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Free Film Budget Templates for Excel

Money is always a concern when creating movies, and it is usually tricky to figure out a starting point. The same budgeting problems will occur whether you’re a self-employed filmmaker or a member of a professional film making firm. One cannot simply add up all the expenses when crafting a film budget, as they’re typically complex. Instead, the budget for a movie needs to include every possible expenditure that might be incurred during production. 

This article will assist you in identifying the crucial elements you need to consider while establishing your film’s budget.

You will discover why a film budget template is needed in your production process, what should be included in such a document, and how a well-planned film budget will help you prepare for unseen and hidden costs like catering and insurance coverage.

A well-made film budget will not only help you stay organized and track your spending throughout the production process but will also assist you in acquiring financial support from investors or other parties who may be interested in helping you fund your project. However, some investors expect actual production costs to be close to the budgeted amount.

Film Budget Templates

Creating an appropriate film budget for your movie can be difficult sometimes. However, you can use film budgeting templates containing all the components and expenses related to making and releasing a movie. You can easily access our free downloadable film budget templates here to help create your next film budget for all the crucial components of your filmmaking process.Film Budget-3gn4g7h-09-22

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 film budget template excel


    Numbers are essential now than ever in the world of film production. Maintaining the authenticity and correctness of finances is crucial to guaranteeing success in the movie you’re attempting to make. The financial viability of your production plans is ensured by knowing your daily expenses and having a film budget. Having a dedicated cushion set up can also make it easier for you to deal with unexpected expenses.

    Furthermore, it becomes possible to quickly reallocate part of the movie’s budget by identifying what could be reduced from your current budget.

    Additionally, a stated film budget will impact the potential cost of hiring personnel. If a person sees your budget and wants to be a part of the project, they could easily adjust how much they’re willing to accept. Naturally, your financial situation will affect the level of insurance coverage and possible charges.

    Phases of the Film Budget

    Budgets for film productions can be split into different stages, and every stage costs money. The stage of film production typically determines the budget phase. First, a preliminary stage is necessary to gather money and offer investors a sense of what the movie would contain. Then, there’s also the secondary film budget, which is only developed once the film has been funded. The budget at this time is based on real and actual cost estimates. The two phases are further discussed below:

    The preliminary budget

    This type of movie production budget is broad and generic. It is particularly appropriate if you are trying to produce a short film that does not require external funding. It is one-phased, and the budget breakdown lists the necessary line items for a simple or brief film.

    The following categories can be found in a preliminary budget:

    • Above the line: The costs charged to a director, producer, or writer are all regarded as “above-the-line expenses.” Additionally, costs related to production, like producer fees and buying the rights to a project, also fall under this category. 
    • Below the line: includes everything from pre-production to post-production, including crew, equipment, and location.
    • Below the line post: This includes the costs associated with post-production services like visual effects, editing, and post-production facilities. 
    • Other: This covers anything from production insurance to marketing and distribution fees.

    Secondary film budget 

    This is usually created as soon as financing is secured. It presents a more accurate film budget prediction made possible by concrete and actual estimates from the crew members and actors.

    What to Include in a Film Budget

    Although no two budgets can be the same, some basic categories can usually be found in all budgets. The categories to be included in a film budget are discussed below.

    Pre-production costs 

    This category comprises the approximate number of days, actors, and categories of personnel you will need for successful movie production. You should also expect to incur some additional costs during this stage.

    This category of costs can be broken into:

    • Production department costs: include printing call sheets and script copies and the costs associated with office space rental, internet connectivity, and printer supplies.
    • Prep cost: As significant crew members will likely be present for scout sessions; you must budget for any necessary preparation days.
    • Rehearsals: A few days of rehearsing may be necessary with the director and the actors, leading to extra costs.

    Production costs 

    The production cost includes everything involved, from the shooting of the film to the last editing process required to make the movie a final product. Since almost everything is involved in this category, it usually takes up the bulk of the total amount budgeted. The cost items included in this category are:

    Equipment cost

    As movie production equipment is quite costly, you should consider leasing or hiring people with their equipment. But whether you buy, lease or use people who bring their equipment, you should have an insurance cover to protect yourself in case a piece of equipment gets damaged during production. In addition, it would be best not to compromise on the audio quality. Your audio system should be of the highest possible standard.

