Wednesday, April 27, 2011

$500 a Minute

Everyone knows filmmaking is expensive. I've belabored the point enough by now (or maybe just for now). Even student filmmaking ends up being grandly expensive, but in a much different way.

I've talked about this idea before, the principle that what you don't spend in money you spend in time. I'd like to reemphasize this point on the eve of our third (and probably last) fundraiser for Weighted.

Because we started pre-production for this short film so far in advance, we had time for fundraisers. And fundraising takes So. Much. Time. Allow me to briefly elaborate, and then we can consider, with one another, whether the money we were able to raise was worth the effort we put into it.

TRON Dance Party:

Fundraising Team = 10 people
Average time spent per person = 16 hours

Net funds raised = (approx) $300
Total man-hours = (approx) 160

Value of average man-hour = $1.87

Have you ever worked for one dollar and eighty-seven cents an hour? You did if you worked on Weighted's first fundraiser.

Let's move on to a more lucrative effort.


With this effort, we spend the majority of our time putting some interview videos together to share with the people who visited the site. We hoped that if visitors had the chance to see our lovely faces, they would be overcome with pity and love, and give us money. It worked.

I'm not going to try to give the breakdown cost of the man-hours we spent here, but my guess is that we did a little better than a buck eighty-seven, and this method of fundraising was certainly our most profitable. What's interesting is that it was also our most straight-forward: "Please give us money."

Weighting for Spring Concert:

This one hasn't happened yet, but it has already cost us overwhelmingly more in man hours than any of our other fundraising efforts combined. The thing that's been killing us is having changed our plans over, and over, and over again. It turns out putting on a concert is, like, hard.

Originally, this was scheduled all the way back at the end of March. That means we started planning for this event back in February. It was going to be a rooftop concert. We found out later that was an impossible idea. Then it moved to another date, and another location. And then the date changed again. And then we had to pick a different location. Then we moved the date and location one more time. Oh, and through it all, our musician line-up changed constantly and totally.

Thankfully, it's all locked down now. You can read all about the event, which is happening tomorrow night, here.

We figured at the beginning that this ten-minute film would cost $5,000 to make. Hence the title of this post. The college (bless them) gave us 3K to start, and then it was up to us to raise the rest. We're all crossing our fingers that we can meet our goal. I think we will.

All told, 5K is not a lot of money for a film like the one we're making. I mean, shoot, we're making someone fly, right? It would be an interesting exercise to figure out what this whole thing might cost if everyone was getting paid, and we had to rent or buy everything we're using to make this movie. The RED camera alone would cost 500 a day. That would have been half our budget, just for the camera. Man.

Well, I've probably said way too much about what we're doing. My producer might kill me. Ah well, I've had a good run.


  1. Hmm...maybe next time you should all work at McDonalds or Walmart for the amount of hours you put in. But then you would have created really great social events which not only help you raise money but serve as great advertisements for your film. Eh? Eh?

  2. What didn't get posted is:
    Last night's fundraiser turned in $15 of profit.
    For the months that have gone into this... We earned, on our own $15 - and the venue felt so badly they gave us $35 so they could hand us an even $50.

    Ah, well.
    And no, your producer won't kill you at all! In a student filmmaking blog, it's only appropriate to tell exactly how low-budget we get! And the pathetic, meager methods we use to try and get there!


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