Advice on budgeting a live-action short film
Most of the information on this page has been set out using the BFI NETWORK short film fund guidelines published August 2021- please always refer to the most current iteration of the guidelines via https://network.bfi.org.uk/.
You will need to upload a budget with your application using the excel template provided showing a breakdown of your anticipated costs.
When budgeting, make sure to include sufficient funds to cover:
- All costs you expect to incur
- The clearance of all rights in the film worldwide in all media in perpetuity (including use fees, repeat fees and residuals) and any clearance costs for music you plan to use
- Legal fees (if appropriate)
- Payment for all cast and crew at least at national minimum wage rates or higher
- Any access support you require in order to produce the film safely
- Enhanced access materials (HOH subtitles and audio description) for the film
- Production insurances (production package)
- All the delivery materials required by the BFI- the full list is at the end of this page.
- A 5% contingency.
- Any other requirements of funding detailed in the guidelines.
You are not required to put a cost against every line of the budget template – please only show the expenditure you will actually incur on your project. Please note that the funding from the BFI will be a grant and inclusive of any VAT.
If your budget is greater than the amount you’re requesting from BFI
You’ll be asked to state the amount of funding you are seeking from the BFI for your short film, alongside the total cost of producing it. If the total cost of producing your film exceeds the amount you are requesting from BFI, you don’t need to have all of the additional funds raised at the point of application but will need to show an achievable plan for securing them within twelve weeks of the application deadline. These additional funds would need to be secured before we make any award to you.
Access requirements during the production of your short film
If any members of your cast or crew have access needs that will incur a cost during the production of your short film, you can include these costs in your request to us. We define such needs as specific support required by people who are disabled or have a physical or mental health condition, which will result in an actual cash cost to your production budget. This might for example be a BSL interpreter to work with members of cast or crew; additional transport or accommodation costs for disabled team members; or a personal assistant for a team member with a learning disability or mental health condition to assist during the production. If you require support for such costs, please include them in your budget under the category access support. These costs will not count towards the £15,000 maximum award amount – so, if you require additional funding to pay for personal access support during production, you can make an application to us for up to £15,000 plus the additional amount you need for access support.
Enhanced access materials
The BFI is committed to ensuring that the cinema experience is open to all. It’s a requirement of our funding that the film is delivered with subtitles and audio description, and that the availability of these materials is publicised, and they are made available in time for any screenings of the film. You will need to factor the production of these materials into your production timeline and ensure you have budgeted for them. Someone from the creative team will need to take responsibility for liaising with the company carrying out the work. Cost estimates for this work can vary considerably so it is important to shop around as early as possible.
All teams applying for BFI network funding need to plan their project, from the development stage onwards, with the environment and the climate crisis in mind. This means working to reduce your carbon emissions as much as possible, and your impact on the natural world; and to maximise the positive environmental benefits your project could have. This will require you to think about how you travel, where your energy comes from, how you cater, what materials you consume and what you do with them afterwards, etc. We ask all teams to share and embed sustainable values and behaviour with cast, crew and their supply chain, and promote sustainable production to colleagues within production and across the wider industry.
All teams should read BAFTA albert’s what to think about when making a sustainable short and follow these ten actions to reduce their actual carbon footprint. BAFTA albert provides free sustainable production training to understand climate change and the actions that can be taken to create a more sustainable production. At least one person from your team should attend the training. Please check here for upcoming training dates: wearealbert.org/about/free-training/
You will be asked about your environmental planning in your application and can include any specific costs associated with this work in your budget.
Festivals and exhibition
Funded teams are required to deliver a release plan for their film. You may also include up to £500 towards the costs of festival submissions or equivalent exhibition opportunities for the completed work.
Digital cinema packages
You may choose to budget for creating a digital cinema package (DCP) for exhibiting your film. If so, please include the cost of creating an additional unencrypted dcp for the bfi national archive, for the purposes of long-term preservation.
Our top tips
Schedule your shoot before you budget
The breakdown of your script is a key step in the process of creating a shooting schedule. BFI NETWORK provides a production & shoot schedule excel template. Consider the schedule as a map, outlining the scenes of your script in the order in which they will be shot. The schedule allows you to estimate how many days are necessary to make the film and to establish an initial budget to evaluate the cost of your film in order to plan your film’s financing strategy.
The estimated shooting duration will depend on the complexity of the scene. All the elements identified in the scene breakdown could have an influence on the duration of the shoot. The length of the shoot will have a direct impact on your budget and funding routes.
The length of your script is a good way to work out the estimated shooting duration. Usually, one page of script equals 60 seconds of screen time (although there are exceptions)
In shorts, you’d be looking to shoot between 4 and 5 minutes of screen time per day.
