Hello Everyone, I finally got a professional Nollywood Producer to update our most read post (nollywood budgets). With this post, Isioma Osaje has done a great job in helping you think about how to plan with the money you have and most importantly, she’s created a free template you can use for your next project. Just input the figures and every other thing will update. Many thanks to Isioma for agreeing to do this for the culture. So here goes:
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Everything You’re About To Read Is Based On My Personal & Professional Experience. I Am Not The Owner Of Nollywood.
While a film or television budget is information that is a google search away, I believe there is some value in sharing a Nollywood perspective on the financial planning that goes into making films or tv shows. I will try to make this as painless as I can, but money is serious business so…caveat.
There are certain Principles I think every filmmaker should keep in mind when budgeting their projects;
- The Script – This is the biggest indication of how much a project will cost. It is important that you work off a script when you budget, because it’s elements like cast size, locations, production value that determine the Naira and Kobo of your budget. Of course, with experience most Producers can guess-estimate what a project might cause at the development stage, but until you have a shooting script in your hands, it’s best not to be locked in.
- Time – Time costs money. If you want people on your project for 1 month it will cost more than having them for a week. Tailor your expectations accordingly
- Cash Not In Hand Does Not Exist – Ideally you should have 100% of your budget funded before you go into Principal Photography, anything else is playing it fast and loose. It may end well, but it could end badly.
- Relationship Currency – Films & TV shows in Nollywood can be made for any amount, it depends on your ambitions and the goodwill you can summon, to reduce your cash spend. Everything is a function of money but sometimes value can be traded in lieu of cash. In a nutshell, be careful not to spread yourself too thin or make promises that you cannot keep, more importantly people have bills to pay, so please pay when you can.
The Producer & The Budget
The Producer draws up the budget; because this person has access to all the information relating to the project, so they have the best/widest scope. A Line Producer or experienced Production Manager can also draw up the budget, but the Lead Producer will have to approve and input on Above The Line items (which may be above their pay grade).
Use A Professional Budget Template
As I hinted earlier, Hollywood standard templates exist for budgeting and they are very detailed. Planning is more thorough if your template is extremely detailed. To the best of my knowledge these templates are in Microsoft Excel format, so knowing your way around Excel is important. A budget is essentially small numbers that add up to bigger numbers. Another great thing about these templates is that they come with formulas inputted, so you don’t need to do basic sums or multiplications manually.
Now that you’re armed with a template, you need to break down your script. This simply means extracting all the elements in all the scenes, so you know exactly what you need (people & gear & others) to make all your script go from paper to picture and for how many days, so you can assign costs them.
A budget is divided into Above The Line, Below The Line, Marketing/Publicity/Legal & Contingency (Extra cash tucked away, because you will need it) .
- Above The Line are your Producer, Writer, Director, Cast (Actor Fees, Casting – Auditions & Rehearsal) costs.
- Below The Line are Office costs (Script Printing, Internet, Data) Crew Fees, Equipment, Locations, Picture Vehicles, Costuming, Production Design (Props, Set Dressing), Welfare (Accommodation & Feeding), Transportation, DIT, BTS, Post Production (Picture & Sound Editing), Music Licensing etc. Pretty much everything you will spend from Pre Production to Production to Post Production
- Marketing/Publicity/Legal must be included in your budget from the start. Don’t fall into the trap of not accounting for these items. When you make a film, if you do not advertise it, no one will know it exists and therefore, no money will be made. As for Legal, everyone you do business with must have a contract (Cast, Crew) and as you go into Distribution, there are a lot of contracts and documents that will be sent your way. You need a Lawyer.
- Contingency is extremely crucial, because filmmaking is a human endeavor it is never 100% perfect. It is recommended that you have at least 15% of your total budget put away for emergencies. You will NEED IT. If the stars are kind to you, you may not use it all up.
The Big Picture
While you pay attention to the Line Items in a budget, remember that the general idea is to not go above the total budget. So if costuming goes slightly above budget, try to save costs elsewhere to make sure that things add up in general.
This is crucial, once you’ve finished drafting your budget, it is your job as a Producer to watch your Line items daily and make sure you are staying within your budget. It sucks to run out of money and be unable to finish a film or Tv show, but it will suck even more if this is because you didn’t watch your line items. PLEASE WATCH YOUR LINE ITEMS.
If you’ve made it up to this point, you’re a Rockstar, and you get a Prize – A Standard Budget Template!
Let’s assume you want to make an ambitious Nollywood film, which you will shoot for 14 days and intend to use the top tier Cast & Crew, with above board production values, and you want to spend a tidy sum on marketing & publicity to give your film an edge, this template gives you a general idea of where the Nairas and Kobos might go.
PLEASE NOTE: Fees vary wildly in Nollywood. It mostly depends on relationships and the level of talent you want. For instance; more experienced crew will always cost more than folks just starting out, as for Cast; the A Listers cost more.
Overall make your film according to the business model that works for you.
Isioma is a film and television producer. Her producer credits include Something Wicked (2017), My Wife & I (2017), New Money (2018), Castle & Castle (2018), Up North (2018), The Set Up (2019) and Your Excellency (2019). She is also the Founder of Agency 106; a boutique firm which provides Talent Management and Agency services for practitioners in the Nigerian Film industry.
Her working experience spans nine years with stints in writing, music journalism, radio broadcasting and public relations. Isioma holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery degree. You can reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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