Archive for March, 2010

The PM101 Budgeting Pencil

The what? Am I sure I didn’t mean “budgeting computer” or “budgeting software”? Yep. I’m sure. There really is a PM101 Budgeting Pencil… and it’s unique since it’s more than 50% eraser.

Why? Because no matter how well one writes a production budget, there will always be the job of rewriting, reducing, revising and refining it over and over again. Like any good script that will undergo several drafts before the camera rolls, so will the budget undergo many iterations before becoming locked.

The PM101 Budgeting Pencil is here to remind you of that element of the budgeting process. You write it. You revise it.

Now don’t let all those iterations create panic or fear and block you from writing the budget in the first place. Let them instead release you from writing the perfect budget on the first pass. So in honour of the budgeting process… and in happy anticipation of the publication of the new edition of my book “Film Production Management 101: Management & Coordination in a Digital Age“… I bring you the one, the only and the little odd… PM101 Budgeting Pencil.

Come and join me on FB at www.facebook.com/DebPatzBooks and earn your chance to win a PM101 Budgeting Pencil for yourself. A random FB fan every month for the next three months will win one. And at very least, it will give you a little chuckle – and that’s a good thing too!

So, until then… just write it. Then revise it. Happy budgeting and see you on FB!



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A production budget? What a question! No answer can be made without further questioning. Here’s a quick look at a few of those “further questions”.

Question: Is this the one of the first times you’ve written a budget?
Answer: If “yes”, it will take you a long time.
Consolation: You will understand the detail of every line item on the budget, and so be in a better position to manage the production.

Question: Is the production or script unique compared to what you’ve done before?
Answer: If “yes”, it will take you a long time.
Consolation: You will expand your repertoire and expertise with this new budget… plus your previous experience will help you to ask more of the right questions and therefore write a really good budget on the first pass.

Question: Do you have an example budget as reference (one that you did not write)?
Answer: If “yes”, it will take you a rather long time.
Consolation: If you do the work to really reverse engineer how the example budget was written, you can write a good budget that will work for the production… catching the incomplete areas and the line items that are inappropriate for your particular production.

Question: Do you have a previous budget as reference (one that you wrote – and ideally, production managed)?
Answer: If “yes”, it will take you not such a long time.
Consolation:Your hard work over the years is paying off. In the previous (reference) budget you know and understand where the line items and calculations came from. You know the assumptions under which the budget was written, including which union or non-union rules. You know the script and actual shoot of the previous production and so can identify similarities and differences between that one and the current script – in order to concentrate your budget-writing effort. Every budget you write gets a little bit better… and this one will be an even better reference to you in the future.

What other “further questions” come to mind for you?

Happy budgeting!

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The next day’s set was in the subway station… right across the street from the production office. Did we really need a location map? I mean who could get lost between the production office and the set?

We made the map anyway, but had a little fun with it. Yes, it had the necessary hospital information and parking directions, but we also included the shops you’d have to pass along the way to the subway entrance – the chocolate shop, the shoe store, etc.

Oddly, on the day the Director showed up at the production office and not at the set. Alas… 🙂

Cheers & a good shoot to you!

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During the Winter Olympics the streets of Vancouver were packed with people. It wasn’t strange to see 5 and 6 hour line ups to pavilions and activities. Shoulder-to-shoulder people sandwiched onto public transportation. A constant stream of folk milled around downtown, walking up and down the streets.

Now that the Olympics are over, the streets are more back to normal, but somehow “normal” feels like ghost-town empty. An echo of all that excitement is all that remains. What a familiar echo. I know it. It’s the same echo I feel the day after working on a film shoot. Wrap. All those work hours, all that activity, all that interaction… over in a day.

It’s production wrap. I sit on the back porch, completed exhausted. Do I have the energy to make myself even a cup of tea? Will I ever have the energy to “do it all again”? How very alone I feel. Very uniquely alone.

Time to rejuvenate. Recharge those personal batteries. No more thinking about the needs of “today”, I need to think about “tomorrow”. But first perhaps take a trip. Time to take some breathing room time to remember the reason why I got into this business in the first place. I trust my internal flame will re-light. And it does. And yes… I’m be ready, actually eager, to do it all again! Whattabiz!

Best wishes & a great shoot & wrap to you!

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