1. QUESTION EVERY PRICE Always ask if the price could be lower. Offer the supplier some other value that they may be willing to go for. Someone will ALWAYS do it cheaper and much better. THE PRICE CAN ALWAYS BE LOWER. Never accept the first quote offered.
2. SHOP AROUND Take the time to ask a lot of questions, make phone calls, interview technicians, visit studios. Get out your production directories. EXPLORE. Ask people for recommendations. Make lists of contacts. Check out every lead until you're an expert on people, places and prices. Then spend your money.
3. COLLECT INFORMATION If you question every price and shop around then automatically you are collecting information. Most information is FREE (like this information) and it should be. But you have to be motivated to do some research. The more you learn, the more options you'll have. Filmmaking is problem solving.
4. GIVE YOURSELF TIME Careful planning will make for a smoother, more cost efficient production. Don't misuse time and energy.
5. PLAN, PLAN, PLAN Planning ahead always saves money. Spend as much time as you can in pre-production. Successful low budget filmmaking only works with great pre-production planning THE SCRIPT/FILM BUDGET CONNECTION Go through a final shooting script. Determine the number of days, locations, setups per day and crew size that is necessary. ACTORS, PROPS, COSTUMES - Every detail that will be associated with the script.
FILM BUDGET BASICS
ABOVE THE LINE COSTS - In a production budget, the amounts to be spent on "the principal creative elements," such as story and script, producer, director, and lead performers.
BELOW THE LINE COSTS - In a production budget, all the amounts to be spent on the production of the film that are not included in above-the-line costs, including cast (other than leading performers), crew, travel/living expenses, laboratory, legal and accounting fees, insurance, financing expenses, and post-production expenses.
CONTIGENCY - An extra allowance added to the production budget to cover unexpected expenses. The contingency normally is at least 10 percent of the above-the-line and below-the-line expenses to satisfy the completion guarantor.
There are many budget formats and depending on where you live, the budget you write will be different. I have my own budget outline but when presenting it to Production Companies, Producers etc.. I write the budget that they use themselves. Writing a budget is like writing a script. Before you begin, make sure you know who your audience is and who will be reading it.