Hot Docs Jots

Publication: Budgeting For Emerging Filmmakers Part 3


This monthly series (Part 3 of 3) illuminates some of the mysteries associated with budgeting. This is not a step-by step guide, as each film and budget is unique and dependent on numerous variables, but rather, an overview that helps you enact best practices for your next project. Preparedness and adaptability are the most vital tools when maintaining a budget over the life cycle of a film.

See the full publication here, which includes a break down of a detailed sample budget for International and Canadian filmmakers.

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The Hot Docs Forum 2017

Post-Production.

Make sure to clear the rights for your music and archives (festival, theatrical, broadcast, etc.) and try to clear it in perpetuity. e.g., “All rights, in perpetuity, throughout the universe, in all languages, and in all media now known or hereafter devised in physical and virtual territories.” In perpetuity is not always possible, but you have a better chance of getting it at the start rather than later on. Have conversations and build relationships with your archive rights-holders as soon as possible. Get them interested in your film. If you can’t pay for everything all at once, have a deal in place about what the additional fee will be for theatrical/broadcast so that you can budget for it and not have to re-edit the film later because your material licences have become unattainable. Do not get married to a particular clip or song unless you can afford it. It’s easy to pull money from post-production into your shooting schedule, but try to avoid it. Budgeting for the length of the edit is widely underestimated and you will invariably want more weeks. Do not take money from your marketing, outreach, engagement and impact allocation—they should be part of your marketing strategy from the creation of the budget.

To consider for your Granting Bodies.

It is extremely important to deliver your necessary deliverables on time.

• BEST PRACTICE: Grantors, like all funders, expect due diligence.

Incorporate the required logos in the final credits of your film. This is usually a stipulation of being awarded funding. Non-compliance raises red flags for future applications to that and
other funds.

And Remember.

A sense of confidence in your budget comes with time—some projects will be under budgeted, but some projects else will be over budgeted, and if you do your homework, you will be pretty much on track. Knowing when to overreact or not comes with time and experience!

Thank you to John Choi, Nicolina Lanni, Al Morrow, Stewart le Maréchal, Kristina McLaughlin, Yael Melamede and Karam Masri for offering their advice and expertise

Photo credit: Joseph Michael Howarth


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