    Location expenses

    Getting and obtaining authorization for sites may be quite costly. Unless you intend to use a public space, you need authorization. Find out in advance whether you need permission to shoot at each location. You must notify the appropriate authorities beforehand if you’re also using a gun or any other weapon in a public place.

    Costumes/makeup/animation expenses

    Every actor in your movie will need a costume, either manufactured or purchased. Typically, the type of movie will determine the amount of money spent on outfits. Although you can ask performers to bring their costumes or wardrobe if it’s a low-budget movie, it would still be preferable to have extra outfits for the leading roles. Also, no matter how the movie is, you’ll need a budget for paying make-up artists for any special make-up effects (like fake blood). You’ll also need a make-up artist to do an essential cover-up with the actor’s role continuity.

    Production design

    Although usually overlooked, your movie set’s design will determine the screen’s look. As you break down your movie into scenes, you should also determine your budget for designing the corresponding sets. Finally, make a list of props you need to buy or construct to design the set.


    The number of people you’ll feed daily while filming should never be overlooked. An easy and affordable method with a tight budget is asking friends to help. Hire a professional caterer for larger productions. 

    Transport and accommodation

    The fact that you will be responsible for paying the transportation expenses for actors and staff on a movie shoot is another crucial thing to keep in mind. You should talk about gasoline costs before shooting if the crew will need to move around a lot during film production. The easiest way to keep prices down is to hire drivers locally. In addition, you might need to provide or rent accommodation for a large cast and crew.

    Post-production costs 

    Post-production expenses will vary depending on the nature of the movie and whether computer or CGI effects are required. Here are some factors to take into account:

    Hard drive charges

    You’ll need to purchase a lot of hard drives for your movie to safeguard the filmed content. You could also need to rent space for your post-production team’s offices.

    Director, editor, and talent fee

    These costs are high, especially if you hire an editor and a movie director. In addition, working with an editor may be time-consuming, especially for low-budget films. Talk to your editor about the turnover time to get a better estimate of the potential time the editing process will take. You might still need assistants and additional post-production staff, such as visual effects editors for larger productions.

    Music and editing expenses

    Regardless of how little you can spare or have to work with, songs utilized in your film need to be approved. However, getting the rights to well-known songs and musical works is quite expensive, so you may opt to work with music composers and sound designers.

    Wages of cast 

    The size of your movie will determine the amount of money attributed to wages. Even though the wages of your actors are the most significant cost here, you still need a proper breakdown to ensure you don’t get caught unawares by the wages of other cast members, like background actors and fringes that may be involved. Wages of the cast can be broken down into:

    Salaries for actors

    Cast members should be one of your film budget’s initial and most important categories. First, organize scenes for each cast member by dividing your script into sections. Once you have a count for each character in your script breakdown, proceed to:

    • Establish the number of pages to be filmed per day and the number of days each cast member will be needed.
    • This number should be multiplied by 1.5 or 2. (Performers often spend more time than scheduled in front of the camera)
    • In your film production budget, record the anticipated number of days that each actor will spend on set to figure out their pay.

    For example:

    An actor must be paid $500 daily, with 15 pages of script to deliver. If you plan to shoot five pages every day, the budget for this actor would be 15 pages ÷ 5 pages per day = 3 days of scheduled time * factor of 2 * $800/day = $4800.

    Expenses for extras

    It would be best if you also accounted for extras by totaling the number of times each background actor will appear. This should then be multiplied by the number of actors.

    You’ll get a background total for actor days multiplied by the background day rate.

    For example:

    If a background actor is paid $150 per day and a scene has 10 background actors, it will require 10 background actors per day. So the breakdown would be: 10 background actors * factor of 2 (in case filming goes beyond a day) * $150 = $3000.

    Additionally, take into account the members of the crew who will get flat-rate pay. For example, your crew breakdown should include the producer, director, sound/camera, electric, art, craft department, cosmetics or hair stylists, wardrobe, etc., should all be included in your crew breakdown.

    Expenses of above-the-line Crew 

    These are the essential members of your crew that need to be hired before starting pre-production. They include the following:


    Screenwriters typically earn two percent (2%) of the movie’s production film budget, so you must make arrangements for their compensation before starting work on your project. In addition, acquiring narrative rights would also be required if your film is based on a book or video game adaptation.


