movie on a shoe string?

General Moho topics.

Moderators: Fahim, Distinct Sun, Víctor Paredes, erey, Belgarath, slowtiger

dueyftw
Posts: 1941
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 10:32 am
Location: kingston NY
Contact:

movie on a shoe string?

Post by dueyftw » Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:20 pm

I was wondering if you had say 30 thousand to make a animated movie. How would you spend it? Assume the script is already written. About 130 pages or 82 minute feature.

story boards - 2000
voice recordings- 5000
animators- 22000
editing- free do it all myself
music- 1000

Or is it just not enough to pull off a film.

Dale
User avatar
GCharb
Posts: 2202
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:31 am
Location: Saint-Donat, Quebec, Canada
Contact:

Post by GCharb » Sat Jan 17, 2009 9:35 pm

Hello Duey

Trip to Jamaica - 3000$
New car 18000$
New computer 6000$
Beer for all my animator friends so they do the job - 3000$

Heheh

Seriouslly though, 30000$ for 82 minutes of animation is, well, not alot.

You talking 1400 - 1500 shots, sound trak is a bitch, voice recording by professionals cost way more then 5000$

Pinocchio 3000 had 12 millions for the animation alone, true it was 3d but still, we went overboard insanelly fast, at the end they asked us to do many shots for free, which most of us didnt do. The movie ended up on DVD.

La reine soleil had 4.5 millions of budget if I understood properlly, and this is definatlly something AS Pro could do.

My two cents is, use that 30000$ to make a great thriller to get propper funding or make a short!

GC
User avatar
slowtiger
Posts: 5453
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:53 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany
Contact:

Post by slowtiger » Sat Jan 17, 2009 10:00 pm

You will not get far with 30.000. That's a budget for a short film, at least if you want to involve other people.

Items you forgot to list:
Design, Backgrounds, basic character building, rigging - 15.000
Sound design - 8.000
Cinema sound mix - 10.000
Dolby certificate - 10.000
Color grading - several thousands
Transfer to 35mm - 20.000 (that's just the first answer print)
Transfer to DCP - unknown, but several thousands
Direct to DVD - depends on circulation

Items you calculate far to low:
Voice actors - each main character will have at least 5.000, more if a big name, and you rent the studio for days - not cheap.
Music - for 1.000 I may produce 1 song - not more.
Animators - how fast do you expect them to be? How many of them do you employ, and for how long?

I consider myself pretty fast, and once I managed to crank out 5 minutes of animation in 10 days in AS. This was with pre-rigged characters mostly talking and not much else. More realistically you will get 3 minutes of animation per animator per month.

Do the math: 81 minutes = 27 months for one animator, who must pay his rent and everything during that time. Pay him 2.000 per month - if you get him that cheap. That's 54.000.

All numbers are per-thumb-calculations, most of them the bare minimum I can think of, some of them, like Dolby, laboratory, studio, are numbers from actual projects I know.

Let's see, the total is more in the range of 150.000 to 200.000 now. That's usually not a sum you'll find in grandma's purse. Usually there will be a producer at one point get involved whose job it is to get more money from somewhere to spend it for your film. Usually the producer will deal with stuff like studio rent, laboratory, transfer costs - all that postproduction stuff. He also will pay the advertising and the logistics to get your film out to the public, be it in cinema, TV or on DVD.

I don't want to scare you off, I just want to be realistic. If I had 30.000 right now, I could work for 2 years straight on my movie, getting at least half of the animation completed (handdrawn, with BGs and sound, because I do everything myself). Then I'd have something to show a producer, to convince him that it is top quality work which will play well with an audience. And you should really strive for top quality, anything else would just be a waste of time and effort.
dueyftw
Posts: 1941
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 10:32 am
Location: kingston NY
Contact:

Post by dueyftw » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:01 pm

The truths is my credit is good enough to get 200k, but I would be in dept for a very, very long time. I would take that risk if I had a an outlet that I knew could pay it back but there are no guarantees on a inde film. So 4 to 6 minutes is more in line with a 30k budget and hope that someone with the real money would like to see the rest of the movie.

Slowtiger I wouldn't want to quit my day, make that night job. You know kind of job where you wake up and say 'I don't want to go to work' only to look around and then say 'ship I'm here'

I guess that means I'm going to take the first 11 pages and squeeze them down in the story boards. I would love to do it all, but the quality just wouldn't be there. I have a month off of work this summer.

