Creating a line budget is a crucial step in the film production process. It helps filmmakers estimate and allocate funds for various expenses, from pre-production to post-production and distribution. By understanding the essential elements of a line budget, filmmakers can effectively manage their resources and ensure a successful and financially sound production.

In this article, we will delve into the key components of a line budget for an independent film, including estimated cost numbers, to provide a comprehensive overview for aspiring filmmakers and producers.

We also crafted an example budget for you to check out and a film budget template for you to use for your upcoming projects. 

Let's get into the nitty gritty of film budgeting.

King_kong_1'King Kong'Credit: Universal Pictures

We Craft an Example Line Budget for an Independent Film 

All projects have different budgets, but we tried to keep this example as general as possible. This is for a low-budget, non-union movie. It felt like the most accessible for our readers, but you can look up union rates as well. 

This is just to help you plan things out. You can scale this up or down as to your needs. 

Here's an example line budget for an independent film:


  • Script development:$2,500This includes costs associated with hiring a scriptwriter, script revisions, and script coverage services to ensure that the screenplay is polished and ready for production.
  • Casting:$3,000  This covers the expenses of casting directors, auditioning actors, and any casting-related travel or accommodations.
  • Location scouting:$1,500This includes expenses for visiting potential filming locations, obtaining permits, and securing necessary permissions for shooting in specific locations.
  • Crew hiring and pre-production expenses:$6,000  This covers fees for key crew members such as the director of photography, production designer, and costume designer, as well as pre-production expenses such as pre-visualization, storyboarding, and other pre-production activities.
  • Insurance and permits:$1,200This includes costs for obtaining production insurance to cover potential liabilities, as well as any permits required for filming in certain locations.

Total pre-production budget: $14,200

Moonrise_kingdom_5'Moonrise Kingdom'Credit: Focus Features

  • Director's fee:$3,500This covers the fee for the film's director, who is responsible for overseeing the creative aspects of the production.
  • Producer's fee:$4,000This covers the fee for the film's producer, who is responsible for overseeing the logistics, financials, and overall production management.
  • Cast salaries and accommodations: $12,000  This includes the salaries of actors, as well as any travel and accommodation expenses incurred for the cast during production.
  • Crew salaries:$10,000  This covers the salaries of the various crew members such as camera operators, sound technicians, grips, and gaffers, as well as their travel and accommodation expenses during production.
  • Equipment rental:$5,000This includes costs associated with renting cameras, lighting equipment, sound gear, and other production equipment needed for filming.
  • Props and set design:$2,500  This includes expenses for creating and dressing sets, as well as acquiring or renting props needed for the film.
  • Wardrobe and makeup:$2,000This covers costs for costumes, wardrobe, and makeup for the cast.
  • Production design:$3,000  This includes expenses for production design, set decoration, and art direction.
  • Meals and craft services: $3,500  This covers the costs of providing meals and snacks for the cast and crew during production.
  • Transportation:$2,500  This includes expenses for transportation during production, such as gas, van or truck rentals, and other transportation-related costs.
  • Miscellaneous expenses: $2,000  This covers other miscellaneous expenses incurred during production, such as production office supplies, communication expenses, and other small production-related costs.

Total production budget: $48,000

Mulholland_drive'Mulholland Drive'Credit: Universal Pictures

  • Editing:$5,000This covers the cost of hiring an editor to assemble and edit the footage into a final cut of the film.
  • Sound design and mixing: $3,500  This includes costs for sound design, sound effects, and sound mixing to ensure high-quality audio in the final film.
  • Music composition and licensing: $3,000  This covers expenses for original music composition or licensing existing music to be used in the film.
  • Color correction and grading:$2,500– This includes costs for color correction and grading to ensure visual consistency and enhance the overall look of the film.
  • Visual effects:$3,000  This covers expenses for any visual effects or CGI work needed in the film.
  • Titles and graphics:$1,500This includes costs for creating opening and closing titles, as well as any graphics or visual elements needed in the film.

Total post-production budget: $18,500

Film editor cutting a film.

Marketing and distribution:

  • Film festival entry fees: $2,000  This covers fees for submitting the film to various film festivals for potential screening and exposure.
  • Marketing materials:$3,000  This includes expenses for creating promotional materials such as posters, trailers, and other marketing collateral.
  • Publicity and promotion: $4,000This covers expenses for public relations, marketing campaigns, and promotional events to generate buzz and awareness for the film.
  • Distribution expenses:$2,500This includes costs associated with the distribution of the film, such as duplication, encoding, and delivery fees.

Total marketing and distribution budget: $11,500

Contempt_1963'Contempt'Credit: Marceau-Cocinor


This includes any other miscellaneous expenses that may arise during the production, post-production, or distribution phases, but are not specifically covered in the other line items.

  • Contingency fund (around 10% of total budget): $10,000

Grand Total: $102,000

Summing Up an Example Line Budget for an Independent Film 

It's important to note that these cost numbers are just estimates and can vary greatly depending on various factors such as location, crew rates, equipment rental costs, and other specific requirements of the production.

It's crucial to thoroughly research and obtain accurate quotes from vendors, crew, and other service providers to create a realistic and detailed line budget for your independent film.

Creating a detailed and accurate line budget is a critical aspect of producing an independent film. It helps filmmakers plan and allocate funds for various expenses, from pre-production to post-production and distribution. By thoroughly researching and estimating costs, obtaining accurate quotes, and setting aside contingency funds, filmmakers can effectively manage their resources and financials throughout the production process.

A well-planned and well-executed line budget can contribute to a smooth and successful production, ensuring that the film reaches its intended audience and achieves its creative vision.

So, aspiring filmmakers and producers, remember the importance of a line budget and make it an integral part of your film production planning process.

Now go out and start filming!