    The producer is usually the best-paid crew member because they are not only the first person hired but also the last to leave a project. Therefore, they typically receive up to five percent (5%) of the production/ film budget. However, they might increase their fee based on their level of experience.


    The person who visualizes the script and directs the cast and crew to realize that vision is the director. As a crucial force behind your movie’s aesthetic and dramatic elements, you must decide beforehand how much they will earn throughout the entire post-production process, including their rates for supervising the edits. 

    Photography director

    The photography director is another essential element to the success of the project. They are also usually hired very early in the pre-production phase, and thus, they make more money.

    Expenses of below-the-line crew 

    After hiring your critical crew members, you may begin recruiting the remainder of your staff. Your director and photography director could also make recommendations for those you should hire. Your crew size usually depends on the strength of your budget. The staff to be hired would ideally be for the camera, lighting, sound, art, assistant directors, production, make-up, costume, and additional areas where necessary. However, remember that the larger the crew, the slower filming becomes.

    Distribution costs 

    Self-employed filmmakers should avoid getting caught off guard later in filmmaking with distribution costs. It is preferable to have a distribution strategy in place before you begin filming. The cost of creating a movie continues well after the movie is finished.

    There are entry costs for film festivals, and you may want to invite the necessary cast and crew members to the film’s premiere. Even smaller productions are advised to engage a sales agent, while bigger budgets are advised to hire an entire PR team. You could also opt for self-distribution by planning movie showings or DVD sales.

    Miscellaneous costs 

    Everything, including fees for background checks on potential employees and legal fees, can be referred to as “miscellaneous costs.” It would be best if you also planned for unanticipated costs like a sick actor or a venue cancellation. Your preventive plan should include 10% of your film budget to account for unanticipated issues. Additionally, you should calculate and set aside the amount required to cover insurance that might be needed for loss and damage during production.


    Calculating the crew’s salaries might seem daunting, but you don’t need to stress over the exact breakdown before estimating their wages. 

    To arrive at a salary estimate for your crew, divide the total pages of your movie script by the number of pages that are expected to be shot daily. For example, if your movie script has 40 pages, and it is expected that four pages will be shot daily, you’ll get the number of days the crew is expected to work when you divide 40 by 4. Based on this assumption, your crew is expected to work for ten days.

    You should then break down your crew according to their roles (i.e., directors, camera team, wardrobe, transportation team, producers, etc.) and multiply their daily wages by the number of days they are expected to work. Finally, ensure you take note of those crew members that charge a flat rate and plan for them accordingly. 

    Save on Smart Script Planning

    Many factors indeed contribute to the success or failure of a movie, but the most critical factor has a proper and high-quality plan. In addition, a film budget is vital in executing and bringing an excellent script to life. Below are some things to keep in mind to improve and sharpen your script planning:

    1. Prioritize difficult scenes

    Filming conversation is often easy, unlike sequences with many effects and work. Note the number of pages for every problematic sequence. The page estimates for every challenging scene or one that needs a moderate effect should be doubled. Each scene estimate should be four times as long if the sequence requires a lot of effects or particularly complex movement.

    2. Stunts and special effects should be included

    Colors should be used in your script to indicate points involving special effects or stunts. Stunts and effects don’t have a set formula that works for everyone. Labor and material costs should be calculated separately. Determine whether special effects or stunt coordination teams are needed. Backup camera crews are occasionally required. A film budget should be included in the breakdown of the scenes where stunts or special effects are to be used. 

    3. Tailor the film budget to fit your requirements

    You should always match your film budget with the type of film you’re trying to produce. While it’s true that different productions can be broken down into the use of similar techniques, the relevance of these techniques will vary according to the peculiar film requirements. A simple way to think about this is that budgets for martial arts action movies and short romance films will be entirely dissimilar. Similarly, a horror film will have a higher cosmetic film budget than a sitcom.


    Consult experienced people in your network to guarantee that your film budget is financially sound. Check your figures with a mentor, salesman, lawyer, or anyone you know who has the experience, and you will be honest with yourself. No matter the type of movie you intend to make, maintaining control of your spending can be accomplished by crafting a film budget and updating it during the movie’s development. Your film budget will probably go through multiple revisions as it is being made. Therefore, always estimate a higher cost than necessary to avoid being caught off guard. Additionally, keep extra cash on hand for other needs while filming.

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