find articles by Author

Production Tips: Budgeting the stuff that comes later…


AshleighBioWhen you are making a budget for any project of any size there are a lot of expenses or potential expenses to think about. Even the smallest of productions can have some major expenses. Some are fairly obvious, like paying the crew, renting a camera, paying for a location, etc. Then there are less obvious costs, like the ones that come after you wrap production.

A lot of times, it is hard to think about any costs besides the ones you have to pay to just get through the filming portion of a project. It is important to think about all the expenditures that will hit you. I am not going to get into the costs of post-production today, but those can add up as well depending on what you shoot (Post SFX, Sound mixing, Color Correction, Music). I am going to talk to you about some of the costs that come after you have a final product that is ready for distribution.


Alright, you have your amazing short film shot and edited and you’re very proud of it. One way to get it seen is to submit it to festivals. Here is where it gets costly. Most festivals have submission fees, and the closer they are to their final submission deadline, the more expensive it gets to submit. There are a lot of low-cost and free festivals that can be found out there. If you have a well-received film, sometimes other festival programmers will reach out to you ask to have your film screened at their festival, free of cost. That is awesome…but don’t always count on it.

Submission fees vary. I have seen festivals that cost $75 for a short film submission, and close to $150 for features. Now imagine you would like to submit to 10 festivals… yep. Costly. If you have not budgeted for festival submissions, and this is your project, your baby, you are most likely out of pocket for this. A few years ago, we were submitting our short film, Summer of the Zombies, It did really well, we won some awards and were asked to screen at several other festivals. We still paid over $1,000 in submission fees alone.

The submission fees do not just apply to general submissions. I have seen festivals that add an extra fee to be considered for awards. Sometimes you have to pay per award you want to be considered for. Generally, the festivals I see that do this make this a small fee of roughly $10 or so, but it is still a cost to think about.


Most festivals do not have the monies to travel film creators in to attend their festival, unless you are talking about a feature film that has been accepted into one of the big festivals. So, if you are like most of us, you will have to cover your own travel. Maybe they can get you a solid rate at the Hilton, but you are still covering your room, board and travel expenses. But wait, are you bringing the star with you? How about the three stars and the director? Where is this money coming from?

There are other potential festival costs…perhaps this festival is in December in New York, and your California light jacket is not going to cut it. You may have to buy attire to wear. What about screenings? Some festivals give accepted projects 1 or 2 festival passes, but not always. Sometimes you have to pay to see other films. Then there are parties, and mingling… oh the drinks. Drinks, are not always included. Maybe this is not important to you, but it does come with mingling and spreading the word about your film at social events, so it’s something to consider.


So… spreading the word about your project brings me to marketing. As we enter 2015 there are many ways to use the “interwebs” to do your marketing for free…if you have time and the know how. A lot of us don’t have the time to dedicate to promoting our projects online in a manner that will do the project justice. If you are like me…you could use a brush up on the “how to promote” portion. If you don’t have the time and/or the know how to promote, you can hire people to do that. The costs will vary but it might be a place you want to put some money into in my opinion.

What about postcards and posters? If you plan on attending festivals, you should have materials to give to people to spread the word about your project. What about business cards when you meet people? Or t-shirts or any other giveaways that are fun, creative and outside the box? On our latest web series, “Joy Ride”, my amazing Co-Creator Anastasia Washington came up with the idea of creating car air fresheners to give away. Brilliant! Our web series takes place in cars, so it’s a fun, outside the box giveaway…but that’s just it, it’s a giveaway. We make no direct money back by giving them out to people, but we do get a fun way to spread the word about our project. It helps in the long run.


Online fundraising has been around for a few years now. I think it is important to remind creators of the costs of the perks they are giving people. Signed cast photos may not cost a lot, but if you have several physical perks such as t-shirts, mugs, pictures, scripts, posters and so on, you are going to run into some high manufacturing fees. Maybe you have an amazing t-shirt hook up that can print them at a low rate, but what about the shipping? What about shipping supplies? Sometimes you don’t get a great rate unless you order in bulk. Make sure you think about these costs when you start your campaign.


The same thoughts and questions go for wrap gifts as well. Yeah, maybe your cast and crew is only 15 people… but having 15 sweatshirts made as wrap gifts will not be cheap.

There are a ton of “extra” costs that happen once the project has completed production. It would serve you well to think about what these costs could be while you are in pre-production. Make sure to reserve some money in your budget for these extra costs.

Ashleigh Nichols

About Ashleigh Nichols

Ashleigh Nichols resides in Los Angeles with her husband, Eddie, and their Chihuahua mix, Nova. Together they work on their own projects as a wife-husband directing/producing/writing team. Through Owlet Pictures, they created the web series Coffee Shop Squatters, and the award winning short film Summer of the Zombies. Ashleigh is also working on a dramatic feature and creating a new web series, set to shoot later this year. While not working on her own projects, Ashleigh is currently an in house Production Manager at Ampersand Media. Before going in house she Production Managed several shows/Pilots for Comedy Central, HBO Go and Vh1, some of these include: The Jeselnik Offensive, The Burn, The Ben Show, Brody Stevens: Enjoy It! and Parental Discretion S2. Ashleigh is also honored to have Co-Produced the indie film The Historian, currently touring on the festival circuit.