It is extremely important to know the areas which impact the final cost and quality of a corporate film. This helps the producer and the client to come to a realistic and reasonable budget for delivering a good quality product. The choice of crew, director, writer are a given. Here, we will discuss the brick and mortar decisions and choices that have to be made to arrive at the final costs.
1. Location: The first thing that impacts cost is whether the film will be shot in one location, multi locations within the same city or will it have an outstation shoot as well.
When the film shoot is within the same city, the costs include moving the crew and the equipment and the time budget for shooting the film. The number of days is impacted by the geographic spread of the filming.
A single location is easy to plan and budget for. It is a single point recce. When the multiple locations are within the city, the budget will be a function of how much travel is needed between locations and how well the producer plans the logistics to make each day as efficient as possible. Often, the requirement includes the client being able to provide the support needed including people who may be needed to be in the film or facilitate certain pre-defined activities as per the schedule given.
In case of outstation shoots, the cost of travel, food and stay has to be budgeted. This gets tricky because to reduce room nights, often the stress is on the number of people who will travel for the shooting. To do this and start doubling up in roles, where one person starts multitasking on the location is not a good idea. It is one thing to cut any slack, quite another to build in inefficiency to save costs.
An outstation shoot comes with several unknowns like the weather, the terrain for shooting, the logistics of food and transport to the location, the local support or the absence of it. If anything, an outstation shoot needs extra equipment (often two cameras than one because you cannot take the chance of your single camera getting a technical problem while shooting) and a production manager in addition to the two camera crews that needs to travel.
If for cost saving, any of these get compromised, then it not only loads the crew with a lot more than what each is equipped to handle but also impacts the total footage that is shot as the work done is the bare minimum.
It is absolutely fine for the client to pick up these costs directly on actuals. They don’t have to be budgeted in the main budget. The type of accommodation, distance to travel to get to shooting locations etc should be pre decided to avoid any problems later.
2. Single camera or two camera shoot: It is rare to have a need for more than two cameras for a corporate film shoot. If it is a single location shoot then on some days even one camera is enough as in case of a problem the renting agent can have it replaced. The decision for two cameras needs to be carefully taken and planned because it means that the director will have to supervise both camera teams.
This can be necessary if access to a location is for limited time and in order to cover it, two teams need to work simultaneously within the given time. Or when there are simultaneous events / interviews to be done. If there is any recreation or dramatization involved, then too there may be a need of a second angle to shoot the same action.
The planning for this needs to be meticulous as otherwise it can spiral the costs unnecessarily as each camera unit will have its corresponding crew and cost.
3. The agreed duration of the film: The length of the film will decide how much needs to be shot and how many days of post-production will be needed. It is important to adhere to this because shooting excess footage will not only increase the cost but also make scripting difficult when it will come to deciding what to include and what to leave out. It will also waste time at the editing table with unnecessary amount of footage to be waded through. Thus, proportionality in shooting according to the final length of the film is an important decision factor.
4. Number of shooting days: Once the above decisions are made, then it is possible to get a realistic estimate of the number of shooting days needed to cover all locations, interviews and any other related work like converting any other material the client gives into formats that can be used for editing. It is important to budget for all this as there is a time and equipment cost for each day.
5. Number of days for editing and graphics: It is important to get the estimate from the editor beforehand because this cost is directly linked to the number of shifts the editor has to work and to the amount of graphics (2D and 3D) that need to be done.
It is important to know the look and feel the film needs to have to decide whether or not to use 3D graphics. Logo designs, transition points, illustrations are important decision areas that need to be decided while budgeting for a corporate film because these elements impact the production values of the film and hence the image of the company.
6. The choice of equipment: Nowadays all cameras are full HD or Ultra HD cameras. Even so, issues like the choice of lenses, whether there is any filming in low light areas and so on impact the final choice of camera. The cameramen often have their own preferred choice of cameras as well. It is good to hear them as they speak from experience. Often a lens is needed for just a couple of shots but those shots, if not taken, are missed at the editing table. Similarly the variety and quantity of lights need to be planned during the recce. Natural light is unpredictable and you need to be able to supplement at short notice. The type of audio for interviews / ambience etc again contributes to the final powerful impact of the film.
Lastly, all equipment is digital so there are numerous mechanical points of failure but in our experience you can never have enough batteries spare for all your different equipments. This is an area to over compensate.
7. Voice Over: This is one component which absolutely cannot be compromised. The voice that tells the story has to suit the story. Just as a song is brought to life by the singer, the script is brought to life by the voice over artist. A script is written keeping in mind a certain tone and manner of delivery. The Voice Over artist has to deliver this to the director.
The difference between the cost of the right voice and just another voice can be substantial as good voiceover artists know their value. Finally, to save money here, can destroy all the effort that went because the film is finally not narrated the way it needed to be and will lead to additional costs in re recording.
There are many other elements of production but these are the 7 key elements which if not in place will impact the cost and quality of film substantially.