Alongside getting all the needed shots and coverage for each scene, consider the time needed for:
- Unloading, wrapping and loading materials into trucks
- Set dressing
- Hair and makeup
- Moving between locations
- Lighting a new location
- Sound checks
Health, safety and wellbeing of your cast and crew
We really want to see projects from producers who centre the safety and welfare of the people they work with. Producers or the production company leading on a project are liable for the health and safety of their employees or people they have contracted to a project and it’s also their job to find out what is required of them. The Health and Safety Executive is the UK safety regulator, whose goal is to prevent workplace death, injury or ill health. They achieve this by working with duty holders to help them understand the risks they create and how to manage them; specific details of legislation and guidance for working in film and tv can be found here. Currently, additional attention should be paid to the needed provisions for covid adjustments including extended shoot days and required PPE. The Advertising Producers Association shooting guidelines are useful for covid safe guidance as the size of production and recommendations for adverts scale well for shorts. Please ensure you are working from the most up to date guidance.
Wellbeing facilitators and mental health provision on set
Many short films explore topics and themes which for some may be difficult and trigger warnings should be given to your cast and crew before they read your scripts. It’s important in these situations and generally to consider the wellbeing and mental health of your team. Wellbeing facilitators, mental health first aiders and social workers can all be factored into your budget where appropriate- on shorts the wellbeing facilitator may have a dual role for example they may also be your ad in order to ensure your budget is as efficient as possible.
Stunt Coordinators, Intimacy Coordinators and Chaperones
If you have scenes in your script where a character is fighting, falling, riding, driving, in water or exhibiting agility and/or strength such as gymnastics or rock climbing you will probably need a Stunt Coordinator factored into your budget. Similarly, if your character is in an intimate scene or a state of undress best practice would be to hire an Intimacy Coordinator. You can read more about Directors UK guide for directing nudity and simulated sex here. If you have children (anyone under the age of 18) acting in your film you will need to secure a child performance licence per child and have an adequate number of licenced chaperones.
There are several essential crew on a shoot but a role that is hugely important to ensuring you stick to time and therefore the budget is a Script Supervisor. Money spent on a Script Supervisor’s fee will likely come back to you in efficiency during the shoot and reassurance that everything needed to communicate your story to the audience is in the can.
Good catering is key to keeping your cast and crew’s energy and morale maintained. To ensure the food you serve your team has been prepared in a safe and hygienic way with all dietary requirements and allergens catered for, look for a company or person with a minimum of a level 3 food safety and hygiene for catering certificate. We will look at how many people are on set each day and your catering budget should be reflective of serving at least two, preferably hot, meals (usually breakfast and lunch) for each person as well as supplying a craft table.
Marketing assets and PR
As part of the deliverables for our funded projects, teams are required to create an electronic press kit (EPK), to give your film the best chance on the festival circuit you should also consider marketing assets such as a poster and trailer. In some instances, and where your budget allows, you might consider working with a PR company to release your film.
Successful applicants will receive a detailed Deliverables sheet with full information on the materials required. In summary, we will require delivery of the following items (the cost of which must be contained in the budget for the film):
Film and video materials
- 1 Pro Res 4444 Quicktime mezzanine file.
- 1 H264 .mov or .mp4 file.
- 1 password protected Vimeo link.
- Caption (i.e. subtitle) files.
- Audio Description (“AD”) track.
- In the event that it is not possible to deliver the Pro Res or H264 files electronically, they should be provided using a portable hard drive such as the Avastor HDX series.
- If you are producing a DCP, a copy of the DCP should be submitted as an additional item of your Delivery Materials.
- 1 selection of approved publicity stills.
- 1 selection of 'Behind the Scenes' stills taken from the film.
- 1 written pack to include one synopsis of approximately 250 words and a 160-character logline, flyers and other publicity material, full credits list, biographies of principal cast, individual producer(s), director(s), writer(s) and key crew, and production information.
- 1 Final Cost Report.
- 1 Release plan.
- 1 BAFTA albert carbon calculator report comprised of pre- and post-production calculations, submitted via the albert website. Visit wearealbert.org to set up an account. You can then log into the calculator itself at calc.wearealbert.org/uk/. The prediction will enable you to see which of your activities will generate the most carbon emissions, and so identify actions to reduce these before you enter production.
- Any applicable rights clearances.
- PDF copies of all clearance agreements including Artists Agreement(s),
- Director and Writer Agreements, Contributors Agreements (to include at a minimum all Heads of Department: DOP, Sound Recordist, Editor, Art Director/Production Designer, Sound Designer (if applicable)) and Music Contributors Agreement, and a copy of the music cue sheet.
- Equality Monitoring Report submitted via online link. This will request information on the contributors to your project and where applicable will be used to measure success against the BFI Diversity Standards.