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How To Calculate The Cost Of Filming An Independent Movie

Many filmmakers focus on the creative part and forget the practical aspects when telling a story, as well as how complicated it can be to go from writing a story to quantifying how much it will cost to bring it to life, in numbers and real money.

However, few film producers know how to establish the approximate value of a script, in order to make a pitch or sale of the project. This is not about having knowledge at the level of a production manager, but having an idea of ​​the cost of the necessary things to carry out a project of this magnitude.

There are several key elements when establishing the economic cost of making a film: The genre of the movie, the cost of direction, the talents, and the rent and commodities of the locations. Although in an amateur production, many of these costs could be suppressed, the truth is that filming always represents an expense.

Movie Genre

The kind of story that is going to be told will mark what kind of film the team is about to make. If it’s a historical drama or a science fiction story, the budget will go through the roof, since productions that require special costumes or locations require a higher expenditure on materials and post-production effects.

Also, all films require costumes, makeup and hairdressing, locations, decorations, and special effects that can go from adding a background to digitally erasing elements on the shot. For that reason, the productions that recreate the past, science fiction or even horror movies are the most expensive since their production require a big investment in these aspects.

Movie Direction

The direction department covers everything that has to do with the planning of a shoot. From the scenes and sequences, the filming style, the direction of photography and framing, the aesthetics of the film, the cameras, lighting and sound equipment, and of course the staff that’s going to make sure that everything happens.


One of the highest expenses in any movie budget is the recruitment of the cast or casting process. The main and secondary actors are those who usually charge higher salaries, as is already known (depending on the fame or reputation they have, how profitable they are supposed to be etc.).


This is a topic on which the technical and bureaucratic details are often ignored and involve a complex reality. It’s important to be smart to seize the most of any outdoor shootings, in addition to avoiding major expenses and the bureaucracy involved in obtaining film permits, especially when it comes to filming outdoor or in places of interest.

All this adds up when calculating the budget for the movie. In the end, the idea that should be clear is that the more complex the story in terms of production requirements, the more money will cost. Keep in mind that a good movie doesn’t have to be an expensive movie.

Making movies is extremely expensive. There are many expenses to consider; each film is like starting a small business from scratch: a filmmaker have to pay to all the people involved in the project, and this could be for months or sometimes year, the necessary structures to work on the project: from the offices production, filming studios to catering and cleaning services, all are expenses that will increase the budget.