These 5 Tactics Can Help Filmmakers Cut Costs to Stay on Budget


I would be lying if I said that filmmaking wasn’t a costly business. In fact, every extra hour spent on set…heck, every minute adds to increased production costs. If we consider that the way shooting goes can’t be easily predicted – well, there you have it, a recipe for overspending. Working within the set budget can be incredibly tough, which is something even the most experienced directors are struggling with. And although they can’t completely shield themselves from unforeseen expenses, there are a couple of ways filmmakers cut costs to stay on budget. Without further ado, let’s take a page out of the pros’ book to see how to keep the costs low but the quality high.

What are the ways filmmakers cut costs to stay on budget?

Viewers are utterly clueless about how much money goes into making a movie (spoiler alert – it’s more than you can imagine). They are granted a finished product that was developed thanks to the filmmakers’ blood, sweat, tears, and loads of compromises. Ahh, what wouldn’t they do to only have the opportunity to put their ideas out there completely unchanged…But they can’t, in most cases. They’ve had to adapt to strict financial boundaries, which, surprisingly, most have managed to conquer. So, let’s see just how!

Hiring prospective talents rather than established actors

Not each film has to feature Hollywood superstars in order to turn out well. In fact, most directors shy away from using them and would much rather give the spotlight to lesser-known faces. The fact that they don’t have to pay them as much is truly a relief. A relief that gives the production crew a chance to forward some money to other parts of the movie-making process. And remember, the most expensive of options doesn’t always equal the best one. There are talented, waiting-to-be-discovered actors everywhere, including on freelance platforms. It’s only a matter of looking hard enough.

Being smart about the filming locations

The thought of filming in Florida appeals to many filmmakers, but the question is, can they afford to do so? You’d be surprised by how expensive filming in the States, as a whole, is! When money is tight, lots of production companies decide to take filming abroad, it being a more affordable alternative. Countries like Canada, New Zealand, Malta, and the Checz Republic have become popular choices. Each of them can boast of relatively uncomplicated regulatory procedures, along with low labor costs.

Of course, should the executives choose to base their set elsewhere, there’s the matter of moving the entire equipment and set. Leaving it all to amateur movers’ hands isn’t smart, considering the high value of everything. To ensure the success of the process, the crew should resort to hiring highly-rated relocation specialists, many of which they will be able to find at the database of And who knows, some of them might even have the experience of moving film equipment across long distances.

Using affordable equipment

Not every production can afford to film with an iMax camera, which costs about half a million to purchase, and more than $10,000 a week to rent! And that’s ok. Actually, technology is improving so fast that even phones can be used for shooting scenes nowadays! DSLRs are more expensive alternatives to phones, but they can capture 4K shots that should satisfy the highest industry standards.

In terms of professional cameras, though, there are lots of choices as well – affordable ones. Buying at auctions has also proved to be one of the ways filmmakers cut costs to stay on budget. It is there that they are capable of acquiring pro equipment at a fraction of its retail price.

Hiring locals

It’s not a bad thing to ask for help – especially if doing so means the production costs will be kept down. When filming in a particular location, even the most prominent directors seek the assistance of aspiring local talents. May the highly popular tv show Game of Thrones serve as an example. It’s regarded as one of the shows with the highest budget per episode in history. Yet, when the time to find a wardrobe supplier came, they chose a local duo for the job rather than going with one of the renowned industry names.

Creating a plan and sticking to it

As was said at the beginning, each extra moment the cast and crew spend on the set increases the production costs. That’s why, if sticking to the initial budget is the plan, staying on schedule is imperative. However, to keep on schedule, directors must first create one. It’s important for them to break down the script into coherent parts or scenes, as you might. Then, it’s up to them to develop a shooting timeline – a realistic one, for that matter.

You might have also heard something about scenes being shot without particular order. That’s true, in many cases, and there’s actually a pretty solid reason behind it. If a couple of scenes are taking place at the same location, it would only be natural if they were shot during the same day. That way, actors and executives are spared going back and forth, plus there’s no need to relocate equipment multiple times. And while filming everything at once indeed saves time, it also saves a ton of money.

In Conclusion

Has learning about the ways filmmakers cut costs to stay on budget helped you paint a better picture of just how complicated their job is? Their work isn’t only about creating magic on screen. It’s about solving problems, planning, and organizing the cast and crew. The best movies out there aren’t the best solely because of the actors in them, but because of the filmmakers who made them happen in the first place. So, the next time you sit down to watch a particular masterpiece, take note of the person who brought it to life. They deserve as much praise as the people on screen.


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