SHOW ME THE MONEY: BUDGETING AN INDIE FILM
First I just want to apologize for using that Jerry Maguire quote in the title. I know better, but I did it anyway.
Indiewire recently put together a list of 10 vital tips any aspiring filmmaker needs to keep in mind when embarking on the exciting and terrifying road of independent filmmaking. They're tips seem simple, but they're also crucial aspects of development that amateur filmmakers may not even think to consider, and they serve as a great starting point for people with interesting projects in mind.
The first tip, and in my opinion one of the most crucial, is picking a script that works within the parameters of the project you're able to make. It seems obvious, but it's such a huge help for building the foundation of a financially conscious and stable production. Another vital tip is investing in good sound – according to indie filmmaker Jennifer Westin, bad sound is a big indicator of a low-budget film. Compromising another aspect of your shoot for the ability to have solid sound, while it might seem inconsequential at the time, may be the difference in creating a film that feels higher budget.
Finally, make sure you budget your money to make it all the way through production, post, marketing, and festival applications. According to Westin, it won't mean much if you have a final product you love but you don't have any money leftover to get it out to audiences.
The article includes a lot of other links to help low-budget, first-time filmmakers. The great thing about the Indiewire articles is that a lot of them are written by indie directors themselves, like Cheap Thrills's E.L. Katz or As It Is In Heaven's Joshua Overbay. The articles tend to talk about films that are working on a scale bigger than you're average first-time filmmaker, but they still provide a lot of god suggestions for how to map out the needs of an independent production. One of the biggest things each of these directors stress is the quality of the script, and although the registration is over Raindance Film Festival has a lot of advice for strong scriptwriting on their "Write and Sell the Hot Script" class description.