Everybody has their favorite tricks and tips to save your precious production
dollars. Some of these are obvious, while others are devious but extremely practical.
Here's a few you can use:
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- Avoid Sales Taxes. Suppose you're planning on buying $100,000.00
in raw stock. If your local sales tax rate is 8%, that's $8,000.00! Buy your
raw stock and have it shipped via a common carrier like UPS to your first
intended location. You will be exempt from sales taxes if it's shipped out-of-state.
Pay a hundred dollars in shipping, but save thousands. You might even ship
the stock out-of-state, and back again! (I have)
- Beware Of The SAG Contract Trap. Generally, actors are signed to
either weekly or daily contracts. Once an actor has been signed to a daily
contract, they can't be "converted" to a less costly weekly contract. So,
if you're going to use an actor for three days, sign them to a weekly contract
(Easy Budget makes this calculation for you automatically!).
- Caps and T-shirts. A souvenir cap or T-shirt for your production
might cost you five bucks each, but they are sometimes worth a hundred times
that! An angry neighbor may object to all the trucks and noise, but a gift
of one of your T-shirts might make him your friend instead. They're an excellent,
low cost way to improve community relations. Never make a movie without 'em.
- Choose Your Start Date Carefully. Who says you've got to start on
a Monday? Look at the calendar carefully. Suppose that two weeks into your
shoot there's a national holiday on Monday. Start shooting on a Tuesday so
Monday's a day off. This way YOU don't have to pay for it.
- Makeup and Hair Dressing "Spies." The first people actors see in
the morning are the makeup and hair specialists. They naturally form very
close bonds with these people. Before production starts, make sure these people
are your confidants and willing to report anything important to you which
might hurt the production. They can also be used to "plant" positive motivation
and ideas. Be careful what you say so you don't reveal your special relationship
with the makeup and hair people.
- Music Publishing. If you're the producer and your music score is
termed "a work for hire," you're entitled to a piece of the music publishing
royalties. The music people won't volunteer this information, but you should
get at least 50%!
- Incorporate. No matter how small the production, NEVER, EVER make
a movie any other way. You must protect yourself legally! Get a lawyer and
make sure all the corporate documents are maintained properly.
- Avoid Deferments. Sometimes you have no choice, but it's always better
to pay someone 75 cents today, rather than 50 cents now and 50 cents later.
A deferment unnecessarily obligates you to someone. It breeds jealousy and
eventually creates enemies.
- Learn To Use Film Commissioners. They can be a valuable asset
on any location. But make sure you extract their promises of cooperation in
writing before you agree to film there. Otherwise, a "free" location might
not be so cheap after you arrive. Many of these folks have a reputation of
being the governmental equivalent of used car salesmen.
- Financial Core. Did you know that you don't have to hire union members
even if you're doing a full-on union film? Nothing less than the U. S. Supreme
Court gives you this power! You still have to pay them the same wages of course,
but you can hire anyone you want – not who they tell you to hire. You don't
even have to return their phone calls! Check these links for more information: