Well, the taxes are done, the bills are due, and here's what we spent. I think there are words for this, but not polite words. I thought I'd do a little post-mortem for future filmmakers out there to understand just how expensive it is to make a movie!
This budget goes from our preproduction (June 1, 2014) through to post-production (April 1, 2016). It does NOT include the promotional costs, festival submission costs, distribution insurance costs, distribution costs and rewards fulfilment still to come (estimated at about another $30,000).
1. Equipment; Total budget $18,361
It's amazing how fast batteries, back-up hard drives (5 of them we needed!), extra memory, flash cards, spare microphones, replacement equipment, and repairs and rentals (we needed extra lights for instance, in one shoot) all adds up. I certainly didn't anticipate half of the expenses involved. Yes, we got a little crazy with making sure we had EVERYTHING we needed, rather than jerry-rigging stuff on-set on the fly, but it still came to far more than I was expecting.
2. Software Total budget $6,456
Subscription software sucks. When you've got a team of people all working on Adobe CC paying monthly fees, and then adding all the plug-ins needed, a few copies of Izotope RX, and a few other software packages to aid in post-production, wow, that adds up fast. Nothing we could really do about it, though. Being a creator, I'm not a fan of piracy, and we had to have the right stuff to do the job right.
3. Kickstarter fees; $6,290
Nothing we could do about this. Kickstarter takes 5% of your sales, then another "3-5%" in processing fees. It worked out to about 10% of the total income we made from Kickstarter.
4. Promotional fees: $5,232
We could probably have cut down on some of these fees in hindsight. They include advertising, postcards, stickers, and those types of promotional items we gave out and continue to give out at events. It hopefully will pay back in the end by spreading the word, but we could have probably gone "budget" rather than getting the high-quality, eco-friendly print stuff. I don't know. It doesn't seem that much considering the reaction we get from people when we give them a sticker or patch.
5. Research and production costs $4652
These costs include books I bought to do background research on systems before interviews, to buy games and soundtracks to play/listen to before interviewing people, retro gaming equipment, and also the stock production costs. Seems excessive, I know. I think I'll be having a big book sale coming up!
6. Professional services $18,905
We were surprised by a number of additional costs that added up fast: a carnet (kind of a passport for your equipment) required a $6000 bond, and cost about $1500 after the bond was released. Insurance, translations, interpreters, hiring a top cellist for a session, and other professionals that helped out over the two years. yikes! The trouble is, you get what you pay for, and volunteers are great until they have to actually do some work. To get work done on time, you have to pay. It's just the way it is.
7. Rewards fulfilment $7130
We bought most of the rewards already, and are just waiting now for the DVD and books before we can get all of these shipped out. Nothing we could do about these costs. We wanted top quality, and we paid for it.
8. Mail $1149
We haven't even fulfilled the rewards yet, and managed to spend $1149 on mail!? We sent postcards to backers, and sent out some Christmas cards and gifts to some top backers and supporters. We had other mailings to buy, and we had to use Canada Post, probably the most expensive mail service in the West. I'm looking into driving to the USA to mail our fulfilment rewards out.
9. Phone $278
Roaming charges. It is what it is. *sigh*. Some people have a love-hate relationship with the phone company. I have a hate-hate relationship with the phone company.
10. Travel: food $3410
I haven't counted up how many days we were actually on the road. I'm guessing something like 2.5-3 months. For the crew (sometimes 4 of us) that added up to a lot of food. You don't cheap out on food on set. You just don't. Ask Matt cranky-pants about his expensive lattes every day. Some days we lived on vending machine snacks or 7-11 sandwiches because we had no time to eat. Other days, well, we splashed out on a good meal at least once a trip.
11. Travel: Other travel $68,638
Yikes! Just Yikes! When the Canadian dollar tanked, I knew we were in trouble with our budget. When our AirBnB pulled out on us the WEEK before GDC, we got stuck with a HUGE hotel bill (c. $20K more than we'd budgeted for!) for that trip. We could have saved money I suppose, if Matt and I shared a hotel room, but his wife probably wouldn't have liked that too much. Plus Matt is a late owl, and I'm an early bird. After spending 14-16 hours a day with him every day, I'd have murdered him at some point if I had to see him at night too. We also had to rent suites a lot, since we were shooting in the rooms on most trips. The money we spent on the suite paid off in the time we saved setting up in new sets (about 2 hours per each shoot), so we were able to interview more people this way, but it sure does cost a LOT to rent a nice suite in a big city these days. Oh, and BAGGAGE fees! We spent about $1000 a trip on overage fees. We had a lot of gear to bring. It's Matt's fault. My audio stuff fit in one case. We actually did some trips with barely any clothes to reduce baggage. I'm pretty sure we smelled funky.