5 Ways to Work Within a Limited Production Budget

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

Asking how much to budget for a video production project is like asking how much to budget for building a house. A house can be built for $100K or $10M or anywhere in between...it's all in the details. Likewise, the creative and production value of a video can drive the budget of any particular project. Oftentimes, many businesses have to work within a limited budget to shoot a video that has high-quality production value and effectively engages with an audience. If you're looking to shoot your next video on a limited production budget, here are 5 ways to get started:

1. Invest in pre-production

The biggest mistake we see with less experienced production teams is not spending enough time and money on pre-production. A dollar spent in pre-production can save five to ten dollars during production. Without the proper planning in pre-production, projects become too rushed, and end up wasting time and money with the wrong equipment, the wrong crew, and spending way too much time shooting the wrong thing. It' amazing what a little planning can accomplish and how much it can save!
2. Work with your vendors on pricing

Ask your vendors if they offer any extended payment terms and/or discounts. If you can make smaller payments to your vendors over time, it will allow you to use that extra money for the actual video production. It also never hurts to talk to your vendors about doing a buyout. This can help control cost over-runs by sharing the risk with your vendor. It is also a good way to lock in your budget earlier in the pre-production budget.
3. Get the right crew

Sometimes having a smaller, yet more skilled and experienced crew can be financially beneficial in the long run. An experienced crew who knows the ins and outs of a video shoot can help save time during the pre, during and post-production. Remember: when it comes to video production, time is money. A skilled video crew is also more likely to take on multiple roles during production, which can also keep your costs down. The crews’ experience with video production will also ensure that your video will be of the best possible quality. Additionally, an experienced crew will be well versed in the little tips and tricks that can make the video more compelling with an audience.

4. Think about on-location vs. studio production work

There are several unknown variables that can occur when shooting on-location. Weather is probably the biggest, but even things like gawkers and unruly barking animals can put delays in your production. This is important to think about because each delay in your production can have an impact on your budget. On-location shooting also involves spending money to secure locations, permits and insurance. Studio shooting can solve all of that, but you will still have to spend money on rent and set designs. It's important to decide which option is best for your video and then weigh the pros and cons to plan your production accordingly. 
5. Watch your soft costs

It's very easy for low budget productions to spend way too much money on fancy hotels and expensive meals at the expense of production value. Try to limit the budget for soft costs such as travel and meals. Reach out to local catering companies and hotels to try and secure discounts, and then save the expensive dinner for the night the production wraps (if the budget still allows). If you are paying for client and agency travel expenses, it's important to agree on the number of people traveling to the shoot so you can plan your budget accordingly. The last thing you want is to have to pay for twenty people when you were only expecting five.

As you can see, finding ways to work within a limited budget can be critical to the success of your video project. Hopefully, these 5 ways will help the next time you have to shoot a video project on a limited production budget. 

Are you looking to hire a video production company to help with your next project? We invite you to download our complimentary checklist of 10 potential mistakes to avoid during the hiring process. Or if you're looking to discuss your next video project, simply click here to submit your project request and a member of our team will be in touch.

Guest Blog Contributor

Jeff Becker is the owner of Reel Men Rentals, the largest equipment rental house in Arizona and Phoenix Production Services, a production services company providing coordination, crew and gear to productions in Arizona.

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