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   Training Review
   Film & Video Budgets 4
   Author: Deke Simon, Michael Wiese
   Publisher: Michael Wiese Productions
   Format: Instructional Book (477 pgs.)
   Topic: Movie budgeting

   Cost: $26.95
   For Special Price: Click Here

   Website: Michael Wiese Productions
   Sample Chapter: Click Here

   Release Dates: January 15, 2006

   Review Date:
January 15, 2006
   Reviewed By: Kari Ann Morgan
Final Score:

Money. Budgets. Finances. Yes, I know. Icky, yucky, boring. But necessary. If it wasn't for money and organized budgeting, you would not be making movies. Trust me, as a microcinema producer, I know how frustrating this topic is, but it is a necessary evil that must be not only confronted, but understood, and understood very well.

In this book, Deke Simon and Michael Wiese go through an overview of what goes into starting a production company and the general aspects of pre-production planning and budgeting. Next, they cover a detailed "line item" list of each possible expense you could encounter. Finally, the second half of the book goes through sample budgets for various projects ($5 million feature film, music video, documentary, student film, etc).

Read ReviewPurchase_linkWhen I looked at this book, I had two initial simultaneous thoughts: "Wow! This is a really necessary and important topic!" and "Oh crap… I'll never get through this book." Then I read the first sentence under the "How to Use this Book" section after the Introduction: "Don't read the whole thing!" And my heartbeat returned to normal. What I learned about this book is that it is meant to be a handbook, a guide for whatever type of film/video project you find yourself doing. Because each project has such diverse financial needs, the authors cover general information about budgeting, then look at each specific budget style for you to model when you do your project.

The first two chapters ("Setting Up a Production Company" and "Pre-Production") are extremely helpful, because they go through and explain a lot of technical aspects, including incorporating, getting a business license, guilds and unions, securing rights, legalities, insurance, union/non-union cast and crew, etc. Because most of us micro-filmmakers don't have big enough budgets to require a lot of these services, we typically don't know much about them. However, the more films you work on and the bigger the budget you are responsible for, the more it become essential to be familiar with these things.

The "Line Item" section of the book is quite long, but is necessary. The writers explain what each job or expense entails and gives an estimate (emphasis on estimate) on possible costs for that service. Once you become familiar with the pattern of descriptions, it's a lot less overwhelming to read. For the "Sample Budgets" section, line items that apply to each particular project are explained in more specific detail.

Depth of Information
Depth of information? Oh yeah. Almost 500 pages of it! But, as stated before, you don't need all of it. Once you find the budget that best fits your project (for most of us visiting this site, that would be the "Digital No-Budget Feature Film" chapter), you gather your information, and adjust your budget accordingly.

And these guys have thought of everything that you might need for your project. One of the most important professional reflections on you as a director and/or producer is your ability to stay within budget; because of this, the information in this book is very detailed.

Interest Level
Really, how exciting can budgeting be? For the few, the proud, the accountant-geeks among us, it might border on orgasmic. For the general populace however, it ranks right up there with a non-Novocain root canal. Mercifully, Simon and Wiese recognize this fact, and give the book an almost conversational tone, making it easier to read. Also, because you don't have to read the entire book, and because it is organized so well, it is much less intimidating. Thus, the authors have taken a potentially boring, complicated topic and made it much more engaging and understandable.

Read ReviewPurchase_linkReusability
If you are a producer, I would definitely recommend getting this book, especially if you are dealing with any budget over $10,000. I guarantee that you will use this book repeatedly (as well as the budget guides it provides) for almost every video/film project you handle.

Value vs. Cost
Some micro-cinema producers may think this book is a bit more money than they want to spend. All I will say this: the cost of purchasing this book is far less than the cost of going over-budget or screwing something up due to poor financial planning ahead of time. 'Nuff said.

Overall Comment
As I said, this is not a pretty topic to deal with, but it is one that is necessary and vital to filmmaking. The only people I would recommend getting this book are those that find themselves in the role of Producer. (And for them, I strongly recommend getting this!) I produced a $6,000 movie with no model budget and that was difficult enough; the more money you're responsible for, the more guidance you need to achieve your budget.

The book is well-organized and easy to follow. It provides many helpful tips, suggestions, examples, and contacts to help you make the best budget for your needs. (They also have free Excel budget templates you can download.) They take a lot of things into account and recognize the diverse requirements of different projects you may encounter. And most importantly, this is one of the few budgeting books that actually looks at the financial and budgeting needs of micro-filmmakers and addresses them specifically.

Depth of Information            
Interest Level            
           Value vs. Cost            
Overall Score           

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