Using a line_item budget template to track your movie costs can be an extremely valuable asset when it comes to creating a successful movie budget. The problem is most people either don't use them, or just assume that using a simple spreadsheet to track expenses is somehow cheating. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, it's one of the simplest ways to keep track of your movie expenditures and it also allows you to quickly find outlays during the process of your movie's development.
It's easy to get caught up in the planning stage of making a movie. That's a good thing, by the way, because it helps you stay on target with your movie budget. But once you start filming, all those other details tend to fall by the wayside. When you're casting the next person for a key role, writing the script, casting the first person to play a pivotal role, and finalizing the details of the crew (including food and housing) you may not have time to focus on your film finances. This is particularly true if you work in a film industry where projects can go months or years over budget. Using a line_item budget template can make sure you're staying on track and that you'll still be able to see your movie through its post_production stages.
One of the key benefits of using a line_item budget template is that they're built around specific project expense categories. This makes it easy to identify which expenses are appropriate relative to which other items you need to track. For example, if you're writing the script and determining the locations you want to shoot on location, you'll want to know which locations you have access to before spending money on anything else. You can do this with a line item for location outlay, as well as for other items like lighting and props.
But the thing about a line_item budget template is that you don't always need to cut every single expenditure. If you find a location you think will be great for your project, but there are other elements that make the setting great, you can leave the location category out and only include the money necessary to cover its set decor. Or, if the location really isn't necessary in the film, you can drop the item and put more funding into the set decor budget. After all, having enough set decor is rarely a premium, and often is only a tiny fraction of the total budget.
In addition, you can tailor each line item in the template to include the amount of money needed to buy costumes and props. While a large movie will obviously require a good deal more money to rent a set or purchase props, you can adjust the budget based on the nature of your project. The same goes for your camera equipment; you can adjust the line_item budget to account for the cost of renting professional equipment.
Even line_item items such as disposable camera lenses can be adjusted to fit your project. Just change the quantity on the item to account for your needs and then adjust the line_item budget to reflect the difference between the price of your disposable camera lens versus the amount you are going to spend to purchase it. It's that easy! It's always best to keep things as tight as possible, so when you're starting to get deep into the project, you are already forced to make compromises.
Of course, no matter how well you know your film subject, sometimes you are simply going to need to improvise. Sometimes your goal is to look completely different than you would in the finished film. When this happens, changing an item from a basic item to one with a very unique design can be a great way to create a mood and set the tone of your film. This is also a reason why you would need to adjust your line item budget accordingly.
The point of creating a budget is to maintain control over your project. You want to be able to look at each item you have and say "I am not going to spend that much". When you have a plan and know how much you are trying to spend, you can cut corners wherever you want. When you create a line_item budget template, you can take advantage of that and ensure your movie is all lined up toward success. Remember to consider your audience and the goal of your project before you ever budget anything.
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