Creating the Budget
The estimated number of days in a shooting schedule and all of the individuals and equipment that will be needed for those days provides much of the information needed for creating a film's budget. The rest of the information involves compiling the requirements of every other aspect of the production, including preproduction, production, and postproduction costs.
Budget Top Sheet
In your budget information, every single item that has a price needs to be itemized and accounted for. All of this information is crucial if you hope to stay on track throughout the course of filming.
Top sheets have two primary divisions,
Below-the-line costs cover virtually every other item a production will require. Crew costs, set production and decorating, equipment rentals, location fees, props, office space, and telephone and fax lines are examples of below-the-line costs.
Despite the inherently tedious nature of budgeting, understanding every aspect of your budget is the only way to ensure that finances for the production are going to be spent in the most appropriate and effective manner. Major studios devote entire departments to budgeting, and many unit production managers have made successful careers out of preparing efficient budgets for independent productions.
When your budget is carefully itemized, the total amount will tell you if the production can be made with the funds you have available. If the budget is equal to or less than those funds, the schedule can be tightened and production can go into high gear.
If available funds are less than the budget calls for, it's time to make crucial production decisions. There are only two basic choices in this case: Find more money for the production or adjust the screenplay so that costs are lowered to match available funding.