Saturday, August 14, 2010

Making a Business Plan pt 2 (How Much Do Other People Cost?)

2. How much do other people cost?

Let's look at how much it really costs to pay cast and crew. Now, for the complete cast and crew on a feature you're looking at what? At least 100 man/days? That is you have on average a bit more than 8 people on set (including cast and crew) for about 12 days.
Let's say those are 12-hour days and that you're paying (egads!) minimum wage at, what, about $7.50/hour to each person. When you include the employer side of taxes and unemployment and disability and the like you're at a cost per hour of $9.15. For a 12-hour day that's a cost of 109.80.
So that's $10,980 of cost for the wages of a feature film where you're only paying minimum wage on 100 man-days. Ha! These calculations are absolutely at the rock bottom of possibility (which I say even though right now we aren't paying anything but I know that eventually we're going to have to.)
What about post-production costs? Can you realistically get away with yet another 100 12-hour days at minimum wage for visual effects, picture edit, dialog edit, foley, color-correction, music, sound effects edit, and mix?
Let's pretend the answer is "yes". If so, the total costs of wages is around $22,000. That's incredibly low and based upon deranged assumptions of how little people can work for yet still live in the New York City area.
What isn't included is other costs which these folks incur. First-wise is food. For a hundred man-days on set you gotta figure $1500 at minimum. I probably go through $75 in seltzer alone [no, I don't.] Then transportation... well I think we'd have to budget $3000 for transportation and food.
We're looking at $25,000 per picture and that's only if we can keep it down to 100 man/days for the actual shoot. That number goes up to (say) 250 man/days and you find you have to pay $100/day (which costs you $122/day) and you add your post-production staff and you're easily breaking through the $35,000 barrier on cast and crew.
And, as we know in this market, that would make it impossible to make your investment back.
But let's pretend we can keep the costs to $25,000* and we'll see what we can do with increasing our revenue on each picture.
*We make our pictures for about 1/3 of that in cash right now. We don't even expect to be able to gross that now. Both of those numbers are going to eventually have to change.

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