Screenwriting

Writing on a Budget

budget your script

Photo by Xlibber

It’s easy to get lost in the world of your story, weaving tales of intrigue, romance, action and adventure through the lives of your characters. But as engaging as you would like that world to be, the reality of tighter budgets, fewer shooting days, smaller crews and cheaper equipment force producers to look at cheaper scripts. As a writer, it’s important to learn the balance between the story and the cost of producing it.

One of the biggest strengths you can have as a writer is to learn how to attach a price tag to each scene.  Here are some pointers when writing on a budget:

  • Car scenes can be expensive – Building car rigs, or renting a process trailer to tow the hero car around is expensive, so whenever possible, write scenes that take place in a stationary car.
  • Avoid night exteriors – Contrary to what you may expect, shooting at night requires a lot of light, generators and crew. A forest at night is dark, and it’s impossible to get an image, even under a full moon, so massive 18,000 watt HMI lights are positioned hundreds of feet away to simulate moonlight, while the areas of the forest in which the action takes place must also be specifically lit so the cinematographer can properly expose the actors. When in doubt, write exterior scenes for daytime.
  • Special effects take time – Even though you may have access to the best make-up effects artist from Stan Winston Studios, or a top ILM visual effects supervisor, know that on-set effects take time… lots of time. And on set, time costs money, so be aware that some producers may cut effects heavy sequences to accommodate the budget.

All in all, producers are always looking for the next script to produce.  And almost as important as the quality of the story is the price tag that comes with the script. Writing for the producer can greatly increase the chances that your script will sell.zorb ball canada

Excerpted from Filmmaking by Jason Tomaric © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights Reserved.

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