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-   -   Production Co. responded to my query... (http://messageboard.donedealpro.com/boards/showthread.php?t=59977)

nightcrawler 01-26-2011 03:23 PM

Production Co. responded to my query...
 
Hey guys. I recently queried a new production co with a logline, and short synopsis. They have done commercials and other media, but am now taking a step toward features.

The Head of Production responded saying that he's interested in reading my script, but first, if I could send a Full Synopsis, Setting and Backdrop, and estimated budget.

Is this the norm?

I've gotten a few request of just sending over the pdf. And what does he mean by setting and backdrop? The tone of my script?

I'd love to hear your opinions. Thanks!

SoCalScribe 01-26-2011 03:32 PM

Re: Production Co. responded to my query...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by nightcrawler (Post 715991)
Hey guys. I recently queried a new production co with a logline, and short synopsis. They have done commercials and other media, but am now taking a step toward features.

The Head of Production responded saying that he's interested in reading my script, but first, if I could send a Full Synopsis, Setting and Backdrop, and estimated budget.

Is this the norm?

I've gotten a few request of just sending over the pdf. And what does he mean by setting and backdrop? The tone of my script?

I'd love to hear your opinions. Thanks!


A synopsis is easy enough... and as far as the other two, he's probably trying to get an idea of cost and location. I would imagine that telling him, "It's set in Los Angeles" or something similar would be fine... and just estimate the budget by looking at films with similar production elements and checking their budgets on IMDB. I doubt he's looking for anything specific. "Under $10M, under $25M, under $50M, over $100M" would probably be sufficient to give him a good idea.

Juno Styles 01-26-2011 09:13 PM

Re: Production Co. responded to my query...
 
SoCalScribe - you asked me in one of my threads similar to this one "Why is the producer asking you about budget? Isn't that his job?" I'm wondering why the prod company in this case is asking him for budget, setting and backdrop - all questions that can be answered by just reading the full synopsis or script?

nightcrawler could easily spit out some random budget estimation number and be $10 million over or under what it really costs. being as he's head of production he should be able to gage all that himself. \_(ツ)_/

SoCalScribe 01-27-2011 12:23 PM

Re: Production Co. responded to my query...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Juno Styles (Post 716053)
SoCalScribe - you asked me in one of my threads similar to this one "Why is the producer asking you about budget? Isn't that his job?" I'm wondering why the prod company in this case is asking him for budget, setting and backdrop - all questions that can be answered by just reading the full synopsis or script?

nightcrawler could easily spit out some random budget estimation number and be $10 million over or under what it really costs. being as he's head of production he should be able to gage all that himself. \_(ツ)_/

If I recall - I can't find the thread at the moment, so please correct me if I'm wrong - that, while this producer asked for an estimated budget, your production company asked you for a budget (as in a document). If I have that wrong, please let me know.

If a producer/prodco is asking you for a budget (document), or a specific number... that's not your job as a writer and, unless you have specific experience budgeting and scheduling motion pictures, it shouldn't be expected that you even have the ability to do it. No offense... budgeting and scheduling just requires a specific skillset/knowledge base that even most industry insiders and a lot of creative producers themselves don't have.

If they're asking you generally for an estimated budget... as in an approximate range... there's nothing wrong with that. It's just a question because they're likely trying to determine whether the script can be made within their business model.

So - to clarify, in case I misunderstood your situation - if asked for a general budget, you should feel comfortable (and be able to say), "This is a low budget drama that can be shot for under $10M." Or, "This is an effects-heavy, action-heavy script that will probably be over $100M to produce." Or, "This is a comedy with only a few locations and an ensemble cast, so it can be reasonably budgeted around $20M to $50M."

That's okay.

If you're asked for a specific budget (document) or to give them a specific number, as in, "How much should I tell investors to wire into our production fund?" Or, "Can you send me a copy of the budget?" Then that's not okay because, as a writer, it's not your job, nor should you be expected to have that information at your fingertips.