My idea of getting the movie done is that I would make all the assets, backgrounds and characters. Then have others rig and animate them. If I stay under 6 minutes I maybe get it out in 35 mm with 4 prints.

Dale
User avatar
heyvern
Posts: 6964
Joined: Fri Sep 02, 2005 4:49 am

Post by heyvern » Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:54 pm

You might want to try and put together a group of like minded people willing to work for less than what is expected. Often big name actors take a HUGE pay cut just to work on a cool low budget independent film. There are groups of indie film makers who share resources, not applicable in the animated film industry I suppose.

Martin Hash (Animation Master) started out with an initial 100k investment for his intendant "Tin Woodman of Oz" animated film. I don't know what the final cost was. He will probably be distributing it himself. I don't think he will be doing any type of film transfer. that is a HUGE cost. I think "The Blair Witch Project" cost more to transfer to film than to make the movie.

There is another thing that indie film makers would do in the old days; they would make a cheap direct to video horror or T&A teen flick (Attack of the Mutant Beach Bimbos, The Undead Candy Stripers, etc). Do it on weekends with very low or no budget. Go straight to video, use that money to make a "real" indie film with more money in the budget. The trick is to title the movie very close to another popular movie coming out so people buy it or rent it "by mistake".

True story; An actor friend of my brother's was in a low budget western many years ago called "The Unforgotten". It went straight to video the same time as Clint Eastwood's "The Unforgiven" was released to video. We rented it at the local Blockbuster once... horrible movie. Absolutely god awful. Shots with microphone booms in view. Cheesy dialog. Nonsensical plot (a critical plot element was removed completely because the film got damaged or something. Left a gaping hole in the story) My brother's friend was even dressed up in a silly looking poncho like Clint from his spaghetti westerns. I don't even think they had horses in the movie.

But they made money on it. Cost practically nothing to make and they made a profit due to video sales and rentals. I honestly believe many people picked it up by mistake thinking it was the Clint Eastwood movie. ;)

-vern
User avatar
mkelley
Posts: 1646
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:29 pm
Location: Sunny Florida
Contact:

Post by mkelley » Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:21 am

There are some very odd (and/or interesting) responses here to a somewhat odd question. Dale didn't qualify his question so some of the responses were more along the "traditional Hollywood couldn't do this" line -- then again, I'm guessing he was asking the "traditional" or professional animators the question here.

To put it another way -- you can do a 90 minute animated movie for absolutely nothing (well, given the initial software and hardware investment of a few thousand dollars). So his question about how someone might spend $30K and the "you can't do it" sort of responses it invoked were somewhat odd.

If someone gave ME $30K and said I could only use it for an animated movie I think I'd spend most of it on the voice talent, and completely ignore all other considerations. And that's even taking into account I could do much voice work myself -- I'd still want to hire some very good folks for the rest of the characters. But everything else I'd do myself.

Now, this answer would have been far different a decade or two ago, when film transfer would have been high on my list (because making a film that no one can see is kind of pointless) but with so many distribution venues accepting digital I don't think I'd give that much thought now (I just saw a Star Wars satire on Vimeo today that had over 200K worth of viewings. If I could get 200K folks to see my work I'd consider it a success).

I didn't see anywhere in the initial question the assumption that a film was to be made that would give an adequate ROI, if at all. But that's a whole other story -- if so, then most of the responses here were appropriate. But if not -- heck someone could do a whole lot worse with 30K than to leave a legacy of work of love.
User avatar
slowtiger
Posts: 5453
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:53 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany
Contact:

Post by slowtiger » Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:28 am

Well, I don't think you should try to make a bad movie on purpose. Besides, it only works a few times, then never again.

You know the story about "Back to Gaya"? The very first german completely CGI film, made by someone who just inherited some money from his grandma or what. It was enough to start production, once the whole thing got momentum other money jumped in. The result was ... horrible. Their will to "let's make a CGI movie, it's cool" was much much bigger than their capabilities of making a good movie. No ideas, no originality, and mimicking Hollywood without Hollywood money resulted in just a poor looking attemt on CGI.

So before you set up a pipeline of some odd elements (cheap software, some friends) to put up a movie, first streamline your original material, which is the script and the designs and maybe some storyboard. Your selling point shouldn't be "this movie is cheap" but "this movie is going to be good". Let some people with experience read the script, and learn from their criticism. If the majority of your peer reviewers don't say it's good, throw it away, or work on it even more.

