Estimating Stock Needs For Feature
Published : 18th October 2005
I seem to recall a thread that was started a little while back in which there were suggestions on how to estimate the raw stock needs for a feature film shot on 16mm. I searched the archive but with no luck. Can anyone point me in the right direction?
I am prepping my first feature film to be shot on film and my producer is asking me for my thoughts on how much film it is going to take. I realize there are many variables such as length of project, directors style and all, but I am looking for a starting point for this research.
Thanks for any help you can give!
Talk to the director about how much coverage he plans to do. A good rule of thumb is about 1 script page runs about 1 minute on screen, so a 110 page script will run about 110 minutes. 16mm film runs at 36ft./minute, so a 400' roll is 11 minutes long. Ten rolls (4000') equals 110 minutes. Generally a good shooting ratio for basic coverage with a few takes is about 10:1, so you would need 100 rolls or 40,000' of raw film stock. In 35mm, it's 90'/min., 1000' = 11 min., 100,000' required.
This is rule of thumb. I've shot a number of films where smart planning has gotten the entire feature into the can for half this amount.
Search for the term "shooting ratio"...
Generally the ratio you can work with depends on the style of the film. If you have children or animals, the footage goes up. With excellent preparation and storyboarding you might be able to get the ratio down â€“ but the streets are littered with people who shot films and didn't give the editor enough coverage to put the scenes together. A false economy.
Bearing in mind that 16mm film runs at 36ft per minute - that's 3,600 ft for
a 100 minute feature - if you go for a 7:1 ratio you will need 25,200 ft.
Exactly what I was looking for, thank you very much! Now the difficult part will be deciding how to divide these numbers up into interior and exterior in order to get enough of the respective stock to get our coverage.
Thanks for all of your help!
Andrew House writes :
>Exactly what I was looking for, thank you very much! Now the difficult >part will be deciding how to divide these numbers up into interior and >exterior in order to get enough of the respective stock to get our >coverage.
Go through the script and count how much of the material is daytime Ext., day night, day int., day ext. These are your four main divisions and then you can add special effects or other scenes which might require a different stock choice. Scripts are usually divided up in 1/8ths of a page for this purpose.
I know this is a low budget Indie (ya know that there's a separate CML list for this even though no one uses it?) but breaking down the script in this way is usually done by someone else, not the DP. Is there an AD on the project?
>,,,,,my producer is asking me for my thoughts on how much film it is >going to take.
It's really up to the director in the end, isn't it?
I mean, we can try and get everyone to plan and scheme to get shooting ratio down but the director is really the one who will _choose_ to shoot more or less film.
I've heard more than a couple producers or PM's toss that question off by saying, "A thousand feet a page, right?". And that's not a bad place to start - without knowing a lot more about the project.
If there are any AD's involved it can be a big timesaver if you can get them to generate a Day, Night, Interior and Exterior breakdown so you can gauge your needs across the different stocks needed. Otherwise you have to do that yourself.
Also, if the PM and the AD's know you are using their breakdown to decide what type of stock to order, they can adjust things for (script) changes that may occur in the middle of the schedule; when you may be otherwise occupied.
You definitely want to make sure no one is looking at you when they are wondering where all the film went! A gentle reminder of who calls, "Roll..." and "Cut..." should be enough...
David Perrault, CSC
Apparently they are bringing in an AD soon, as they always say they are. The producers were just riding the fence about shooting DV or film and I took the job upon myself to convince them that film would suit the project best.
They then suggested that I bring some numbers to the table and help them "see the light." Thanks for all of your help, I haven't had to break down a script since film school, but I think that I could dig out some old notes.
A rough estimate is all they need anyhow and that is what I can now deliver. I will look into the Indie board soon, as I don't know if it was up and running when I signed up to the forums. I am glad to see the forum growing into an all encompassing mass of film knowledge.
Until next time!
>The producers were just riding the fence about shooting DV or film and I >took the job upon myself to convince them that film would suit the >project best.
To add to the numbers I gave before, to purchase 16mm raw stock, get it developed and a basic transfer to video for editing runs about $.50/foot for an Indie feature that can work some deals. This means talking to Kodak or Fuji about a discount, paying the lab in a lump sum beforehand and being willing to wait a bit on the dailies until they have room in their transfer schedule. But at $.50/ft. that means about $20/minute to shoot 16mm. A feature at 10:1 would mean $20,000.
Andrew House wrote :
> I haven't had to break down a script since film school, but I think that I >could dig out some old notes.
Be really firm that this is a base estimate, and state clearly what you are using to base this on. I find without Dolly moves I tend to shoot 7 and a half minutes of film per page. This of course really depends a lot on the director.
If the director has worked on something before, find out as much as you can about that. However, as has been said, it isn't your job, so be careful, don't make it your responsibility.
CML East Coast List Administrator
Steven Gladstonefilms writes :
>However, as has been said, it isn't your job, so be careful, don't make it >your responsibility.
If it is your responsibility, however, you better be prepared to deal with it. I'm shooting a project and ended up needing 3 rolls more than originally estimated (in this case a very important commercial client)
Always be prepared for overages/surprises