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Planning the Low-Budget Film [Paperback]

Robert Latham Brown

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Book Description

April 1 2007
Finalist, 2007 Benjamin Franklin Awards, for Best New Voice Nonfiction and Professional/Technical
Novice and aspiring filmmakers seeking to learn how to develop a feature film will find a step-by-step blueprint in this guide. Drawing upon the more than 30-years experience of an industry professional, the book examines how to identify and break down shooting sequences in scripts, scout locations, create a production board and shooting schedule, deal with unions, budget a film, and rebound when it all goes wrong. Along the way, readers learn how to economize to get the most value from limited funds and what to look for in a prospective crew. To facilitate an understanding of the concepts, a real-life example of a complete budget and production board for an independent low-budget feature film, The Anarchist Cookbook, is provided.  The guide’s concise list of contacts—film commissions in all 50 states, Canada, Mexico, Australia, and England; payroll companies; and vendors of supplies—along with a directory of unions and guides will simplify sourcing. Other supplementary aids include a complete glossary of industry terms, a list of all safety bulletins issued by the Industry Wide Labor/Management Safety committee, and a comprehensive index.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Chalk Hill Books; 1 edition (April 1 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0976817802
  • ISBN-13: 978-0976817802
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 9 x 1.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 567 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #485,103 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"On all the movies [Bob Brown] worked on with me, he never failed to bring a film in on time and on budget. This book is a must read for anybody who is even thinking of producing a film!"  —Mel Brooks

"This comprehensive book . . . can apply to films of any sized budget. I wish all film schools used it."  —Gary Martin, president of production, Columbia/Tristar Motion Picture Group

"You will make a better movie for less money using this book . . . the ultimate guide to budgeting and scheduling the low-budget movie."  —Bruce Block, producer, Father of the Bride, Something's Gotta Give, and What Women Want

"An invaluable resource for anyone who wants to make a movie; essential for students and professionals alike."  —Brenda Goodman, senior lecturer and head of the production track at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television.

About the Author

Robert Latham Brown teaches production planning at the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television. His credits include producer, line producer, production manager, and second-unit director on films such as The Anarchist Cookbook; Child's Play; Child's Play 2: Chucky's Back; Child's Play 3: Look Who's Stalking; Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom; Local Color; Robin Hood: Men in Tights; S.W.A.T.; and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. He lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  11 reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Be your film's hero and read this book! Nov. 9 2006
By Justin Lamb - Published on
If you are making your first legitimate movie where people besides your friends and family are depending on you not to screw up big time and you just searched Amazon for books on filmmaking and you need a no-nonsense step by step guide to help you through the behind the scenes process, this is the book for you!

I work with a comedy group in California, and we recently shot our first budgeted short film. As I am the most organized member of the group I was appointed the "Line Producer" and put in charge of making the whole thing come together on the back end. Coming from a theatre background, I knew what went into putting a stage performance together, but I was in the dark when it came to preparing for a film. After scouring Amazon (and a few other sites) this book seemed the most adequate to help me prepare for my job.

I've worked in film before, so a lot of the books I looked at about making a movie spend 2/3 of their volume explaining the difference between DV and Film and what a DP does, but I needed something that cut through that introductory fat, and would help prepare me for pre-production and detail exactly what went into pulling a film together.

This book is that book. It was my bible. It was glued to my side like Biff's Sports Almanac in Back to the Future 2.

Mr. Brown walks you through everything that goes into "making it happen." From breaking down the script into a functional shooting schedule to preparing an accurate budget to determing how far behind schedule you are to making sure there is a place for people to go to the bathroom, it's all in there. Additionally, the book even helped me to prepare for a lot of the basic legal and propreitary issues that we would encounter.

Brown also peppers the book with great anecdotes that help you avoid the pitfalls and roadblocks that he himself has encountered on large feature films like The Goonies. Yeah, The Goonies, you can't mess with someone who worked on The Goonies.

This book is essential. Bottom line. Read it. Love it. Use it.

Make well prepared movies.

Be a hero for your production.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Planning the Low-Budget Film June 5 2006
By Patrick Adderson - Published on
I have been associated with the film business for the last 20 plus years, and have not read a book that addresses the real world of Low-Budget film making as well as Robert L. Brown has captured. His book should be cumpulsory reading for every film student, and those who would like to understand the nuts and bolts of the business. Mr. Brown has managed to make his book entertaining while being informative. (Not an easy job when talking budgets etc.).

Mr. Brown's years of experience in being one of the industries most respected producers has culminated in an interesting short-cut to understanding and Planning the Low-Budget Film process. Job well done... Patrick W.Adderson.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars entertaining description of how to make a low-budget movie Jan. 11 2013
By Clayton E. Cramer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is an entertaining discussion of how to prepare a budget for making a low-budget (less than $2 million) movie by a producer with experience making low-budget and high budget films going back decades. If you are making a student film, this is a lot more detail than you'll probably need. If you are looking at making a real movie, something that isn't three of you with a nice camera, this is the book you need.

My only regret is that I ordered the Kindle edition, instead of the paperback. There are a number of places where the paperback would actually be preferable because of the examples in the back.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Production Resource June 28 2006
By Bill Bowling - Published on
This book is mis-named. It is a thorough and comprehensive production guide for ALL types of films, high and low budgets. it should be required reading for film students and studio producers. It entertaining and full of insights and techniques for film production. In a way, Mr. Brown missed his calling. He is a gifted and extraordinary writer and teacher.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful Guide to Film Budgeting June 19 2006
By Leo Vincey - Published on
I am enjoying Robert Latham Brown's Planning the Low-Budget Film. The first half introduces one to basic considerations in budgeting and scheduling a movie, with many anecdotes taken from Brown's experiences making movies for a variety of studios over the last thirty years. The second half is a virtual encyclopedia of film-making, organized according to the budget's chart of accounts. Brown educates the reader about each account, about the considerations involving that expense, in order to project how much money needs to be budgeted for it. A film production manager's job involves interfacing with so many aspects of the world that there is a lot to learn about reality from Brown's anecdotes and discussion of each budget account. He does not appear to hold anything back and is generous with his hard-won experience. For example, in a section titled Lindsley's Method in chapter 22 he shares a method he personally learned for tracking the film's progress - is it ahead of schedule or behind schedule? The book is suitable for film students, but should gradually find its way onto the desks, where it is close at hand, of every film production manager.

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