You need to define your goal. Do you just want 200K hits on youtube? That's done easily. Do you want a film which pays back what you and everybody else invested in it? Then you must consider the delivery format (TV, Cinema, DVD) and the target audience.

A "labour of love" sounds nice, but it doesn't pay the rent. Also you only can spend a certain amount of time with one single project - if it gets too long, say 10 years, you might not only loose momentum but want to forget the original idea in general, or want to re-do the bigger part of what's finished because now you got better, or the technique got better.
User avatar
GCharb
Posts: 2202
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:31 am
Location: Saint-Donat, Quebec, Canada
Contact:

Post by GCharb » Sun Jan 18, 2009 12:38 am

mkelly wrote:heck someone could do a whole lot worse with 30K than to leave a legacy of work of love
True, 30k is quite an interesting amount of money for an indie movie, nowdays you get pretty decent 3CCD camera, HD even for less then 3k, get some actors from a local acting club or school, same goes for technical venues and you endup with a pretty decent movie for less then that!

Animation on the other hand require a certain amount of talented peoples with specific knowledge, also depends what you want to do with the movie, my guess is that a 80 minutes animated movie is aimed at distribution on DVD or HDDVD, forget about theater with that amount.

A distributor would require several guaranties as well, guarantied production of the DVD itself, they might require a spanish dubbing for the states, maybe even french, yes, french, since it is the third most spoken language in the US.

There are sooo many aspects to the production of a full lenght animated movie that any fallout can, and probablly will, geopardise the project.

I am looking myself at a production of such a project, I know tons of peoples in the trade who can, and probablly will support me, still, this is a huge undertaking.

Vern mentionned the TWO project, made with Animation Master TWO official site
The project is interesting, pretty much all of it was and is still done by the community members, some have a bit of money for it some are doing it for fun, but it is still a huge undertaking and will probablly be sold on Hash site.

We'd need more infos to be more precise.

GC
User avatar
chucky
Posts: 3935
Joined: Sun Jan 28, 2007 4:24 am
Location: Van Diemen's Land
Contact:

Post by chucky » Sun Jan 18, 2009 2:59 am

I know actors are "important" but WTF.
This whole discussion is like one of those TV show aimed at women who want to talk about dressing well for under $60.00 but instead of the cheap shop, you guys want to buy Armani.
You DO want to spend more money on labour intensive and critically important process like storyboarding, design and the actual animation.
Oh yeah and the script....
Good and inexpensive voice acting is entirely possible, after all it takes no time and is a fairly painless process just don't go fishing for Katherine Hepburn :wink: until you've got the budget.
You want really cheap, don't buy labels, buy quality, if the quality is good enough, then the labels will want to invest themselves.
Oh yeah good morning everyone, I think I'll have a coffee.... was I shouting? :)
Sequential offender.
my latest animations
User avatar
GCharb
Posts: 2202
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:31 am
Location: Saint-Donat, Quebec, Canada
Contact:

Post by GCharb » Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:16 am

chucky wrote:Oh yeah good morning everyone, I think I'll have a coffee.... was I shouting?
No you were not :)

And I buy my clothing in a cheap shop, really cheap actually! 8)

The thing is, for 30K it is best to make a short, get noticed, maybe win a prize or two to help you get the money needed for a big production.

At least this is my opinion, if it's all about making something you may be proud of, then go for a short and put it on the web, enter contests and have fun without selling your soul to the DVD market.

If it's about money, then just make a contract with the devil, give into publiclly aclaim technologies and themes, then, when you get loads of cash for it, then do what you like.

The world is a cruel place that smells like sweet potatoes!

GC
dueyftw
Posts: 1941
Joined: Thu Sep 14, 2006 10:32 am
Location: kingston NY
Contact:

Post by dueyftw » Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:40 am

Thanks for your responses. I think Slowtiger has the right approach, no matter what the movie should be top quality. 30k is not going to get the quality I want if it's 80 minutes, but I should try for a short on the material.

I have entered the script in contests and learned the hard way that if you don't have a three acts that any moron can spot or follow the Hollywood generic formals you get such nonsense as 'You have this main character showing up on page 47, he is an exciting character should be near the first page.' for feed back.

I don't think I would want to make a bad movie on purpose, because I don't need anyone's help for that. :)

One of the things I like about ASP is that it not that hard to re lip sync into another language.

