How Much Does it Cost to Make a Feature Film

How Much Does it Cost to Make a Feature Film?

Film budgets are as varied as individual personal budgets. Some are lavish and elaborate, others simple and very basic. Some have plenty of wiggle room, others have very little wiggle room at all. The average feature film budget ranges between $70 and $150 million. This of course depends on a variety of factors. If you want to produce a feature film but you’re wondering, how much does it cost to make a feature film? Does it really cost upwards of $100 million or is a feature film something that can be produced for a fraction of the cost? And, more importantly, WHY does it cost so much?

We hear these types of questions a lot when it comes to feature film production and there are several answers involved. Feature film production budgets range widely based on the actors involved, the type of production and features involved such as animated graphics or special effects, and the mere amount of time and effort that goes into the production and post-production editing of the feature.

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Budgeting a Feature Film

How is a feature film budgeted? What dictates the estimated cost for each area of feature film production? Two great questions!

Here’s what a typical feature film budget includes:

● Cast and crew

● Scriptwriting and rights to the script

● Producers

● Director 

● Production costs

● Post-production costs

These costs are varied widely based on individual factors that are unique to each area of the feature film budget. For example, the budget for the cast will largely depend on the actors involved, and their expertise or reputation. Likewise, the cost of post-production budget will depend largely on what types of editing take place — are there special effects? Are there animations?

Feature Film Estimated Costs

As a rule of thumb, standard video production rates can run between $1,000 and upwards of $20,000 per finished minute. Feature film costs are often in this upwards of $20,000 per finished minute range with the typical feature film running for 75 to 210 minutes on average. Most audiences think of a feature film being about an hour and a half, or 90 minutes, long. However, at a rate of $20,000 per minute, a feature film that is 90 minutes long would cost about $1.8M. Where does the other 98 million come into play?

The truth is, many feature films can be produced for significantly less than the $100M that is estimated for big Hollywood movies. In fact, feature film budgets can be produced for the $10K investor, the $100K investor, and a $500K investor as well as the $1M and over-investment range. The goal here is to help you see that money has a widely elaborate impact on feature film production. A low budget will equate to low salaries, lower technical skills, and lower overall value — but this does not mean that a feature film produced on a strict, lower budget, is not going to be worth watching! In the end, the amount of money that you put into a feature film is going to be based on:

● Hiring actors that are as talented as required for your project, but not over-talented or over-qualified, or over-famous. If you’re fresh out of film school, a feature film can be produced with a non-union crew that will curb the budget.

● Total shoot time for the project. A longer shoot requires the entire film crew on set for a longer period which equates to significantly more costs. Keeping to one location can reduce costs but it also limits your ability to build a robust storyline and features. Shooting in locations that friends or family hosts will also save.

● Low budget features can be produced if you write your own script or have a script that somebody is willing to provide in exchange for your production.

A medium-budget feature film production allows for a bit more flexibility in your shooting and post-production stages. A medium-budget feature film provides for several weeks of shooting and a bit more professionalism when it comes to hiring a production crew but there are still various needs to cut corners and reduce costs. Hiring a Director from the DGA will cost you $100,000 so a medium budget feature usually will not include this luxury. Likewise, your colorist and sound mixer will probably be fresh out of school with limited history as hiring the upper end of these crew members will come with a price tag of about $20K or more each.

Comparatively, feature films can be produced for somewhere closer to $1M and this will provide slightly more wiggle room but you’re still talking about several tens of millions less than the “average” feature film cost. While a $1M investment will provide the ability to pay union rates for film crew staff there is still a lot of bargaining going on. You have to work rates down to a budget that will work for you because you’re probably not going to be able to afford their “asking rate” at least not for everyone.

Feature film costs can and do quickly add up. If you’re still wondering, ‘how much does it cost to make a feature film?” Give Beverly Boy Productions a call! We’ll help you break it all down based on your budget and your vision.

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