Television Budgets – Where To Start?

You’ve been asked to create a budget for the next series your production company will be producing.  If you’re first instinct is to whip out the latest budgeting software like movie magic budgeting – then you would be putting the cart before the horse and find yourself dragging a heavy load up a steep hill, while wearing a pencil skirt in stilettos.  It’s just ass backwards and will get you into trouble every single time.  Listen people – once you’ve dissected the creative, then it’s time to create the schedule.

Take a deep breath, you are about to figure out how to spend millions of dollars to create 6, 8, 10  or 12 episodes of the latest hit cable series.  And if you’re going to do that – then I beg you – don’t get cocky and act as though you’ve done this a million times.  Each budget is a new and unique experience, and creating the schedule will tell you where the bodies will have to be buried.

Break it down into units of time :

The schedule breakdown will give you valuable information.  How many weeks you’ll need the casting department, writers, story producers, field producers, DP, editors, etc., etc.  Once you know how many weeks each person will be on your show, you can start plugging in numbers, including how many edit rooms you’ll need, how many days for pre-production before a shoot, how many crew and cast you’ll need to feed, how many truck rentals and on and on.  The schedule is the key whether you’re dealing with a $1000 budget or a $10,000,000 budget.

Start with the schedule and then start plugging the numbers in.