There isn’t a definitive salary cap for film projects, which makes it much harder to figure out the real-world expenses a filmmaker is facing. In my experience, a typical movie-making budget in independent filmmaking in the US is around $8,000 (US). That’s a significant amount of money, but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
As a filmmaker, I’ve worked on a number of films, from a $2 million short for Paramount’s digital media division in 2007 to a small $5 million feature film from independent producers and distributors. But despite the differences in the cost of production, they are all very similar in their ambition and the challenges they face.
How often do filmmakers make a film?
When I first started shooting short films, I thought I’d make maybe a dozen. But I found myself making about 75 or 80 when I started editing my own shorts. That’s pretty consistent, although it varies from film to film — sometimes you make 25, sometimes it’s 50 short films in a year and sometimes you make 120.
How long does it take to make your project?
Once your film is set, the process can take anywhere between four weeks to a month and a half. After all that travel, you don’t really have time to sit down at the editing machine; the film just goes through.
How many different people can be involved in a movie like this?
Usually around eight to twelve people come together, although some movies are bigger and more ambitious, with hundreds of people contributing or co-producing. When the film is in post-production, it’s a lot more like working in the advertising industry — everyone is responsible for their own project, so a lot of the time they’ll work with the director or producer to come up with a rough cut of the film.
What is working on this film like?
The film process takes a lot of time, and so does the editing process and post-production when the film comes out. There’s an expectation that the film is finished within three months, so there is just a huge amount of stress and pressure during production. You’re constantly looking over your shoulder, hoping to catch a break or find a different way to cut the project together. In the end, you have an entire team behind you, but it’s a lot of work.
Did you think about what an independent film is like?
No, my first thought when I was working on [the