No Celebration Without Vultures or How I Learned to Love Budget Cuts

Comment reduction video budget
Illustration: Katerina Limpitsouni

Video productions are forced to be world champions at saving money. Hardly any film calculation does not have to be adjusted downwards. In the process, the quality goes down the drain. It’s reprehensible. Not because of budget cuts. But because it can be done differently, claims Carlo P. Olsson.

There is no film budget that doesn’t need to be cut. All the more astonishing is the fact that cost reductions are regularly approached completely wrongly and detached from any film knowledge.

Video productions are always expensive. The client’s demands are not congruent with the available film budget. The director doesn’t care about numbers. A desperate competitor steps into the pitch with a surreally low offer. Now the rule is: if you don’t reduce your own costs, you fall out of the running.

The battle for the client’s favour is won by those who are convincing. Also in terms of cost.

You may find it unfair, but I advocate a strict separation between customers with film expertise and those unencumbered by it.

If there is a lack of understanding of the mechanics of video production on the client side, there are only two questions that providers need to address. First, how do I win the contract? Second, can I keep my promises? Whether this involves working tactically on the numbers or working with a lump sum, the end justifies the means.

Morally justifiable is everything. Except to lie to the customer or lure them in with false promises of quality for the prospective order.

It becomes more difficult when the client is knowledgeable. Not because the latter is in a better position to check a budget as a result of his knowledge than an uninformed customer is! Whoever buys a video today always works with a cost specification from his superior.

If the cost estimate does not fit the budget, there are two options. The client, possibly also represented by an agency producer, submits proposals for cost reduction himself. Or he asks the production company to revise the numbers in the quote.

Regardless of which of these two situations occurs, the ugly face of despondency is revealed at this point at the latest. Exceptions prove the rule. A little trimming is done here, a few euros are saved there and a few hours of work are cut back there. The effect: the cost framework decreases. And the quality goes down the drain because the concept, which has met with customer love, is adapted only minimally differently to the reduced video budget.

Devil willing, this kind of kicking mine is barely noticeable. 100 × 10 euros saved, reduces an offer by 1000 €. In theory and in a budget meeting, these savings seem harmless. Nevertheless, such a procedure leads to the same effect as letting air out of a football. The effects only become apparent in an emergency on the pitch.

Filmmakers and their clients would therefore do well to think more radically when it comes to reducing costs. This requires backbone and courage, because the key is always in the video concept or script. The budget is just a reflection of that.

Crucial to any successful cost reduction is always the integrity of the Production Values. Not the fear of rearrangements in a film concept. Videos with anaemia and no muscle testify to the lack of will to make savings by omitting or rewriting scenes or locations of action.

At the end of the day, any budget saving is about not just doing things right, but doing the right things.

This article was automatically translated into English using AI. If you would like to help us improve the quality, we would be happy to hear from you.

Carlo P. Olsson
About Carlo P. Olsson 138 Articles
Carlo P. Olsson accompanies the production of films, videos and TV series on behalf of companies, agencies and production companies. In his spare time he plays ice hockey and is engaged in baroque sound drama.

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