Budgeting & Scheduling: What the Smallest Productions Can Learn from the Biggest

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

By Alicia East, CrewCloud

Gear failures, budget busters, scheduling snafus—video productions are rife with opportunities for things to go wrong. Whether you’re putting together your first small shoot or the 100th episode of a major television program, some scheduling and budgeting tricks can make any production smoother. We asked CrewCloud Manager Ashley LaRocque—formerly a post supervisor for network TV—to share some simple but hard-earned wisdom on ways to save time, money, and headaches.

Three lesser-known tips to save headaches when budgeting and scheduling your next big project:

1. Budget extra money and time for working across time zones

Technology is a great way to bring people together across multiple time zones for meetings. But, for daily production and post-production details, it still only goes so far. Even in the digital age, the most reliable way to transfer footage is still on physical hard drives. Packaging, insuring, and shipping costs money. Lots of money. LaRocque once worked on a show that filmed in Australia. Having post-production halfway across the world in Los Angeles made the process incredibly cumbersome. In typical situations, after the crew shoots, they process the footage overnight and hand it off to post production the next day. But in this case, it took a day and a half at best to get to post. Not only did it slow down production and turn shipping into a huge expense, it also took longer to catch mistakes. Time is money. Waiting for resolution costs a lot of both.

The bottom line is that you have to make sure the final result of working across multiple time zones is worth finding both the extra time and money in your budget.

2. Simplify processes to save time and money

Most people with “executive” in their title, such as your very own executive producer, don’t have time to read every single email they receive. Or any of them. Including executives in email chains is often a formality. But as LaRocque explains, it’s a necessary formality that has a simple workaround.

We all know it’s the assistants who truly run the show, so LaRocque learned to group executive producers and their assistant(s) under the EP’s name. Every time she emailed one, she emailed them all. Grouping contacts pays off the first time you don’t have to search your memory for an assistant’s name or your inbox for a months-old email.

Another way to save money, time, and brainpower is to use a crewing service to book domestic and international video service providers local to your shoot. A good crewing service can be invaluable when it comes to (quickly!) finding high-quality crews with the right gear and vision for your project. Not sure how to even go about hiring a trustworthy crewing service? Here are five things you should look for.

3. Expect the best, but prepare for the worst

You can get a decent idea of what a production will cost if you have worked on a comparable project, but there are always less obvious costs. Consider ahead of time what costs might come at a premium. If you’re traveling crew, you’ll need to set aside extra time and money for ferrying people and their oversized gear, feeding them, and putting them up. If you need to shoot a particular scene at night, keep in mind the premium crews charge for working overnight.

After you’ve budgeted for every subtle expense you can think of, add line items for the ones you’d bet against happening. If you don’t think “zombie apocalypse” will make it through the budget approval process, call it weather delays or gear failure instead. Whatever you call it, just go ahead build in the extra costs now so an extra 10K due to rain delay or a broken camera doesn’t bring your production to a grinding halt.

Similarly, post-production supervisors should have a backup plan in case money gets taken out of their budget. Since post means “after”, it’s only natural that it will receive what’s left of the budget after everything else has already gone wrong. Expect to work on a shoestring budget and you’ll be either dead on or pleasantly surprised.

Plan ahead, but also be flexible when things change course. Because they will. You’ll be easier to work with (and happier!) if unforeseen circumstances don’t derail you.

Who couldn’t use a little more time and a little less hassle on their next shoot? Barring interruptions from zombies, following these tips and planning ahead will make your next project smoother and more profitable.

About CrewCloud


CrewCloud puts a world of video service providers at your fingertips. In just a few clicks you can search, chat with, and booked vetted crews local to your shoot—all on your own schedule. Crews are paid in 30 days so they're always ready for their next gig. Our crew coordinators are on call around the clock if you ever need live assistance. Visit http://www.thecrewcloud.com, call us at 303-526- 4900, or shoot us an email at hello@thecrewcloud.com. More articles from CrewCloud coming soon!

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