Filmmaking on a Penny Budget!

Part One:

Cast and Crew Services –  Local Rehearsals

Cast and Crew Services can ruin any film budget.  However, it is necessary to treat your cast and crew well.  For some independent films, the cast and crew work with a back-end deal, or even volunteer their services to the project for IMDb credits.  For others, the filmmakers provides a full SAG/AFTRA wage.  Whatever the case may be, your cast is sacrificing their private time to be a part of your production.  Make sure you treat them well and provide them with refreshments.

Our current production is on a penny budget.  We are paying SAG wages, and to do so we have chosen to cut costs in every place we can to keep the production moving.

TIP #1:  Find a Free Rehearsal Space

Local rehearsals can be challenging if you do not own your own studio, or have access to a studio.  To save on money, try to find a spot where you can do table readings for free.  If you have a finished basement, this can be an ideal location.  If not, other ideas would include the community rooms at libraries and local coffee shops.  Some Panera Bread locations have large community rooms that make perfect table reading locations.  Panera does ask that you purchase a small amount of around $50 in product for use of their community room;  however, you may also utilize their public dining area with no reserve amount.  You are sacrificing privacy and at times quiet rehearsals, but this can be a great idea for a small production.

TIP #2:  Host the rehearsal yourself – at brunch time!

After many very expensive evening rehearsals and meetings, I began hosting the rehearsals myself.  The basement is a perfect rehearsal spot, and I have managed to create a brunch at each rehearsal feeding up to twenty people.  The first thing I did was switch the rehearsal time from evening rehearsals to morning rehearsals.  We meet at 10:30am.

With the help of Costco, I manage to keep the rehearsal budget down to less than $25.00 on most days.  Each rehearsal includes a spread of coffee, iced tea, soda and water.  For food, I will provide an option of breakfast and/or lunch options.  On breakfast days, I provide eggs, bagels and cream cheese, donuts, breakfast sausage and a large bowl of fruit.  On the days I provide a lunch, I provide a variety of fruit and a home-cooked meal.  This week, the cast will enjoy some beef-tip hoagies, corn-on-the-cobb and fresh fruit.

If I have a very busy week and am unable to prepare the meal for rehearsal, I will make a quick morning trip to Einstein or Dunkin’ Donuts and provide bagels or donuts and drinks.  That will normally cost $35-$45, but I have also spent up to $55 for each rehearsal when I do not plan ahead.

TIP #3:  Print the Script Yourself

Printing the script for every actor can also be quite expensive.  There are several ways to save funds in this area as well.  Purchase a large pack of folders at your local office supply store.  (I found mine on sale for $0.10 each).  Provide each cast member with a folder including their scenes only.  You can provide each cast member a pdf of the script via email if you want them to have one.

TIP #4:  Use Social Media

Create a private Facebook group and utilize the chat feature to keep in touch with your cast.  You can use this to advise of rehearsal times and locations, and any other updates.  This will help your cast to save their time and gas funds if you have an unexpected cancellation or location move.

Do you have other ideas to save on local rehearsals?  Please share!  Also, please visit our youtube video to see my hoagie recipe!




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