As a writer, it's useful to know about general budgeting information... what elements cost a lot, how fast your pages could be reasonably filmed... how many setups you're going to need... etc. Having an understanding of what makes a movie expensive (and what saves money), and thus being able to extrapolate a generic budget range is a very useful skill to have. Most people who have been involved in producing, or even general film production, can develop a general sense about these things.

To actually budget and schedule something, though... and I mean to do it well, minimize costs, etc., you need to know a ton of information... everything from guild and union minimums (and their ancillary rules), to tax incentives and what production costs they cover, to expenses related to shooting on location versus in-town. It's a very intensive process and - to ensure it's done well - even well-established creative producers will usually have an experienced line producer create the budget, to make sure it's as tight as it can possibly be.


So when someone says, "What kind of a budget range are we talking about?" Or, "What do you think it would cost to shoot this?" It's useful, as a writer, to have some kind of idea. At least enough to be able to say whether it's low budget (under $20M), medium budget ($20-$80M), or high budget ($80M+). When someone says, "Submit a budget with the script," or "Tell me exactly what this will cost," that's when you have to tell them that you can give them an estimate, but you're not a line producer and can't give them specifics... and especially not a document to review.

Does that make sense?

nightcrawler 01-27-2011 01:36 PM

Re: Production Co. responded to my query...
 
Okay, quick question about the full synopsis. I've never sent a full synopsis to someone. Usually just the short one to pull them in. For a full... Do you reveal all beats and twists? Or just expand a bit of the short synopsis?

PrestonW 01-27-2011 01:58 PM

Re: Production Co. responded to my query...
 
For a full synopsis, you reveal everything. You've already "hooked" them in, now you must reveal all the significant beats and plot points. Now is not the time to tease them; you must reveal the broad basic beats of the entire story--to include the ending. This should probably be around 2-6 pages, and shorter is almost always better.

SoCalScribe 01-27-2011 02:07 PM

Re: Production Co. responded to my query...
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Juno Styles (Post 716053)
SoCalScribe - you asked me in one of my threads similar to this one "Why is the producer asking you about budget? Isn't that his job?" I'm wondering why the prod company in this case is asking him for budget, setting and backdrop - all questions that can be answered by just reading the full synopsis or script?

nightcrawler could easily spit out some random budget estimation number and be $10 million over or under what it really costs. being as he's head of production he should be able to gage all that himself. \_(ツ)_/


UPDATE: I just searched through and found that other thread.

For me, the questions Nightcrawler was asked (setting, estimated budget, etc.) sounded to me like someone trying to get a general feel for the project... is it feasible to shoot based on their capabilities, does it fall within their business model, etc. Which is a perfectly acceptable issue to try and resolve before you read a script.

In your thread, the question asked of you was:

Quote:

Can it be made for a $2 million dollar budget without compromising the creative?
Again, for me, the question you were asked (can it be made for a specific budget number without compromising the creative) is something that isn't an assessment of the project's particulars as much as asking you to make assertions about the project's financial viability. What does "without compromising the creative" even mean? Is he asking if the script, if shot page for page, as is, can be made for two million bucks? But what if he wants to make changes? Are you prepared to guarantee the project can and always will be able to be made for $2M regardless of whatever creative vision he may be trying to execute?

The reason I said, "isn't that his job" in my response in your thread was because I took particular issue with the "without compromising the creative" tag. If it's solely a question of "Can this movie be made for $2M?" and you're relatively sure it can, there's nothing wrong with saying, "As written, yes, I think it could be made around that budget." But "without compromising the creative" is a loaded question, because you - as the writer - have no idea what production considerations are going to come up... including this producer's own ideas about how to produce it!

As I mentioned in my earlier reply, there's nothing wrong with talking about the budget of your project in general terms, especially if the producer or company is trying to assess if your script fits in their mold. But - and maybe it's just based on the way I read the question - your situation seemed an awful lot like them asking you to make absolute assertions about the financial terms of the potential production. And that's the producer's job.

Hope this clarifies. :)

Juno Styles 01-27-2011 02:51 PM

Re: Production Co. responded to my query...
 
Hey socalscribe yes that makes perfect sense thanks.


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