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astroThere is a lesson in the urban legend about the Space Pen. The story goes that NASA spent a veritable ton of money developing a pen that could write in zero gravity while the Russian Space Program used… a pencil. In fact the Fisher Pen Co. developed the Space Pen independantly and both Space programs adopted the pen*.

But let’s go back to that urban legend for a moment…

Spending lots of money to develop a high-tech solution when an wildly affordable low-tech solution is already available. Are you doing that with your film?

Yes, we love our digital effects and animation, greenscreens and motion capture… but don’t rule out low-tech just because “everyone” is doing high-tech. Challenge the crew to think up creative, low-tech solutions for shots in order to focus production’s  money to the most important shots and scenes for the story. In a world of high technology, you may even find a publicity story in your low-tech solution(s) to help garner visibility for the finished film.

So here’s to creative low-tech!

Cheers & good shoot to you,
Deb

*Among other things, the graphite dust of pencils is a problem in space. For more info on the urban legend of the Space Pen, look at the summary on Snopes urban legend reference site: http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

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Here are some more of my “favourite” expensive expenses…

6. Stunts & Special Effects – Well, any of the special departments really. Lots of planning (read “money in prep”) has to happen to make sure the “special” shots happen with all their movie magic on-the-day. The many logistics on set to address issues like safety will also slow down the speed of the production on-the-day.

7. Prototype Equipment – Prototype means there is no backup when it goes wrong or breaks down – you have the only one. You  may need 24-hour fix-it crew to keep the equipment in working order for the set day. If you are fortunate enough to work with a prototype when there is two – one will be being repaired while you’re on set with the other one… Murphy’s rules.

8. Large Vistas – The more you see in a shot, the more it costs. If it’s a country vista in a period piece, there will probably be telephone poles or the like to digitally remove. If it’s a city vista, you may need to close a number of streets with all the permits and personnel required to do so. If you have crowds of people in the vista – that’s a lot of (paid) extra vouchers.

9. International Co-Productions – Granted that structuring a coproduction may be necessary for the Producer to raise sufficient funds to make the movie, but the costs of travelling cast, crew and/or equipment, immigration & customs, the extra sets of accounting books, the extra legal costs to set up the necessary documentation, etc. bring unique expenses to a production that non-copros do not typically have to deal with.

10. Music Rights – There are rights to use the “sheet music” (kind of “author rights”) – that allows you to perform your own version of the song… but there are also “master recording rights” that you also need to purchase if you want to play a certain recording of that song… and sometimes there are also artist rights that have been held back by certain performing artists that you have to purchase too. If the song you want is in the public domain… someone can still write a particular arrangement of the P/D song and therefore attach new “author rights” to the song you thought was going to be free. Research the origin of any and all music you want to include in your film in any manner.

Happy budgeting!

Cheers,
Deb

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