For now I think that I will work on getting the storyboards done for the first 11 pages. I will do them in a stick figures and most likely pay to have someone flush them out. Once done, send out the script and storyboards to big name voices. See what the reaction I get is. This should be sometime at the end of February, I have a vacation for a week to get away from the cold of NY to visit my parents in FL.

Dale
User avatar
GCharb
Posts: 2202
Joined: Mon Oct 10, 2005 2:31 am
Location: Saint-Donat, Quebec, Canada
Contact:

Post by GCharb » Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:12 am

For your storyboard you might be interested in Storyboard quick

Great for fast but still good storyboarding!

GC
gyula
Posts: 29
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2008 8:32 pm
Location: Antwerp

Post by gyula » Sun Jan 18, 2009 7:56 am

i think 30k is only enough to make a good teaser but nothing else. this is to show producers what you, and your team are capable of doing.
there are projects where bunch of people unite and make a very cool animation for free and they distribute it for free (animation master, kommuna.org, etc) not much future in these projects, except to get experience, leave the team and get a job where they pay for what your doing.
so what you can do with your 30k is get a very good story, for at least 15-20 episodes, slice it up to chapters, make special, unique characters, beautiful backgrounds and make ONLY the first episode. eye-candy style, good storyline... and sell the the rest of the series. 3 minutes is enough. if they like it they buy it, if not, you saved yourself a lot of time not making it too long.

(for story, dont write it yourself, dont do it with a software, pay 5k to a professional writer who makes up a good storyline, or 10k if he makes a better one, a lot depends on it)
User avatar
mkelley
Posts: 1646
Joined: Fri Nov 02, 2007 5:29 pm
Location: Sunny Florida
Contact:

Post by mkelley » Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:39 pm

Let me promote this point of view one more time (not for the original poster, who seems satisfied with the answers here, but for some other person who might be thinking about this).

You CAN make a full length animated movie for under $30K -- you can make it for almost nothing nowadays. And you can also spend up to $30K *wisely* and make improvements in whatever film you want to make. To not fulfill your dream because "it can't be done" or "Hollywood wouldn't do it that way" or whatever other folks are telling you is just plain crazy, IMHO.

To look at it another way, the Star Clone War thingees that are running now on the Toon channel (or wherever) cost millions to make, and they are beautiful to behold. They are also a POS (once again, IMHO). OTOH, I've seen some stop motion animation on the same channel that is absolutely brilliant in terms of storyline and fairly obviously cost a whole lot less.

It isn't about the money you spend, and (truly) it isn't about how the animation looks UNLESS that's part of your vision. IOW, if your vision is beautiful images and/or flowing 3D animation then that's what you want to accomplish (although with today's software even that is within your reach).

All the advice given above here is practical, sound and realistic -- and doesn't mean one damn thing if your dream isn't to produce something commercial and/or make a lot of money. While in general filmmaking at all levels is a much more collaborative effort than writing a book or painting a painting, there's nothing wrong with creating your own piece of art on your own and/or spending some money to get your own art accomplished.

When I think of all the crap that has been produced over the years, all the big budget, big studio waste of both my time (in watching) and all the artist's time (in making) it makes me truly sad that someone would abandon their own dream of making ANY film just because they don't have the funds.

One more example: I watched a shot-by-shot remake (done by teenagers) of the original Indian Jones movie that was about ten times as good as the latest one done by Spielberg. How much did that movie cost those kids? I dunno, but less than $30K I'm sure. I'm sure glad they didn't abandon their own dream (and I'm sure they are as well).
User avatar
slowtiger
Posts: 5453
Joined: Thu Feb 16, 2006 6:53 pm
Location: Berlin, Germany
Contact:

Post by slowtiger » Sun Jan 18, 2009 3:51 pm

I'm all for low budget undergound filmmaking, mind you. But from personal experience in that field for more than 25 years I can tell that if it doesn't pay the rent, if it doesn't look good on screen, then it doesn't satisfy myself.

There is a certain level of just technical requirements which I am not willing to abandon: good sound, good image quality, broadcast or cinema standard delivery format. It all has become cheaper over the decades, but it can't be had for nothing. So this is something I'm willing to pay for.

There is also a certain level of professionality when employing other people: I want to pay them, because I expect to be payed for my work as well. I can ask my friends to do voices for me, but I don't ask them to do it for free. I may ask for being allowed to delay payment until after the film premiered and money (hopefully) comes in. This is, BTW a common business construction in Germany's independant filmmaking.

These are just my personal goals.
Post Reply