How to Maximize the Budget for Your Independent Film

Too often, creative types tell themselves they aren’t good at numbers or budgets. Don’t let that thinking limit you. Working a budget requires creativity. Think of this as just another creative exercise. It is part of the process for getting your film made, and made well, and that’s what is most important.

Know What You Won’t Compromise On

When you know the things you can’t compromise on, you can go from there. This can be a clarifying experience. It can help you carve out what the heart and soul of your movie is. Keep those parts. Don’t compromise on anything that changes the story and don’t compromise on anything that breaks the believability of the world. See everything else as moving pieces and adjust where you need to.


Knowing people can save you a lot of money. It is easy to look at your film and see nothing beyond it, but remember that many people work to bring a movie to life. Meet other filmmakers. Trade your time on their sets for their time on yours. Meet a makeup artist and offer to produce videos for their YouTube channel if they’ll do makeup on your set. Working with people can save you money and bring great minds to work on your film.

Write (or Rewrite) While Considering Budget

It only makes sense that independent film budgeting will start in pre-production. A lot of creatives can be protective of their scripts, but it’s best you work on overcoming that early on because it will be different by the time the film is complete.

How many locations does this script take place in? What are they going to look like, budget-wise? The more you move, the more it will cost.

How many characters are there? The more actors you need to use the more the budget has to spread out across them. This could mean hiring actors that aren’t as great at what they do in order to pay so many. Often if you go over the script, you can find that a character you might have enjoyed doesn’t serve any purpose to the story, or another character could accomplish those same things. Combining two characters into one will save you money and will often make for a cleaner story.

How long is this script, really? Everyone hates this question, but it is a necessary part of revisions, budget-minded or not.

Time or Money–You Choose

It would be lovely to have the budget where you can hire out for everything. But if you’re on a budget, look into learning what you can do yourself. We live in the time of the internet. Watch some courses online. Can you learn how to do hair? Makeup? Editing? Anything you can do yourself, you don’t have to hire out.

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