How a Micro-Budget Documentary is Produced
The glamorous world of film-making gets somewhat less glamorous.
When people think of the film-making process, most think of the way dramatic feature films are made, with a big crew and a celebrity cast and a splashy cinema release. But films, especially documentary films, are often far more humble in scope and use a leaner film-making process. This article outlines common elements in the production process for documentary films made on a small budget. (We’re not talking David Attenborough here.)
We outline four factors which can influence documentary film production costs.
A question we often get asked is ‘I want to make a simple 5 minute film about X. How much would that cost?’
Our answer? ‘It depends’.
For organisational and online video production, a common costing rule of thumb is often said to be ‘$1000 for every finished minute of video’. However, we find this costing rule to be wrong more often than it is right, possibly because the rule seems to have been around for aeons.
For documentary film-making at the lowest-budget level, ‘$1000 per finished minute’ is the cheapest starting point for costing. We recommend using $2000 – $4000 per finished minute as a beginning point or ball park. And you should expect that even a ‘simple film’ may cost more. Why? There are many elements which come into play when costing a film. In this article we detail four factors which can influence cost, and provide some tips on how to reduce costs if your budget is really pushed.
Image attribution: Svilen.milev