4 Ways to Stretch Your Production Dollars

2 min

We all know that the cost of a production can get out of hand very quickly. Movies, TV shows, and other productions are constantly over budget because of all the “unforeseen circumstances” that may arise.  How do you, as the Production Manager, stretch your money – especially on a low budget shoot so that you are able to come in at the original production estimate?  There are a number of ways to ensure that this is possible, you just have to take time to think them all through.

Hire Local

This is usually done when the production is smaller – or independent, although there are all types of productions that try to hire locally. You will generally pay the same crew member rate, but you can cut travel costs and in turn save a ton of money.

Travel Discounts

If you are indeed flying production people in, then you need to take some time and do your homework by looking for the best possible travel deals available. Try to get everyone on the same flight at the same time. Call in any favors you have to reduce costs. You can even try making a deal with a travel agency to fly all your people with them all the time in return for a discounted rate.

You will also need to find good rates on lodging and transportation. These are a little easier to come by, especially if you have a large amount of people to accommodate. Hotels and food establishments are usually willing to work with you on this matter.

Offer Your Crew More Work

If you are in the position to offer some of the crew members – or all of the crew members, a longer contract, then you can probably get the project done for a lower price.  Take advantage of this.  Instead of hiring two or three people to do the same job at different points in the production, offer the entire job to a single professional.

Build Your Own Equipment

This can be one of the very best ways to cut cost on a production. You will of course need certain equipment that can’t be built, i.e. cameras, but there all sorts of rigs and props that you can build yourself using low cost supplies and a guidebook. Some examples of equipment you can build yourself are…

  • Steadicam Rigs
  • Crane Rigs
  • Camera Tracks
  • Lighting Rigs
  • Greenscreen
  • Camera Mounts

These are just a few of the low cost items that you can easily build with some hardware supplies. This will indeed save you thousands and thousands of dollars.

If you’re willing to think ‘outside of the box’, you will be amazed at how these various tactics will reduce your production budget expenses and ultimately keep you in high demand the next time a production is in need of a Production Manager.


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Rick Davis


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