. We strongly suggest that you investigate the payroll rules of South Africa as well as the film industry to have an understanding of the things that you can and cannot do to reduce costs.