There’s a hell and heaven difference between budgeting your home’s expense and a film’s expense. Your family may consist of four members. You know your average monthly expense, and you base your budget on that figure. But a film’s budget changes from one project to another. A simple studio-based movie will have an entirely different budget than a superhero movie with tons of VFX, background scores, and action sequences. That’s why it becomes a difficult job for an executive producer to manage a film’s budget. 

Matthew Signer says, “There are so many factors that go into the budgeting of movies. Film budgets can be hundreds of pages long breaking down each expense line by line.  It’s incredibly complicated and the line producers who do that work are very talented.  Having a great line producer on your film can be a saving grace.  It can save you millions.”

Matt’s budgeting philosophy

Matt thinks you have to trust your line producer when figuring out a budget.  “Of the many decisions a line producer has to make, one big one is whether it’s best to shoot on location or on a stage.  There are so many factors that go into that.  Will the higher transportation costs involved with bringing trailers for all the equipment outweigh the cost of building all the sets?  Creatively, will the filmmaker have an easier time on a stage or on location?  These are all questions to research and consider when budgeting a film.”

The main challenge of budgeting for location is you have to consider how many technicians will travel, the number of days you will shoot in that location, where will everyone stay, what they should eat, how they will travel to the shooting location, and a contingency fund for emergency expenses. Studio shoots and equipment hire expenses are more or less easy to budget.”

Matt’s team works with experienced line producers who are experts at finding out the approximate costs of shooting a film. They come up with an estimate and provide the budget to Matt and his team. His team then checks and approves the budget.   But his job doesn’t end there. 

Making the movie

Matt’s job then consists of overseeing the process of making the film.  During production, his input is less creative than in other times during the film.  Matt says, “I believe that if you have hired the right talent, then the production of the film should be more hands off.  Of course, it’s important I make sure the film is coming in on time and on budget because I am certainly responsible for that.”  

Matt advises new EPs to continue expanding their network with producers, production houses, directors, agents, and actors to make it big in this industry.

Topics #Matthew Signer